Costa Gavras calls Barroso 'a dangerous man'

Costa Gravas

Before the Council of EU Trade Ministers will decide on upcoming Friday, June 14, if culture will be excluded from the negotiating mandate that the European Commission will get for the talks with the US on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a delegation of European filmmakers that have submitted a petition with 6,200 signatures to the European Parliament went to Strasbourg to defend the exclusion of culture in the EU-US trade agreement.

The filmmaker delegation included the award-winning French actress Bérenice Bejo (The Past, The Artist), Academy-Award winning writer, director and producer Costa Gavras, Belgian actor and director Lucas Belvaux (After Life, Rapt), Italian actor and director Daniele Luchetti (Domani Accadrá), Romanian Palme d'Or winner Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 days), Cesar-winning writer/director Radu Mihaileanu (Va, vis et deviens, Le Concert) as well as Polish director and film producer Dariusz Jablonski (Land of Oblivion).

„After our meeting with Barroso I just can say that he is a dangerous man, who will flatten the European culture: he says cultural exception is not negotiable, but he accepts audiovisual to be negotiable“, stressed Costa Gavras. „So Google and others will be entering in your TV. You will have your TV filled in with US productions and then your creators will not be there to tell the real story of your country.“

French actress Bérénice Bejo read a text from German filmmaker Wim Wenders on the dangers of abandoning cultural exception. Some American directors said they would have loved to make such a film like The Artist, but it would have been impossible, as nobody would have financed that film. Bejo is scared that small film productions will disappear if the cultural exception will be sacrificed.

„We have fought for cultural exception, not only for France or for Europe, but at a global scale“, stated Henri Weber, French Socialist and Member of the European Parliament. „We have tried to explain this around the word because the peoples and the nations have all their right to subsidize their creators, and this cannot be traded.“

"We know that the MEPs are backing us", emphasized Radu Mihaileanu who is worried about the fact that Mr Barroso won't listen to them when they say that cultural products cannot be treated equally as other kind of goods. „Ideas and wit cannot be part of a negotiation deal if we risk of loosing them, because we could loose our identity, our freedom of expression“, concluded the filmmaker. "We love a Europe of diversity, that's our treasure, and we will fight until the end for it."

In case the Cultural Exception won‘t be preserved, France has already threatened to block any talks on the TTIP. The members of the French authors, directors and producers guild ARP can‘t figure it out what made Barroso change his mind. After his passionate statement “on a scale of values, culture comes before the economy” in 2005, he is now deaf to the position of the European Parliament that voted in favor to exclude culture from the trade talks.

Source: Cineuropa.org - By Birgit Heidsiek