Three films were in the running for the European Parliament’s LUX Prize 2014: Ida by Pawel Pawlikowski, Girlhood by Céline Sciamma and Class Enemy by Rok Biček.
Before the winner was announced at the award ceremony, a seminar was held in the Parliament to tackle the main issues that exist for European cinema today.
The main problem for European film is, and always has been, the circulation of works. Only a small proportion of European production crosses language borders and is distributed in other member states. This is the reason why the LUX Prize does not give grants to its finalists, but instead provides them with subtitles in the 24 languages of the EU, allowing them to travel to other member states or even beyond Europe. This was the case for Girlhood, which managed to get distribution in Germany, as it already had German subtitles – thanks to the LUX Prize.
“The LUX Prize was a great inspiration for the European Parliament when Creative Europe was conceived,” stated MEP Silvia Costa, president of the CULT Committee.
Obviously, making a film available is only half the battle. “It is not enough for the film just to be there; work has to be done to create demand for the movie,” cautioned Jakub Duszynski, distributor and co-president of Europa Distribution, as he guided the attendees on to the heart of another major problem for European cinema today: promotion.
“While just 8% of a film’s budget goes to distribution today, a mere 3.6% goes to promotion. This is a paradox because the promotion of a film is very expensive,” said Doris Pack, former MEP and coordinator of the prize. As stated by Ursula Meier, director and president of honour of Europa Distribution, promotion is essential to raise awareness and must be adapted locally, as audiences and cultural sensibilities may vary significantly from a country to another and there is no one fits all for Europe.
Let’s take Ida, the winner of the LUX Prize, as an example mentioned by Pack: the film worked very well in France, where it took 500,000 admissions, while it only took 100,000 in Poland – its own country – and has hardly been seen at all in Germany. What made the difference was the effort put into the promotion.
The LUX Prize provides a boost for promotion through the screening of its finalists in 50 different cities across Europe during the LUX Film Days. The finalists are also welcomed by a great number of festivals – which always helps to make a movie more visible.
The European Parliament has also tried to overcome these problems by redirecting some of the MEDIA funds under Creative Europe from creation to distribution and promotion, but we cannot expect Creative Europe to be the only tool. The European funds should be topped up with national and local funds. Indeed, national funds for the promotion of local films abroad – which give distributors the chance to gain financing from the country of origin of the film they are promoting – would be very useful, if only they could function efficiently in every single EU country. Generally, there should be support not only for production, but also for distribution and promotion, nationally and internationally, as it is the case in France – today, there are countries where this is not backed at all.
So what is the LUX Prize doing to make things better? It is mainly an example of good practice, which gives a great opportunity not only to its finalists, but also to European cinema as a whole. “Take a country like Slovenia,” said Rok Biček, director of Class Enemy. “It produces four to six films per year, with a total budget of €4 million. The nomination of Class Enemy among the finalists and its subtitling – which has already given it the opportunity to be distributed in five countries – could be a good sign for Slovenia that it has to invest more in cinema.”
Photo: Paweł Pawlikowski receives the LUX Prize for Ida (© European Union 2014)