The new platforms, the old barriers and the LUX Prize

The LUX Prize, the award given out each year by the European Parliament in order to impulse cultural diversity and European debate through film, ended up in Belgian filmmaker Felix Van Groeningen's hands, whose The Broken Circle Breakdown managed to convince the voting MEPs (news). But much before receiving the statuette, Van Groeningen's film, alongside the other two finalists, Valeria Golino's Miele and Clio Barnard's The Selfish Giant, were awarded with subtitling and supported distribution in every European Union Member country (through the LUX FILM DAYS - news), which is something that most films can't easily get to.
 
Precisely, the LUX ceremony in Strasbourg was preceded by a seminar for journalists that tackled, among others, this topic – an important issue that is defining European film current situation and which was the center of a panel about film distribution. “In some European countries independent film cinemas work very well, making a huge contribution to cinema – but in others, we have to work harder to avoid the blockbuster domination,” said Europa Cinemas CEO Claude-Eric Poiroux.
 
In order to adapt to the new environment, barriers have to be demolished. MEP Silvia Costa stated, “there's a disconnection between audience and creative products – we need to reengage with them, to attract their attention by redefining the target audience.” And one of the most disconnected publics is that of the young people. “We have to use the new mediums to get to the young people – they're not a lost public, they're the people who will run this in the future,” continued Poiroux.
 
One of the main reasons that have turned the film world upside down is the digital shift and the new platforms, and, hence, experts say it needs to adapt to that. “It's necessary to transform the appetite of the film viewer – most of the time fulfilled through illegal ways – into one directed to new and diverse windows,” thinks Creative Europe Head of Unit Xavier Troussard. “The figures on VOD market are unavailable for analysis and this market is still non-existing in many European countries,” continued Sofia Film Festival director and moderator of the panel Mira Staleva, stressing the necessity to explore this tool in the next future.
 
The linguistic borders, another of the barriers in Europe, were also referred to during the press conference after the award ceremony. While the three finalist filmmakers thanked the initiative for allowing their films to cross them and to be seen in every Member country -the 3 movies were subtitled in 24 languages, representing a rough cost of €100 000-, Vice-president in charge of the LUX Prize Isabelle Durant stated: “Subtitling is a way of debating between different cities of Europe. Us, as a political body, we're sensible to this issue, and we try to do it to get all the countries together.”
 
Can this sense of European cinema overcome frontiers? Does this sense actually exist? “There's a strange sense of liberty of expression within the European filmmakers, even if there are big differences between them,” expresses Valeria Golino. “European film has something that's not happening in America – the money for development, which allows ideas to grow more, and which wouldn't happen in a more commercial country,” continues Clio Barnard. If so, what does current crisis mean for the European future? In the meantime, Felix van Groeningen is not pessimistic: “People will always make films and see films. There are countries where it's very hard to make films and they make very good ones – just look at Greece, Romania...” In Golino's words, “Europe is about culture, and culture has to be protected. We need to accept every other country's cultures, while protecting our own – I want to have that romantic idea that our diversity can be our force.”

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