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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 May, 2004, 11:54 GMT 12:54 UK
EU plans to boost film industry
Stephean Frears (left)
Stephen Frears (left) was one of the directors taking part in the meeting
European Union delegates and directors including Stephen Frears have vowed to protect Europe's film industry at Cannes meeting.

"Today we are 25," said Poland's culture minister Waldemar Dabrowski of the EU delegation. "In this world of symbols this is an important day."

The meeting resulted in a pledge to try and boost European film, which is under threat from Hollywood dominance.

They also wanted European films to "cross borders" within the continent.

The meeting comes just weeks after the formal inclusion of 10 new countries to the EU - Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.

'Fight'

The meeting also involved other directors, including the Czech film-maker Milos Forman and France's Jean-Claude Carriere.

"We are not going to cordon off Europe but we are going to fight for the European cinema," said European Commissioner for Culture Viviane Reding.

Very few films cross borders, and we need to multiply such films by 10
European Commissioner for Culture Viviane Reding

The 10 new members are facing grave difficulties. We must show solidarity to help them recreate their cinema, often at the origins of the history of film."

There have been calls to boost funding that promotes cross-border film distribution, such as the Europa cinema chain, which has more than 1,000 screens across the continent.

A five-year, 513 million euro (353m) programme to help boost distribution, Media, is due to end in 2006.

Of the films watched in cinemas across Europe, 70% of them are from the US, 20% are from the country they are watched in, and only 10% are from other European countries.

"The success of the European Union depends to a considerable degree on its ability to give Europeans the chance to get to know the culture of their neighbours," a joint statement said.

"Feature film is an art form with a particular ability to promote dialogue between cultures both in Europe and internationally," the statement added.

Ms Reding said earlier this week that borders "remain important for the distribution of films.

"Very few films cross borders, and we need to multiply such films by 10," she said.




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