Page last updated at 23:55 GMT, Friday, 29 August 2008 00:55 UK

Europe seeks overseas film boost

By Vincent Dowd
BBC News, Venice

(Left to right) Inju actor Lika Minamoto, director Barbet Schroeder and actors Ryo Ishibashi and Benoit Magimel.
Inju - the Beast in the Shadows has an international cast and setting

The European Commission is to expand a pilot scheme to put more European films into Asian and Latin American cinemas.

One of the scheme's co-ordinators said the plan would provide a counterbalance to the large amount of Hollywood product in cinemas around the world.

European film officials are promoting the scheme at the Venice Film Festival.

In return for a subsidy, some 50 companies have already agreed to show a certain number of European titles each year. That network will now expand.

Getting its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival this weekend is Inju - the Beast in the Shadows, directed by Barbet Schroeder, a veteran both of Hollywood and of French cinema.

The thriller, which is gruesome at times, stars French actor Benoit Magimel and is set in Japan.

So it is appropriate that the EU's Europa Cinemas scheme has just announced it is to build on a small pilot scheme subsidising the distribution of European film within Asia and Latin America.

US dominance

In Latin America the films tend to be Spanish or Portuguese.

In Asia, the project leaders think audiences in Japan, India and elsewhere have a hunger for European fare generally.

Fatima Djoumer, of the Europa Cinemas project, says Europe's films need help to fight a system of distribution dominated by the US.

"These countries are dominated by Hollywood products," she says.

"In a lot of these countries a lot of cinema chains belong to American companies. American companies show American products - that's it. And Hollywood products are dominating the world anyway. "

People sometimes talk loosely of American domination of the movie industry.

But as this year's Venice Festival shows once again, there are plenty of European and other films getting made.

What US companies do dominate is international movie distribution.

It is that fact that this scheme is designed to counter - in however limited a way.


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