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Petition of European Filmmakers against EU-US Trade Renegotiations
24 April 2013
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Update 17/06/2013

Cultural Exception stays safe for now.

On Friday, June 14, after nearly 13 hours of discussions, the European Union΄s state members decided to maintain the cultural exception from the EU-US trade talks. However it was said that the subject could be integrated again into the talks at a later stage.

Update 12/06/2013

Yesterday, June 11, took place the meeting between the delegation of directors and Jose Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission. The directors were disappointed after the meeting because the President did not agreed to exclude the audiovisual services as a whole from the EU-US discussions. 

Costas Gavras stated: "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. 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".

Awarded Actress Bérénice Bejo expressed her fear that small productions will disappear if cultural exception is sacrifised. She also said that American directors have admitted that they would love to make a film like The Artist but it would be impossible to find the money. The actress read a statement by Wim Wenders on the dangers of abandoning cultural exception.

Romanian director Radu Mihaileanu stated "we love a Europe of diversity, that΄s our treasure, and we will fight until the end for it". He also said that Mr. Barroso won΄t listen to them when they say that cultural products cannot be treated equally as other kind of goods.

Update 06/06/2013

A group of European film industry professionals will present the petition to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on June 11 and they will organize a press conference to discuss the issue of Cultural Exception from the EU - US Trade talks.

This group is consisted by award winning filmmakers Cristian Mungiu, Radu Mihaileanu, Costas Gavras, actors-directors Lucas Belvaux and Daniele Luchetti and the winner of the Best Actress Award at this years Cannes Film Festival Bérénice Bejo. The date of the press conference is very close to the final decision by the European Commission whether or not the Audiovisual Sectors will be excluded from the discussions.

Update 27/05/2013

The European Parliament voted in favour of the resolution calling for the exclusion of cultural and audiovisual services, including online services, from the negotiating mandate of the free trade agreement between the US and the EU. This resolution was adopted with a large majority which demonstrates the strong support for the preservation of the cultural exception.
This vote is very important but does not oblige the European Commission to exclude the audiovisual sector from the negotiations. The next important date is June 14 when the negotiating mandate will be given to the Commission by the Member States. 

Until this moment the petition has gathered 5500 signatures. 


On the 13th of March 2013, the European Commision decided to include audiovisual and film services into the EU-US trade discussions to start this summer. Until now, cultural services were excluded from such discussions and the results may lead to the dramatic reduction of European funds for cinema.

Numerous directors, producers and artists in general have signed a petition declaring their opposition to the Commision`s decision to renegotiate the terms. The petition was signed among others by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Costas Gavras, Cristian Mungiu, Thomas Vinterberg, Aki Kaurismaki, Cristi Puiu, Corneliu Porumboiu, Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, Pedro Almodovar, Bella Tarr and is travelling all over  Europe, gathering more signatures and support.

From Greece there has been already 150 signatures including directors such as Phillipos Tsitos, Tassos Boulmetis, Ektoras Lygizos, Athina Rachel Tsangari, Katerina Evangelakou, Panos H. Koutras. The Thessaloniki International Film Festival and the Panorama of European Cinema have also offered their support through their Artistic Directors.

Eric Garandeau, President of the Centre National du Cinéma (CNC), on a round table organized by the European Parliament at Lecce Cinema Festival on April the 13th  said that "Public institutions are meant to give hope and support to artists who will never find the help they need in the Market." He continued saying that "It is absolutely unacceptable that the European Union might envisage negotiating a free trade agreement with the United States of America that would include audio-visual services. The European audio-visual industry is a vital organ of a cultural body that cannot be torn apart. Europe was right when it joined the UNESCO Convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions. While doing so, it expressed a profound belief in the necessity to regulate and support creation." He also said that "Opposing the rules of trade competition to cultural diversity is equal to opposing a tank to an unarmed student. Everybody knows who is going to win. But in matters of culture, the weakest should prevail against the strongest. Cultural diversity is a camera pointed at the student facing the tank, showing his image to the world, showing his courage and tenacity, and suggesting he should prevail."

The CNC will organize a conference in Cannes on Monday the 20th of May from 10am to 1pm, reuniting all European institutions, professionals, artists who are engaged in the promotion and preservation of cultural exception in the context of this transatlantic negotiation.   

The complete petition is as followed:

The 13th of March may become a major turning point in European construction – and a scandalous one.
That was the day the European Commission decided to trample on the cultural exception and adopted a draft negotiation mandate that includes audiovisual and film services into the EU-US trade discussions to start this summer. 

Forgotten are the passionate words of President Barroso back in 2005: “on a scale of values, culture comes before the economy”. Gone, too, are President Barroso’s declarations of love for cinema when directors were forced into action to defend the MEDIA program. And what happened to the Commission slogan, “Europe loves cinema”?
A few months before the end of his presidency, we do not understand what mark Mr. Barroso wants to leave on European history. For now, unfortunately, a destructive image predominates: the image of the one who gave up on culture. He seems to have forgotten his own lesson from not so long ago: “culture is how we ought to respond to the crisis”.
Let’s be frank: the proposed negotiation mandate is a renunciation. It is a capitulation and a breaking-point. 

20 years ago, the common will to support creation and to promote its diversity was forged here in Europe. 

Culture is at the very heart of European identity and ideals.
20 years ago, the cultural exception burst onto the international scene, leading to the recognition of a specific status for audiovisual works as they are not just goods like any others and must therefore be excluded from trade negotiations. 

20 years ago, thanks to the cultural exception that emerged from the GATS agreement battle, creation and linguistic diversity were granted the right to keep on benefiting from rules aimed at protecting and supporting them.
The result is positive: cultural diversity is now a reality in most places across Europe. It allows for exchanges and mutual understanding and is also a vector for growth and job creation. 

The Europe that we love worked hard to help make the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions come true. The Europe that we love further ratified this Convention together with 126 countries from around the world. The Europe that we love is admired across the world because it initiated and supported this great initiative. 

With the adoption of the negotiation mandate, which would reduce culture to nothing more than a commodity, the European commission (apart from the three commissioners who voted against it) has abandoned its position in favour of the cultural exception. She denied and denied her commitments, notably through Article 167 of the Lisbon Treaty. 

We hate this Europe that is ready to get rid of the Convention’s principles, and in particular the principle of States’ cultural sovereignty. 

In front of the United States where the entertainment industry is the second-largest source of exports, the liberalisation of the audiovisual and film sector will lead to the destruction of all of what until now protected, promoted and helped develop European cultures. This policy, together with the granting of excessive fiscal advantages to US digital champions, looks strikingly like a conscious desire to bring European culture to its knees.
Those who, in the name of Europe, will have accepted this resignation will be forever guilty in the eyes of history. Cultural diversity must not be just another bargaining tool. It must remain an ambition, a legitimate demand, and a commitment. 
It is not too late! 

We will keep fighting for Europe’s ability to write its History from the perspective of the diversity of its peoples and cultures; and for European citizens’ ability to find complex and profound responses to today’s challenges. 

The signatories, originating in all parts of Europe, solemnly call upon European heads of States to support the exclusion of audiovisual and film services from the EU-US trade negotiations. 

Michael Haneke (Director - Austria)
Paolo Sorrentino (Director - Italy)
Marco Bellocchio (Director - Italy)
Emanuele Crialese (Director - Italy)
Pedro Almodovar (Director - Spain)
Fernando Trueba (Director - Spain)
Pablo Berger (Director - Spain)
Mike Leigh (Director - United-Kingdom)
Ken Loach (Director - United-Kingdom)
Stephen Frears (Director - United-Kingdom)
Volker Schlöndorff (Director - Germany)
Margarethe von Trotta (Director - Germany)
Aki Kaurismäki (Director - Finland)
Thomas Vinterberg (Director - Denmark)
Cristian Mungiu (Director - Romania)
Catalin Mitulescu (Director - Romania)
Cristi Puiu (Director - Romania)
Corneliu Porumboiu (Director - Romania)
Luc Dardenne (Director - Belgium)
Jean-Pierre Dardenne (Director - Belgium)
Lucas Belvaux (Director - Belgium)
Jaco van Dormael (Director - Belgium)
Eva Sørhaug (Director - Norway)
Kamen Kalev (Director - Bulgaria)
Ursula Meier (Director - Switzerland)
Lionel Baier (Director - Switzerland)
Bela Tarr (Director - Hungary)
Šarūnas Bartas (Director - Lithuania)
Arunas Matelis (Director - Lithuania)
Robert Alberdingk Thijm (Screenwriter - Netherlands)
Costa Gavras (Director - France)
Bertrand Tavernier (Director - France)
Michel Hazanavicius (Director - France)
Radu Mihaileanu (Director - France - Romania)
Walter Salles (Director - Brazil)
David Lynch (Director - United-States)

And also:
Sabina Guzanti (Director - Italy)
Paolo Virzi (Director - Italy)
Marco Tullio Giordana (Director - Italy)
Giorgio Diritti (Director - Italy) Ivano de Matteo (Director - Italy)
Leonardo di Costanzo (Director - Italy)
Daniele Luchetti (Director - Italy)
Silvio Soldini (Director - Italy) Enrique Urbizu (Director - Spain)
Isabel Coixet (Director - Spain)
Montxo Armendariz (Director - Spain)
Angeles González-Sinde (Director - Spain)
Fernando León de Aranoa (Director - Spain)
Joaquim Oristrell (Director - Spain)
Santiago Tabernero (Director - Spain)
Felix Viscarret (Director - Spain)
Loles León (Director - Spain)
Rosa María Sardá (Director - Spain)
Rebecca O’Brien (Producer - United-Kingdom)
Roger Michell (Director - United-Kingdom)
Susanna White (Director - United-Kingdom)
Hugh Stoddart (Screenwriter - United-Kingdom)
Fred Breinersdorfer (Screenwriter - Germany)
Jochen Greve (Screenwriter - Germany)
Calin Netzer (Director - Romania)
Radu Muntean (Director - Romania)
Adrian Sitaru (Director - Romania)
Marian Crisan (Director - Romania)
Tudor Giurgiu (Director - Romania)
Ada Solomon (Director - Romania)
Razvan Radulescu (Director - Romania)
Joachim Lafosse (Director - Belgium)
Olivier Masset-Depasse (Director - Belgium)
Stijn Coninx (Director - Belgium)
Michal Wald (Director - Belgium)
Agnès Jaoui (Director - France)
Pierre Jolivet (Director - France)
Jacques Fansten (Director - France)
Laurent Heynemann (Director - France)
Pierre Schoeller (Director - France)
Benoit Delepine (Director - France)
Gustave Kervern (Director - France)
Marine Franssen (Director - France)
Jean-Marc Moutout (Director - France)
Antoine Rein (Producer - France)
Renaud Delourme (Editor - France)
Matthew Gledhill (Producer - France)
Alexandre Charlet (Producer - France)
Olivier Lorelle (Director, screenwriter - France)
Eric Altmayer (Producer - France)

Sign the Petition here

  Katerina Evangelakou
  Tassos Boulmetis
  Tudor Giurgiu
  Radu Muntean
  Cristian Mungiu
  Cristi Puiu
  Adrian Sitaru
  Razvan Radulescu
  Ada Solomon
  Corneliu Porumboiu
  Athina-Rachel Tsangari
  Ektoras Lygizos
  Panos H. Koutras
  Philippos Tsitos
  Marian Crisan
  Jean-Pierre Dardenne
  Luc Dardenne
  Radu Mihaileanu
  Calin Peter Netzer
  Hellenic Film Academy
  Thessaloniki International Film Festival
  Centre national du cinéma et de l`image animée (CNC)
  Screen Daily: Mixed reactions about Cultural Exception
  European Voice about Cutural Exception
  Video from the meeting at Strasbourg (fr)
  Strasbourg meeting between European directors and Baroso (fr)
  The Delegation of filmmakers Video (fr)
  Sign the Petition
  The speech of Eric Garandeau on Lecce Film Festival
  European Commision Offisial Site
  altcine Explore movies by Country People To read
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