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#UNIC - Survival of cinemas at stake

EU Reporter Correspondent

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The International Union of Cinemas (UNIC), the body representing cinema trade associations and operators across 38 European territories, has issued the following statement:

"As European cinema operators finally emerge from a period of extended closure due to the COVID-19 outbreak and work hard to welcome audiences back, the focus of the entire industry must be on ensuring that recovery can happen and that audiences return to enjoy the unique experience of watching films on the big screen.

"While many on the distribution side have indicated that ‘we are all in this together’, recent events make it clearer than ever that this sentiment must be backed by actions as well as words.

"Specifically, new content must be released in cinemas first and observe a significant theatrical window, both elements being essential for the survival and health of every part of the European (and indeed global) cinema industry.

"A ‘cinema first’ strategy for film releases – accompanied by a significant period of theatrical exclusivity – is a proven business model, and crucial for ensuring that audiences can enjoy a diverse range of films. This system was the foundation for a record-breaking 2019, with 1.34 billion admissions and €8.7 billion earned at the box office in Europe alone.

"The entire sector faces unprecedented challenges. More than ever, decisions across the industry need to be made with a long-term perspective. If our studio partners oblige cinemas to wait until the sector emerges from the crisis in the US before supplying new content, it will prove too late for many European cinemas and their dedicated workforce.

"All who depend on the success of the film industry should commit to ensuring the future health of the whole sector. By doing so, they will ensure that the wider film industry and European cinemas – from one-screen independents to art-houses and multiplexes – will recover and return from this crisis stronger and more resilient than ever."

About UNIC

The Union Internationale des Cinémas/International Union of Cinemas (UNIC) represents the interests of cinema trade associations and cinema operators covering 38 countries in Europe and neighbouring regions.

Cinema

Oscars 2021: Two EU-supported films won the famous awards

EU Reporter Correspondent

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The winners of this year's edition of the Oscars were announced on 25 April during the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony, with two films co-funded by the EU winning three awards. The Father by Florian Zeller took home the award for Best Adapted Screenplay by Florian Zeller and Christopher Hampton, as well as Best Actor for Sir Anthony Hopkins' role. Furthermore, Druk - Another Round by Thomas Vinterberg, which received EU support both for its development and distribution, won the award for Best International Feature Film.

A Europe Fit for the Digital Age Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager said: “Congratulations! Deserved and well done by our EU-supported films in this year's edition of the Oscars - a remarkable success for European productions as a whole. It is a great recognition and it underlines the importance of our efforts to help the sector recover and transform in these challenging times.”

Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton added: “The outstanding results received by our EU-supported films in the 2021 Academy Awards are an excellent example of the resilience of the European audiovisual industry, and crucial role of Europe's continued support to the sector. We are firmly committed to promote and strengthen this support.”

The EU supported the development and international distribution of the above two films with an investment of over €1.4 million, awarded through the Creative Europe MEDIA programme. Seven MEDIA-supported films were nominated for a total of 14 awards in this year's edition of the Oscars, competing in categories such as Best Director, Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Screenplay. More information on these and other productions will be made available in the dedicated campaign for the occasion of 30 years of MEDIA, which celebrates the EU's support to the audiovisual industry throughout the decades.

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Arts

The war in #Libya - a Russian movie reveals who is spreading death and terror

Henry St George

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Turkey may again create a headache for Europe. While Ankara is pursuing a blackmail strategy in the West, threatening to let migrants into Europe, it is turning Libya into a terrorist rear base by transferring militants from Idlib and northern Syria to Tripoli.

Turkey's regular intervention in Libyan politics once again raises the issue of the neo-Osmanist threat, which will affect not only the stability of the North African region, but also the European one. Given that Recep Erdogan, by trying on the role of sultan, allows himself to blackmail Europeans by intimidating the influx of migrants. This destabilization of northern Africa may also lead to a new wave of migration crisis.

The key problem, however, is Turkey's strained relations with its allies. The situation in the region is largely determined by the strained relations between Turkey and Russia. Given the diametrically different interests in both Syria and Libya, we can talk about a weakening of cooperation between the states: it is not so much like a stable alliance, but rather a complex game of two long-standing frenemies, with periodic attacks and scandals against each other.

The cooling of relations is illustrated in the second part of the Russian film "Shugaley", which highlights Turkey's neo-Osmanist ambitions and its criminal links with the GNA. The central characters of the film are Russian sociologists who were kidnapped in Libya and who Russia is trying to bring back to their homeland. The importance of the return of sociologists is discussed at the highest level, in particular, this problem was raised by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in June 2020 during a meeting with a delegation from the Libyan GNA.

The Russian side is already openly criticizing Turkey's role in Libya, as well as emphasizing the supply of terrorists and weapons to the region. The authors of the movie express hope that Shugaley himself is still alive, despite constant torture and human rights violations.

The plot of "Shugaley" covers several topics painful and inconvenient for the Government: torture in Mitiga prison, an alliance of terrorists with the government of Fayez al-Sarraj, the permissiveness of pro-government militants, the exploitation of resources of Libyans in the interests of a narrow circle of elites.

Depending on Ankara's wishes, the GNA pursues a pro-Turkish policy, while Recep Erdogan's forces are increasingly integrated into the government's power structures. The film speaks transparently about mutually beneficial cooperation - the GNA receives weapons from the Turks, and in return, Turkey realizes its neo-Ottomanist ambitions in the region, including the economic benefits of rich oil deposits.

"You are from Syria, aren't you? So you're a mercenary. You fool, it wasn't Allah who sent you here. And the big guys from Turkey, who really want Libyan oil. But you don't want to die for it. Here they send idiots like you here," says Sugaley's main character to a militant working for the GNA criminal agencies. On the whole, all this just illustrates the reality: In Libya, Turkey is trying to promote the candidacy of Khalid al-Sharif, one of the most dangerous terrorists close to al-Qaeda.

This is the root of the problem: in fact, al-Sarraj and his entourage – Khalid al-Mishri, Fathi Bashaga, etc. - are selling the country's sovereignty so that Erdogan can quietly continue to destabilize the region, strengthen terrorist cells and benefit - while at the same time jeopardizing security in Europe. The wave of terrorist attacks in European capitals from 2015 is something that could happen again if northern Africa is filled with terrorists. Meanwhile, Ankara, in violation of international law, claims a place in the EU and receives funding.

At the same time, Turkey regularly intervenes in the affairs of European countries, strengthening its lobby on the ground. For example, a recent example is Germany, where the Military Counterintelligence Service (MAD) is investigating four suspected supporters of the Turkish right-wing extremist "Grey Wolves" in the country's armed forces.

The German government has just confirmed in response to a request from the Die Linke party that Ditib ("Turkish-Islamic Union of the Institute of Religion") is cooperating with extreme Turkish-oriented "Grey Wolves" in Germany. The response from the German Federal Government referred to cooperation between Turkish extreme right extremists and the Islamic umbrella organization, the Turkish-Islamic Union of the Institute of Religion (Ditib), which operates in Germany and is controlled by the Turkish state body, the Office of Religious Affairs (DIYANET).

Would it be an appropriate decision to allow membership of the EU to Turkey, which by means of blackmail, illegal military supplies and integration into the structures of power, the army and intelligence is trying to strengthen its position both in northern Africa and in the heart of Europe? The country that is not able even to cooperate with its allies like Russia?

Europe must reconsider its attitude towards Ankara's neo-Osmanist policy and prevent the continuation of blackmail - otherwise the region risks facing a new terrorist era.

For more information about "Sugaley 2" and to view trailers of the movie please visit http://shugalei2-film.com/en-us/

 

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Awards

Four #MEDIA films will compete for #GoldenLion at #VeniceFilmFestival

EU Reporter Correspondent

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The 76th Venice Film Festival started on 28 August, featuring 12 films supported by the MEDIA programme – the EU's programme for supporting the European film and audiovisual industries. Four of the MEDIA-supported films have additionally been shortlisted to compete for the Golden Lion: The Truth by Hirokazu Kore-eda (France, Japan), About Endlessness by Roy Andersson (Sweden, Germany, Norway), Martin Eden by Pietro Marcello (Italy, France) and The Painted Bird by Václav Marhoul (Czech Republic, Ukraine, Slovakia). The Orizzonti competition that is dedicated to latest aesthetic and expressive trends in international cinema will feature MEDIA-supported Blanco en blanco by Theo Court (Spain, Chile, France, Germany) and Madre by Rodrigo Sorogoyen (Spain, France).

The film Effetti Domino by Alessandro Rosseto (Italy) will be screened in the Sconfini section that is dedicated to art-house and genre movies, experimental and artists' films. Five more films supported by MEDIA will participate in the independent sections Giornate degli Autori as well as in the Venice International Film Critics Week held in parallel to the festival. At the sidelines of the festival, the European Commission will also organize on Saturday (31 August) the European Film Forum. Further details on the MEDIA-supported films at the Venice Film Festival are available here, the MEDIA programme here and on the European Film Forum here. More information on the Commission's support for the audiovisual and creative sectors in 2020 is available here.

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