The importance of the audiovisual industry in today's world is gigantic. On the one hand, its economic relevance is unquestionable. Governments such as Spain's are aware of this, and in recent years they have begun to facilitate the conditions that their projects and workers face when entering and leaving the country. But the strength of cinema and series is not limited to the field of money: these products are also a key element for the creation and transmission of values and cultural synergies.
With this last reality in mind, Spain, through its Instituto de la Cinematografía y de las Artes Visuales, took the last definitive step on June 21 to ratify the Council of Europe's convention on film co-production. This is a key agreement for the continent and its audiovisual sector, as it seeks to deepen the creation of joint values among European countries through film. Its objective is clear: to facilitate as much as possible co-productions between the different countries that are part of the agreement.
More than a novelty, the agreement is an update of the co-production agreement already agreed in 1992, to which Spain was also a party. But the brutal technological, economic and financial evolution of the film industry has brought about far-reaching changes in the last 20 years, and the revision of its text is an attempt to synchronize it with current times.
Context: Council of Europe and cinema
The Council of Europe, the legal framework on which this film co-production agreement is based, is a pan-European organization dedicated to promoting cooperation between the countries of the continent on the values of the union. In other words: the defense of human rights, democracy and respect for minorities.
The audiovisual sector plays a crucial role in the defense of these rights. Cinema is a means of cultural and artistic expression, with a democratizing capacity beyond any doubt. And following UNESCO's guidelines on cultural diversity, the Council of Europe considers that film co-production can be an instrument for the creation and expression of European multiculturalism. In other words, to unite the various Europes that make up Europe.
It was from this philosophy that the 1992 convention on film co-production was born, and it is from this philosophy that this update is born.
How does the agreement work?
The Council of Europe Convention on film co-production will offer two crucial advantages, as can be read in the text of the agreement. Namely:
- Cinematographic works made under a multilateral co-production regime shall be entitled to the full benefit of the advantages granted to national films of each of the countries involved in the co-production.
- These advantages will be granted to each co-producer by the country in which the co-producer is established.
In other words, to put it plainly: a Swedish director and producer will be able to access his country's film subsidies even if his film also has Spanish producers.
Access and regulations
Of course, access to the advantages offered by this agreement will be subject to certain requirements. First of all, it will only be granted to "those co-producers who are considered to have an adequate technical and financial organization, as well as sufficient professional qualifications".
In addition, the agreement will require certain percentages of participation necessary for access to the agreement —both financial, artistic and technical—, a certain balance between the parties involved, regulate the use of their languages, require the mention of all participating countries, govern the export of the product and guarantee the joint ownership of the rights of each co-producer.
The agreement will also have an impact on the way in which the participating countries manage their borders. In fact, it will oblige these countries to facilitate the entry and stay, as well as the granting of work permits in their territory, of the technical and artistic personnel of the participants in any production that avails itself of its benefits. It will also protect the temporary importation and re-exportation of the material necessary for the production and distribution of such cinematographic works.
Lastly, it should be noted that projects of a manifestly pornographic nature, which advocate discrimination, hatred and violence, or which openly violate human dignity will not be admitted to the co-production scheme provided for in the Council of Europe's agreement.
The body responsible for monitoring this co-production agreement will be Eurimages. Its mission will be to formulate proposals regarding the exchange of experiences between the parties to the agreement, as well as to issue formal opinions and specific recommendations on any issue "relating to the application and implementation" of the agreement.
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