Mediterranean Film Forum, December 2-3, 2014, Tunis

Conclusions from the workshop on film funding

Moderator: Catherine Buresi

Workshop 1 : Tuesday, December 2, 2014, 2.30-6pm

Moderator: Catherine Buresi

Summary of presentation (see .ppt - in French) – the “South Mediterranean Film fund project” and the recommendations of theFinancing Working Group were distributed to the participants in their conference´s files.

Summary of the workshop 

Panel 1: Evaluation of the Financial Working Group results

Mohannad Al Bakri (Jordan), Hala Galal (Egypt), Nabila Rezaig (Algeria), Itidal Ismail (Palestine)

The questions made to the panellists were the following:

  • What is your opinion on the results achieved and the common work: do you think it has been useful at regional level? But also for you at your personal level, in your country and in your daily work.
  • How do you figure out the possibility of establishing such a fund as the one we planned together? Who/what should be the financier for such a fund? What would be the conditions for it to exist?

This panel started reacting on a provocative statement done in the morning by Mr Kamel Mouline from the CCM (Morocco): the project of a regional development fund is not realistic.

For all panellists and members of the audience, this statement is wrong:

  • In a region where support to film is rather unstable (The Egyptian-based fund El Mawred has just disappeared for example, so has the Dubai Film Connection), having a regional mechanism would guarantee stability;
  • It will help in countries where no system exists;
  • It is also a must for supporting young and female filmmakers.

In order to make it happen and find investors, the benefits for it should be listed in a plea, where current regional success of Arab films, like Caramel (Lebanon), 678 (Egypt), Theeb (Jordan), Eyes of a Thief (Palestine) should be listed with a focus on their revenue-making potential.

A broad discussion opens on the pro and cons of public/private sector. A consensus emerges to be more confident towards private funding, in opposition to public funding, seen as too time-consuming and not reliable.

In all cases, the sustainability of the regional mechanism should be secured by the creation of a regional organisation.

Generally speaking the panellists stressed the very strong networking effect of the FWG and the bilateral collaborations that started thanks to its existence. Between Algeria (AARC), Jordan (RFC) and Shashat in Palestine for example.

 

Panel 2: Role of markets forces in the financing: TV/distribution/markets

Hanadi Masoud (Palestine), Hala Zureiqat (Jordan), Hind Saih (Morocco), Khaled Haddad (Jordan) 

The questions made to the panellists were the following:

  • What is your opinion on the current state of film and audiovisual financing in the Region in this perspective and how useful where the work of the FWG in this field?
  • What are the current trends in your country in the field (new project in TV, distribution, markets) and how are they linked to film financing?

The participating broadcasters, Palestinian PBC and Jordanian Roya TV both express a real interest for national or regional independent production: PBC, as a larger public broadcaster can produce, co-produce or buy programmes from the Region while Roya as a younger, private one is working with young Jordanian talents but cannot afford buying a lot in the region because they have no acquisitions department yet and would need to buy from distributors and not from independents. 

Both those channels though are not active in the field of feature films where very few broadcasters in the region do invest and where they are not even interested in showing regional productions. In order to palliate this state of things, panellist Khaled Haddad from Jordan comes up with a provocative proposal: a fund should be created to encourage regional broadcasters to show regional films, thus supporting dubbing/sub-titling and PR.

This idea is seen as scandalous in the assistance but actually such a fund exists in Europe (TV programming at Creative Europe but it benefits the producer and not the broadcaster).

Hind Saih then presents its specific action with the FIDADOC and 2M in Morocco to promote a better circulation of documentaries in Morocco and in the region. This example is greeted by all participants as a best practise.

Some producers in the assistance stressed that cultural channels are missing in the region. Hanadi Masoud from PBC announces the launch of such a channel in Palestine early 2015.

The key-word should be “target audience”: if the broadcasters had a better awareness of what they are looking for, and for which audience, it would make the relationship with independents easier. This is indeed one of the recommendations of the FWG.

Internet is also seen by the participants as an alternative to broadcasting in order to enhance regional distribution.

 

Panel 3: Co-production, a state of the art in the region

Diane Aractingi (Lebanon), Melik Kochbati (Tunisia), Firas Khoury (Palestine)

The questions made to the panellists were the following:

  • What is your opinion on the current state of film and audiovisual financing in the Region in this perspective and how useful where the work of the FWG in this field (studies, legal aspects)?
  • What are the current trends in your country in the field of co-production, do you feel they are going up or down, are they a "must" and what could be done to enhance them?

 

Panel 4: Perspectives, new funds in progress

Lina Bokhary (Palestine), Maya De Freige (Lebanon), Magda Wassef (Egypt) and Mohamed Al Maanouni (Morocco) for ICAM.

The questions made to the panellists were the following:

  • What is going on in your country as far as film financing is concerned: are there any projects for new financing sources? (film funds or tax incentives) and how useful was the work of the FWG in this field?
  • How does the future look like in your opinion as far as film financing in the MENA region (and in your own country) is concerned? Is there one action that would really be helpful in the future?

 

Those 2 last panels were merged in one.

About co-production: according to the panellists, no “solid ground” was reached yet in EAVIII at the regional level but bilateral co-productions are going on. Due to the lack of financing, co-production is mainly seen in the region as a financing tool while “natural co-productions” should be more frequent.

The film as a project should be at the centre and not the chase for financing.

Perspectives:

Lina Bokhary explains what is going now in Palestine: nothing new about financing but new training project supported by the Danish Film Fund.

Good news are coming from Lebanon where new projects are born: a new initiative of the central Bank of Lebanon to support innovative projects, three new funds in progress and further work to create tax incentives, following the mission supported by EAVIII in January 2013.

The session is closed by the presentation of ICAM (Investing in Culture and Audiovisual in the Mediterranean). This new project that should be active from early 2015 on will actually act as a regional fund, supporting film projects but also other projects from art sectors that can find job opportunities within the audiovisual sector like fashion, literature, music, graphic art etc…ICAM should be supported for 3 years by the EU in the framework of the Med Culture programme.

Conclusions

Network is certainly the keyword in assessing the results of EAVIII: the links it created at the regional level are solid while the concrete results seem to be more visible on a bilateral or national basis, like with tax incentives in Lebanon or cooperation’s launched by Algerian AARC.

Actually the EU is seen by most of the stakeholders like a “regional umbrella”, the only “authority” providing regional opportunities.

A last keyword is “private sector”: most of the participants, even those coming from national authorities, seem to see more opportunities in the private sector and the civil society to make a regional funding mechanism come true.

 

Download the conclusions from the workshop (PDF)

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