WITH MUCH MORE THAN A LITTLE HELP FROM OUR FRIENDS
Under no circumstances we would have wanted to miss those 33 exciting, sometimes troubled, but always inspiring years that are coming to an end now, for both of us. (“We” are Marion and Wim who are writing this love letter to all of you, dear EFA Members, partners and supporters.) These 33 years span from the eve of the first European Film Awards Ceremony in November 1988 – and a conspirative meeting of a bunch of loner filmmakers in a hotel room in a still divided city of Berlin as well as in a deeply split European continent – until today, when a virus is threatening to disconnect us again. Luckily, it can’t succeed, because something fundamental has changed over the past three decades: Those loners have become a strong community. Europe has a positive meaning, European cinema is a strong label, and co-operation across borders has become a daily routine and a reality that we will never let go again.
33 years ago, all this was still a distant dream for those 40 filmmakers. They were willing to take a huge risk: Escaping the solitude, but also the safety of their artistic lives to join forces with each other, ready to take responsibility for shaping a European film culture on a free and democratic continent. To achieve this, those “Fabulous Forty” founded the European Film Academy. Today, they’ve grown to 4,000 in 48 countries – and they represent European cinema at its finest, a cinema, which stands for openness, tolerance and diversity. Its artistic quality can be witnessed every year again at the European Film Awards.
Pretty much at the same time when the European Film Academy was founded, the European Commission launched the MEDIA-Programme, predecessor of what is known today as the Creative Europe Programme. From the beginning, the MEDIA-Programme rightly requested from its beneficiaries to connect in networks, to form alliances and to co-operate across national borders and professional departments. EFA would not have developed the way it did, if the European Commission wouldn’t have provided the infrastructure for the film industry coming together regularly at festivals, markets, in promotional, training and educational programmes, and many more initiatives and events. Creative Europe has all rights to claim its invaluable impact on shaping an industry of true European dimension and spirit without which we would feel desperately disconnected in the demanding situation caused right now by the COVID-19 pandemic. In these turbulent times we therefore pause for a moment and send a big THANK YOU to Brussels!
The grounds on which the European Film Academy is built would not be as solid without the strong network of our public funding institutions such as the German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, FFA German Federal Film Board, German State Lottery Berlin, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, Eurimages, and the already mentioned Creative Europe. The full reliability of a partnership does not just prove itself in good times – it does – even more so – in bad times. We have gone through some hard times with our Academy in the course of those 33 years, but it seems that the situation has never been as challenging as it is now, in 2020. Not only for EFA, for everybody, and we wouldn’t – and will not – be able to master the tasks ahead of us without our funding institutions’ unbureaucratic response to the needs in unusual times. We owe them another big THANK YOU, and that also includes the 27 EFA Patrons – national institutions of film and/or culture as well as companies involved in the production, distribution and exhibition of European cinema which support the European Film Awards – who stay with us at a moment when they themselves are facing big challenges in their own countries.This historic upheaval may request looking far beyond our own personal and professional needs, and most certainly beyond national interests. The European film industry, with its sense of solidarity and its co-operative spirit and expertise, is well equipped to develop new models for the future – and EFA, representing a comprehensive scope of European cinema, will play an important mediatorial role in this.
The European Film Academy is in good hands, and that makes it easy for us to leave. the wise and fearless new President to be announced during the General Assembly, Mike Downey as active and activist chairman, supported by a strong and motivated board and its two dynamic and diplomatic Deputy Chairwomen Rebecca O‘Brien and Ada Solomon, and Matthijs Wouter Knol as the new managing director with his innovative and preserving approach – they all will lead EFA into a new era.
We wish them the best of luck and, of course, we will always be there when they need us.
It has been an honour and a privilege to serve this Academy to which we will always keep a deep emotional connection.