COVID-19: Creative & cultural sectors (CCS)

06/10: InvestEU - 26 organisations call for support for the cultural and creative sectors (CCS) – UNIC website

26 organisations from across Europe's cultural and creative sectors, including UNIC, have written to European Commissioners Thierry Breton (Internal Market) and Paolo Gentiloni (Economy) to urge the EU to ensure that the CCS will benefit from an appropriate level of support via InvestEU.

COVID – 19 : EU response

12/10: Coronavirus Dashboard: EU Cohesion Policy response to the coronavirus crisis – European Commission

The Commission announces the first provisional results of the implementation of the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative (CRII) and Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative Plus (CRII+).

09/10: COVID-19: Council agrees its position on the Recovery and Resilience Facility – Council of the EU

With a financial envelope of €672.5 billion, the facility will support public investments and reforms and contribute to economic, social and territorial cohesion within the EU. It will help member states address the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic whilst ensuring that their economies undertake the green and digital transitions, becoming more sustainable and resilient.

13/10: State aid: Commission prolongs and expands Temporary Framework to further support companies facing significant turnover losses – European Commission

The European Commission has decided to prolong and extend the scope of the State aid Temporary Framework adopted on 19 March 2020 to support the economy in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. All sections of the Temporary Framework are prolonged for six months until 30 June 2021, and the section to enable recapitalisation support is prolonged for three months until 30 September 2021.

07/10: European Commission to issue EU SURE bonds of up to €100 billion as social bonds – European Commission

The European Commission announced that it will issue its forthcoming EU SURE bonds of up to €100 billion as social bonds. To that end, the Commission has adopted an independently evaluated Social Bond Framework. This Framework is meant to provide investors in these bonds with confidence that the funds mobilised will serve a truly social objective.

EU Digital Services Act (DSA)

15/10: Parliament to outline its priorities for the future Digital Services Act – European Parliament

With the upcoming Digital Services Act (DSA), the European Union aims to shape the digital economy not only at EU level but also to be a standard-setter for the rest of the world, as it did with data protection. In two separate “legislative initiative” reports, the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the Legal Affairs committees call on the Commission to address and tackle current shortcomings in the online environment in its DSA package, due to be presented by the end of the year.

16/10: Why does the EU want to regulate the platform economy? – European Parliament

The platform economy brings benefits but also risks. Read about the issues the EU wants to solve with new rules and the solutions proposed by MEPs.

07/10: IMCO Report: Improving the functioning of the Single Market – European Parliament
Amendments available here.

05/10: JURI Report: Adapting commercial and civil law rules for commercial entities operating online – European Parliament

Amendments available here.

Events :

19-23 October: European Parliament Plenary, Brussels – vote on DSA reports in IMCO, LIBE and JURI 

19 October: 18th EFARN (European Film Agency Research Network) meeting

19 October: FAPAV/MIA webinar “After the lockdown, restarting legality together” 15.00

20 October – Negotiations/Trilogue on the future Creative Europe Programme 

20-22 October: EUIPO Observatory Working Group meetings

26-27 October: European Parliament CULT Committee meeting

26-27 October: European Parliament IMCO Committee meeting

28 October: European Internet Forum event on geo-blocking

2 December: European Commission legislative proposal for the Digital Services Act (DSA) – TBC

Recent studies :

EP JURI - The impact of algorithms for online content filtering or moderation : "Upload filters" - September 2020

EAO - The European audiovisual industry in the time of COVID-19 - September 2020

The Georgian National Film Center, Institut Français de Géorgie, Georgian Animators Association”Saqanima”, Filmcenter “Georgian Film-Abkhazeti”, ​​„ReAnimania“ International Animation Film and Comics Art Festival of Yerevan, Festival International du film d’animation d’Annecy MIFA and film studio Kvali XXI organised, from 28 September 2020 to 2 October, for the VI time, the animation film project pitching workshop Annecy-Tbilisi.

The festival has selected 18 films in competition and three out of competition, coming from many corners of the globe to be screened at the hybrid edition of the 24th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival.

Featuring ten world premieres, seven international and one European, the programme embodies the festival’s mission to discover emerging creative voices from all over the world, offering them an initial launchpad and catapulting them toward international recognition. Three first features will also screen out of competition: one Austrian, one British and one Spanish/Italian co-production. One film, Why Not You will be screened as a shared premiere with the Zürich International Film Festival, while another, Should the Wind Drop, bears the Cannes Official Selection 2020 label. 

Award-Winning Timely Documentary Highlights The Vital Role Of Journalism In The Fight Against Corruption at The Highest Levels of Government

Berlin, October 15, 2020 - The Romanian Film Centre/CNC Romania has selected Alexander Nanau’s critically acclaimed observational documentary COLLECTIVE as Romania’s official Oscar® entry for Best International Feature, the first time a Romanian documentary has been the country’s official submission.

COLLECTIVE is sold internationally by Cinephil and will be released on November 20th in the USA by Magnolia Pictures and Participant and in the UK and Ireland by Dogwoof and Participant. On November 25th it will be in French Cinemas released by Sophie Dulac distribution. COLLECTIVE will be released in many other countries this fall including Israel, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. The film is also currently available in 20 countries through HBO Europe.

COLLECTIVE had its world premiere in Venice last year, before having its North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. COLLECTIVE also screened at Sundance earlier this year, and was an official selection of New Directors/New Films, IDFA, True/False, CPH DOX, the San Francisco International Film Festival, Göteborg International Film Festival, Full Frame, and Hamptons International Film Festival, where it recently won Best Documentary Feature. The film will next screen in Germany at DOK Leipzig. At the end of November, it will be broadcast by Germany’s MDR.

COLLECTIVE is part of the European Film Awards Shortlist and can be voted for a nomination in the category European Documentary. The film also recently won Best International Documentary at It's All True Brazil, Best Documentary Conscience Competition at Docville Belgium, Best International Documentary at DocAviv Film Festival, Best International Documentary at Zürich Film Festival, and Best International Documentary at Luxemburg, among others.

Directed by Alexander Nanau (TOTO AND HIS SISTERS), COLLECTIVE follows a team of investigative journalists as they uncover shocking, widespread corruption. After a deadly nightclub fire, the mysterious death of the owner of a powerful pharmaceutical firm, and the quiet resignation of a health minister—seemingly unrelated events, all within weeks of each other—the team of intrepid reporters exposes a much larger, much more explosive political scandal. COLLECTIVE is a fast-paced, real-life thriller about truth, accountability, and the value of an independent press in partisan times.

“The hospital corruption and subsequent government cover up in COLLECTIVE took place in Romania,” said Nanau. “Yet this is not just a local story. There is a universality that is even more relevant post Covid. Government corruption is sadly all too familiar across the world and the need to safeguard social justice and press freedom feels more urgent than ever. These are freedoms that have been compromised lately around the world. There could not be a more important time to bring this film to an international audience.”

Directed and filmed by Alexander Nanau, COLLECTIVE is produced by Nanau and Bianca Oana, Bernard Michaux and Hanka Kastelicová. The film is an Alexander Nanau Production in co-production with Samsa Film Luxembourg and HBO Europe, with the support of Romanian Film Centre, Luxembourg Film Fund, and Sundance Documentary Fund, with the participation of Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (MDR), Radio Télévision Suisse (RTS), RSI Radiotelevisione Svizzera, YES Docu and the support of the Sundance Documentary Fund. Executive producers are Antony Root and Philippa Kowarsky.

Watch the Trailer for Collective

Download the Press Kit

Alexander Nanau is a German-Romanian filmmaker who studied directing at the Deutsche Film-und Fernsehakademie Berlin (DFFB). His first feature length documentary PETER ZADEK INSZENIERT PEER GYNT was released theatrically in Germany and Austria. His documentary film, THE WORLD ACCORDING TO ION B was awarded an International Emmy Award in 2010. His feature documentary film TOTO AND HIS SISTERS was a European Academy Award nominee 2015. The film had a wide international distribution and played successfully in festivals worldwide. Alexander served as Director of Photography for the French/German documentary NOTHINGWOOD (Sonia Kronlund) that was shot in Afghanistan and premiered in Cannes as part of La Quinzaine des Réalisateurs in 2017. His latest feature length documentary COLLECTIVE premiered at the Venice IFF 2019- as part of the Official Selection - Out of Competition. Alexander is also teaching and mentoring in several intl. Film Universities and Filmlabs.

Spiral by Cecília Felméri is a film that elopes strict genre frames. A poetic portrait of an old house by a forest pond, somewhere in the Hungarian wilderness, gives space to enter into the depths of not only the elements of nature – earth, water and fire – but also into the minds of heroes torn by life doubts and emotions pulsating just under the skin, at the tip of the tongue. A full-of-regrets story about the crisis of relationship is brutally cut short by a personal tragedy, and the drama is echoed by a disturbing atmosphere of a beautiful, albeit sad place, as well as omnipresent loneliness, alienation and lack of communication.

We know that Bence (Bogdan Dumitrche) and Janka (Diána Magdolna Kiss) are going through a crisis of relationship from the moment they appear on the screen. Although – mirroring the charming neighborhood they live – there is silence between them. It is a silence full of tension and dissatisfaction. Bence would like to build a quiet life in a forest corner, Janka would rather start working at school. What's more, the nature around the characters seems to react to the amount of internal friction and animosity. More and more fish in the pond are dying, and the reason for this micro-ecological collapse is a secret from even Bence, who in the past worked as a school biologist. Just like the aggressive catfish that the protagonist will put into the pond – following the advice of a friend – to move the fossilized system of flora and fauna, in the life of the couple will come changes that will move and break their ecosystem.

The director guides her characters sparingly, consciously using the natural setting, slowly enjoying the silence, the self-building atmosphere and going deeper and deeper into the center of psychology. Dumitrche's gloomy performance is charismatic – flashes of carefully hidden emotions work much more effectively than if these emotions were to come to the fore in one big burst.

Spiral focuses on male tragedy – which is particularly interesting as the film was written and shot by a woman. Felméri does not judge, but simply watches. She does not evaluate any of the attitudes – not when Bence seems deaf to his partner's mute voice about the need for independence or when he breaks down, abandoning all responsibilities and drowning in his own sense of guilt.

A place that was supposed to be almost magical ceases to be coherent. There are too many repetitions of metaphors – dead animals, birds trying to fly home, dead fish, changing seasons, etc. – which slowly turns the film from poetic subtlety into repetitive roughness. It is a pity that due to the number of metaphors there was not enough room for a non-male perspective.

The images captured by György Réder harmonize well with the characters' emotions and create a unique atmosphere of a quiet, lonely place away from civilization. It is the visual layer that makes the film – despite the overwhelmingly dark subject matter – easy to watch.

Spiral, as the director's full-length debut, presents itself as a mature work, which shows the author's developing style. And although it is not without its drawbacks, it should be remembered that in ecosystems – especially creative ecosystems – achieving the right balance is a time-consuming process and requires delicacy. Nobody wants to end up in a spiral.

Ksawery Szczepanik, an emerging Polish documentary filmmaker, sat down for a brief discussion at the 36th edition of Warsaw Film Festival. Going for Gold chronicles the rise and fall of pole vaulting athlete Władysław Kozakiewicz, who became famous in the 1980s for both world records and a bras d'honneur gesture – that quickly became a symbol of resistance against the Communist regime. The film merges archive footage with interviews to paint a compelling portrait of Kozakiewicz – an attempt to broaden the knowledge about his career in those tumultuous years in Poland.

Going for Gold is probably the first film about Władysław Kozakiewicz. How did you find an interest in his persona and his story for your documentary?

I tried to pick protagonists who resemble the fate of the Greek Icarus, who wanted to fly. He flew too close to the Sun and this made his wings fall apart, so he landed in the sea and died. This is something that I look for amongst people that I can potentially make a film about. In the fate or in the life of Kozakiewicz, this is what I noticed. That was the beginning.

How was the relationship between you and Kozakiewicz? How did you manage to make him open up so much in front of the camera?

I’m not sure I managed to do that, but he surprised me with his tears. Kozakiewicz, in this film, when he’s talking about his career, he says, “All the doors were open to me, at some point, after winning in Moscow”. In a way, doors presently open in front of filmmakers as well. With documentary films, either the doors are locked and they‘ll never open or they open really quickly - this was the case with Kozakiewicz. I don’t quite remember how I managed to get to him, but it wasn’t too difficult to find his telephone number. He said, “Yes, let’s meet, let’s talk about it”. He was definitely comfortable speaking about his rise, but I did push him a little bit to be able to talk about this period of his career when he wasn’t the best pole vault jumper any more. 

Has your drive to make the film anything to do with your interest in sports?

I think my past and my childhood helped me. My father used to take me to the stadium and make me run circuits. I knew the taste of sweat and I could, somehow, feel the same emotion as probably Kozakiewicz did. He was feeling that at a larger scale, although. As an example, if I have to make a film about a musician, as I have no musical education, it would be more difficult to feel the same as he or she does.

Kozakiewicz’s success as a pole vaulter marks a critical time in Poland’s history, which your film analyses through both official and personal archive footage. How did you have access to this footage? 

My inspiration was Asif Kapadia’s film about Senna - a documentary that was made only with archives. I found it great and we thought we should do it in Poland as well. We do have Polish Television and another production house that used to make documentary films back under Communism, but it turned out there wasn’t much 35mm film in Poland at that time. We had to contact German, Russian and French television to look through their archives on Kozakiewicz. The rest of the videos belong to Władysław and to another photographer who appears in the film.

How do you think Kozakiewicz’s infamous gesture against the Soviet Union is perceived today?

We have this saying in Polish, “Kozakiewicz’s gesture”, but who’s Kozakiewicz is still a question for younger generations. I wanted to answer this and show how this spontaneous gesture became a political one. That sign took him all the way up to the sun, with all the consequences that came along.

Following the prominent dissident and symbol of the Czechoslovakian resistance, idiosyncratic Václav Havel, a playwright, political activist and post-Dubcek president, Havel is a biopic with a familiar trajectory. It depicts the struggles with censorship and the intrusions into private lives between 1968 and the Velvet Revolution, at a time when Warsaw Pact troops under Soviet authority roamed the streets, safeguarding the party’s interests and repressing any dissent. There’s a shot to which director Slávek Horák returns time and time again, capturing the horror of having to face a blank piece of paper and a pen, faced with the alternative of complying with the Soviets’ requests and thus giving up the fight, or leaving that sheet unscathed in the name of a principle. A Hidden Life, Terrence Malick’s latest feature on the horrors of nazism, is also about similar dilemmas. In both films, the political police assure victims that they only need to sign as a formality. This formality commonly means destroying who you were before, by adhering to a form of moral lobotomy.

When Soviet troops show up with restrictions on human rights, Havel’s theatre can no longer produce his screenplays. The dutiful officers of the party seem to spy from every corner, so any slight act of rebellion is immediately put down. Though naive at first, believing that Dubcek’s loose, liberal approach will last forever, Havel (Viktor Dvořák) is increasingly embittered by the president’s lack of response. Popular in Prague and with a myriad of supporters, Havel starts to write Charter 77, a pamphlet demanding individual freedom. There are two divergent points in Havel’s representation, painting him as either a powerless victim or an empowered leader of the revolution. Horák seems stuck between the admiration for Havel’s monolithic public figure and the intimate portrait of a man. There are times, however, when the director finds the ideal balance between the two, by breaking the fourth wall to turn reality into a play on a stage and allowing Havel to rewrite his own memories, from working in a brewing factory or taking the stand at a trial.

Havel the man can at times be less of a graceful comrade, carelessly treating both his wife and his mistress. An important figure in Havel’s life like his wife Olga (Aňa Geislerová) is depicted merely as a jealous, sour presence, mostly smoking in bed. Such choices and others, like a thrilling, futile car-chase with the political police while spreading leaflets of the Charter through the streets of Prague, are indicative of the mainstream scope of the film. They all contribute to a form of self-exoticization, reassuring western viewers of their beliefs about the Soviet Union and communism in general. That same western audience seems to be the primary target of such a biopic, glorifying lesser known figures of political activism and shifting the perspective away from domestic viewers, which makes it irrelevant for anyone who’s lived that era.

The latest film by Latvian director Ilze Burkovska Jacobsen, My Favorite War / Moja ulubiona wojna (2020), summons the communist past of Latvia, recollected through the director’s memories of childhood and adolescence. Merging animation, archive footage and live action, the documentary reenacts history on its own ethical terms – Jacobsen is not interested in alluding to facts and events which she or her family hasn’t previously experienced. On the contrary, she’s invested in a personal reinterpretation of domestic and social hardships in the emerging political background.

The bidimensional animation is driven by Ilze’s sense of belonging in both her family and her country. Thread by thread, the film showcases how Ilze was tricked to serve the socialist values in order to pursue a career in journalism, as a way of honoring her late father – a reliable man of the party. While the voice-over belongs to the adult Ilze, the animated representation is her miniature, a not-so-naïve little red pioneer. Focusing on micro-histories is a fine instrument of storytelling in this case: Jacobsen finds inventive ways to draw out the larger realities through the tiny discoveries of this girl, such as finding human bones while playing in a sandpit as a child.

Whereas the animation has its own internal consistency and reliable characters, the use of different visual formats feels crammed, and ends up disrupting the film’s rhythm. My Favorite War’s greatest achievement is crafting a deeply personal take on the history of a country. Yet the attempt could have been more easily successful by preserving the continuity of the animation itself, which we grew to trust in the process.

Scumbag, by Slovak filmmakers Rudolf Biermann and Mariana Čengel Solčanská, is a solid political drama that takes no prisoners. Although their story has a documentary flair, addressing the real tragedy of the murder of Slovak investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and adapting a book by Árpád Soltész, Biermann and Solčanská are drawn to themes of power and corruption in a universal way, without claiming any right to the truth.

The new prime minister, Bobo (Marko Igonda), quickly realizes that his associates are carrying out illegal business projects, sexually abusing underage girls, drowning in drugs and alcohol. When the first shock has passed, vomited with doubts straight into the lake, the head of state has no choice but to become part of this group.

We come across a chess board, on which all the pieces have already been placed and all orders have been given. Despite an unexpected, late transition from political drama to a reporter's investigation, Scumbag lacks a proper exposition of political heroes and the complexity of their intentions and actions, which leaves it to deal mostly with conspiracy theories. Even a daring genre shift fails to have a narrative meaning.

We end up with the same thought we started with – politics means rolling in the mud, and everyone has to get dirty. Scumbag is accompanied by the impression that not only is the plot inevitably coming to a dead end, but politics itself might be a trap with no way out.

From the butt in the backyard to the passion of the wastepaper collector – the Short Film Competition and the U18 Youth Film Competition of the 30th FilmFestival Cottbus 
Down-to-earth attitude mixed with poetry – alongside the international Feature Film Competition, FilmFestival Cottbus presents the Short Film Competition and the U18 Youth Film Competition, which showcase the entire creative spectrum of the Eastern European cinema. For the first time, the winners of these two competitions will also be honoured with the FFC award LUBINA.
The 30th FilmFestival Cottbus will take place from November 3 to 8, 2020 in Cottbus and five other locations in the region as well as online from November 3 to 21 nationwide.