This event provided the framework for a new meeting between the CNC-FFA alliance (with the attendance of Christophe Tardieu and Peter Dinges), as well the presentation by the Franco-German Co-Production Mini-Treaty Commission of its latest decisions for 2018, the holding of a committee meeting for the Franco-German Co-Development Fund for audiovisual drama productions, the holding of the Franco-German Film Academy's General Assembly, and, finally, the organization of a Co-Production Market that presented over twenty French and German co-production projects.
However, the main thrust of the agenda for this year's Meetings focused on a series of panel discussions and keynote addresses, which gave the French and German professionals present the chance to share their views and experiences, notably in relation to the production and distribution of animated films—a genre that is developing rapidly on both sides of the Rhine at this time (Ron Dyens from Sacrebleu Productions was the French representative at this discussion).
Another expanding genre was also at the center of discussions at the panel organized by the Atelier Network (an association of former students from the Atelier Paris-Ludwigsburg), which sought to describe, through the presence of young producers, current developments in the area of series production and relationships that are being forged between those commissioning series and distributors and broadcasters, in particular SVOD platforms. A number of producers presented their own cases, and made an appeal for a healthy degree of caution in this area when faced with the omnipotence of the major SVOD services, especially with regard to the ownership of works, artistic freedom, and relations with authors and creators of works.
The Erfurt Declaration
Marie Masmonteil (president of the Franco-German Film Academy) closed the first day of the event with the introduction of another high point of the 2018 session. At the instigation of UniFrance, German Films, the SACD, and the Franco-German Film Academy, and as announced by its president and approved by acclamation by the 170 professionals present, an official declaration dubbed The Erfurt Declaration has been formulated in defense of authors' rights. The declaration was read and explained to the audience, with support from Laure Gicquel from SACD), at a time when discussions currently being held on this subject on a European level are reaching a crucial phase.
The second day opened with two highly acclaimed keynote speeches, the first on the current situation for Franco-German co-productions (by Fabian Gasmia from Detailfilm), and the second on the necessity, according to Bruno Nahon (Unité (ex-Unité de Production)) for producers to regain their power and increase their expertise at the creation phase of films. Nahon notably shared his desire to see a greater interaction between producers in order for them to "produce better"— notably by increasing their understanding of the technological stakes involved and the technical material deployed during film shoots.
Peter Dinges then moderated a panel discussion on the subject of possible alliances between players in the French-speaking and German-speaking territories in the area of film development, production, distribution, and broadcast. He also made the suggestion that the Franco-German Film Meetings could evolve to become Film Meetings between French-speaking and German-speaking regions (including Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Belgium), a subject that will be discussed between representatives at the Franco-German Film Academy.
After a keynote speech on film education and the importance of film festivals for young audiences made by Nicola Jones (Goldener Spatz Festival), which was followed by a presentation by Marie Masmonteil of the upcoming media release chronology, a final panel discussion was moderated by Sarah Drouhaud (Le Film Français), which explored the possibility of the emergence of a Europe-wide SVOD platform. Marysabelle Côte (Arte GEIE), Jean-Yves Bloch (UniversCiné), and Andreas Wildfang (Eyz Media) each presented their projects, ambitions, and visions for this new potential service. Marysabelle Côte highlighted the challenges involved in the creation of a European audience (particularly with regard to strategies for providing multiple languages and the ArteKino project), while Andreas Wildfang presented his platform and his technical proposal for the development of digital service platforms. These technological issues were also raised by Jean-Yves Bloch, who spoke of financial aspects that would allow for the development of the necessary tools, for attracting a wider audience and acquiring the rights for the utilization of content. After the potentials of these proposals and the obstacles faced, a unanimous vote was made to declare that competition with the GAFAN group (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Netflix) could be envisaged, but that this could not involve direct competition with these American giants, but rather focus on developing an alternative offer for which a target audience already exists, an audience who must thus be offered, without delay, a different choice of European works to watch.
Marie Masmonteil officially closed the two-day event with the announcement that the torch would now be passed from the city of Erfurt to Mulhouse, which will host next year's Franco-German Film Meetings on November 26 and 27, 2019.