In the 1990s, the European Union launched its MEDIA programme, which helps improve the chances of European films, which are at a disadvantage in isolated domestic markets, against competition from the big Hollywood productions. The programme encourages the development of the European film industry and the production and distribution of European films. Thanks to MEDIA, it is easier for independent European filmmakers to develop new films and find partners and audiences beyond national borders. The programme also provides opportunities for professionals working in the sector to take part in courses and advanced training programmes.
The MEDIA brand can since boast many award-winning films in Cannes, Berlin and Hollywood. To name just two, Michael Haneke’s “Amour” won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2013 and “Amnesia” which was which was presented in Cannes 2015 during a special session.
Switzerland participated fully in the MEDIA programme between 2006 and 2013. The programme helped to boost the renown of Swiss cinema internationally and gave Swiss films a better chance of being shown abroad. Swiss films enjoyed a wider audience and more commercial potential thanks to the programme. This participation also guaranteed Swiss directors access to the same funding and promotional assistance, continuing education and training and professional networks as their counterparts in the EU member states. The programme’s main strength was the distribution sector. The Swiss public had the opportunity to discover 300 films per year from all over Europe. Several Swiss festivals could benefit from promotion assistance within the programme, such as the Fantoche International Animation Film Festival in Baden and the Visions du Réel Festival in Nyon.
Like the European films supported by MEDIA, Swiss productions win awards at prestigious festivals in Switzerland and abroad.
The new MEDIA programme – more excellent cooperation to come
The MEDIA 2007 – 2013 programme ended on 31 December 2013. As of 2014, it was integrated into the programme “Creative Europe” which includes the sub-programme “Culture”, aiming to enhance cultural diversity and to defend cultural heritage. Switzerland has not yet participated in the programme “Culture” but in 2014, the Swiss Government decided to participate. Negotiations of the bilateral agreement allowing Switzerland to participate in “Creative Europe” for the period 2014–2020 were blocked due to the acceptation of the popular initiative “Against mass immigration” of the 9th of February by the Swiss people. Thanks to the adoption of the measures of non-discrimination of Croatian citizens for the free movement of people by the Swiss government in April 2014, the negotiations could be unblocked. Two informal meeting have since then taken place and a third one is planned for autumn 2015. Nonetheless, it is very unlikely for Switzerland to participate in “Creative Europe” before 2017. To fill the gap of the MEDIA programme, the Swiss governement approved a credit of 5 million Swiss francs in order to implement a solution which assures the continuation of the ongoing projects and leads to a potential reintegration of Switzerland in the MEDIA programme. A reintegration into the programme still remains a priority as it is impossible to compensate important aspects such as international contacts