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, vocational training and the 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. In 2017, around twenty movies that were selected for the Cannes festival have benefitted from the MEDIA program’s support. Ten movies were chosen for an Oscar nomination, amongst which “Toni Erdmann” and “Ma vie de Courgette” that were elaborated by the Swiss producer Claude Barras. Both belonged to the category of best animation movies. The latter movie was supported by MEDIA in 2014.
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 - that allowed for the diffusion and the coproduction of the movies on a European level - 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 movie "Sisters - L'enfant d'en haut" of Ursula Meier not only won a Silberner Bär - an award of the international film festival of Berlin - in 2012, but the movie also got the Quartz award for the best science fiction movie and the best scenary in the Swiss cinema award ceremony in 2013.
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”. For the period of 2014-2020, MEDIA has approximately 819 million euros at his disposal.
"Creative Europe" 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 start negotiations in order to become part of it.
After a temporary blockage that was triggered by the vote of the 9th February 2014, the negotiations for a bilateral agreement that allows Switzerland to participate at “Creative Europe” were reconsidered in May 2014. Currently, these negotiations between the EU and Switzerland are still ongoing. Consequently, Switzerland and Swiss institutions are not permitted yet to participate in projects, nor can they get financial support of the “Creative Europe” program. To fill the gap of the MEDIA programme, the Swiss governement established measures to compensate this obstacle and to make sure that current projects are pursued and that Switzerland might be reintegrated into the MEDIA program. A reintegration is priority, because some aspects - such as international contacts - cannot be compensated.