The Locarno Film Festival has joined France's CNC, the
UK's British Council, bfm International Film Festival, Screen East and
Germany's Goethe Institut among the initial partners for a new European film development
initiative, Babylon. Fiona Howe and Gareth Jones of the UK production house
Scenario Films and Thierry Lenouvel of France's Cine-Sud Promotion unveiled the
initative in Locarno this weekend.
Babylon is intended as a pan-European forum "in
which minority filmmakers can speak to each other and to the widest
international audience, providing access and inclusion" with the provision
of such activities as screenplay development workshops, training initiatives,
conferences and film festival events.
"Through a discovery of shared experience Babylon celebrates
Europe's cultural diversity, a motor for European integration, an affirmation
of solidarity between filmmakers across the continent," the founders said.
Following Locarno, the initiative will also be presented
at London's bfm International Film Festival in September when a Europe-wide
call for projects will be launched. The names of the successful candidates for
a project development workshop would then be announced at the Amiens Film
Festival in November.
According to Gareth Jones, the new venture is looking to
win the support of the Berlin Film Festival for the staging of its first
full-scale event during the festival next February. This event would include a
three-day project development workshop for the selected projects; a
networking/pitching forum to introduce the films of cultural minorities to
potential producers, co-producers, and distributors; and a one-day conference
on the state of European cultural inclusion in the film world, open to all participants
at the Berlinale and others by invitation or application.
The programme would subsequently offer a follow-up
session for the workshop candidates and onward mentoring by experienced figures
within the minority film community.
Citing the emergence of Fatih Akin in Germany, Karim
Dridi in France and Gurinder Chadha in the UK as new minorities arriving in the
mainstream, the progamme's architects concluded that "the aim of Babylon is
to bring the richness of our cultural experience to all, to open up the wealth
of individual experience to the majority who otherwise are left with little
idea of their neighbours. Only in the context of their shared European identity
do our minorities have a common experience to communicate, and that shared
European identity involves us all."