A two-day international visionary conference, organised at the initiative of the Estonian Ministry of Culture, concluded on Tuesday, 28 November. At the event, experts from the audiovisual and film spheres, policymakers and visionaries discussed how the European media and film industry can retain its cultural distinctiveness and remain relevant within the context of the digital era and globalisation.
In his opening remarks, Estonian Minister of Culture Indrek Saar emphasised that the risks and opportunities that accompany new technologies must be weighed carefully in order to find the right balance between them. “We can already see how technologies have started to change society. We are witnessing the emergence of a new vast resource - data. While this new raw resource is emerging, it is changing the way the old resources are used and collected,” Saar said. He noted that the value of the EU data market in 2016 was about € 60 million euros and could surpass €106 billion by 2020. “It is very important to start a discussion in society about what these new trends will bring about and how they could benefit the society the most,” said Saar.
The presentations and panel discussions at the conference considered how to better highlight European audiovisual content in the digital age in the context of the so-called super platforms such as Amazon, Google, Netflix etc. The idea that resonated was that the super platforms should be treated as good global success stories, which enable delivering content to the users more effectively and in bigger volume. However, it was also recognised that when profiting significantly from audiovisual content, the obligation to make a creative contribution also extends to the platforms. In addition, the technological developments should not be overemphasised, but rather the people’s level of activity or inactivity in the context of these technological developments should be assessed. During the discussions, answers were sought to address what Europe should do at all levels in order to ensure that European context is competitive and reaches the users better. It was recognised that is very important to support entrepreneurship and promote cooperation between the creative and business sectors in order to create supportive ecosystems. Also raised was the importance of the grassroots activities as part of any discussion on content creation, along with an active and entrepreneurial citizenry because, by itself, regulation at the governmental level is insufficient.
“As a precondition for upscaling the European audiovisual landscape and staying relevant, we need less fragmented internal market and real and functioning digital single market. We also need copyright rules fit for the digital reality, to ensure better legal access to the audiovisual content,” said Jörgen Gren, Member of the Cabinet of Andrus Ansip, Vice-President of the European Commission. “We must also provide strong support for the creative sector, for example, through the Creative Europe programme; and effective measures against piracy in place in Europe,” said Gren.
The discussions at the two-day conference were summed up by a keynote by Sir David Puttnam, the renowned film producer. “Data becomes the new infrastructure”, Puttnam said. “We can proceed only value-based,” said Puttnam. He emphasised that in order to find the solutions, the sector must take the initiative to ensure that the European content reaches the public. “Regulating to change the situation is too big an expectation. It is up to us (audiovisual sector) to choose who we work with, what audiences we want to reach; to define our values – we have control over our choices,” Sir Puttnam emphasised.
Lord Puttnam said the participating in the Estonian Presidency conference in Tallinn has once again demonstrated to him that Estonia is a dynamic and forward-looking country bursting with energy, intelligence and innovative ideas. “I was extremely impressed by those I met, including a young Estonian innovator Christer Loob, who I’ve already put in touch with my London colleagues. I hope the conference inspires many similar fruitful collaborations,” the award-winning British film producer said.
An impressive line-up of prominent speakers appeared at the two-day conference. Among others Jeremy Darroch, the CEO of European media giant Sky Group, who spoke on the opening day; along with Barak Berkowitz, Director of Operations and Strategy at the MIT Media Lab; Efe Cakarel, the founder and CEO of MUBI, a company focused on the streaming of art-house films; Peter Arvai, CEO and co-founder of Prezi, a cloud-based presentation software company. Participants in the panel discussions included representatives from Google, Netflix, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE), European Film Agency Directors (EFADS); ARRI, a global supplier of motion picture film equipment; makers of the TV series Babylon Berlin, and the European Commission.
The conference can be viewed online on the Ministry of Culture website here. A photo gallery of the event (being updated) is available from the Ministry of Culture Flickr. Photographer: Rene Riisalu.
The Estonian EU Presidency conference PICTURED FUTURES: CONNECTING CONTENT, TECH & POLICY IN AUDIOVISUAL EUROPE took place on 27 and 28 November in Tallinn, at the initiative of the Ministry of Culture, at the Kosmos IMAX Cinema, in cooperation with the in cooperation with the Black Nights Film Festival and the support of the European Commission and Enterprise Estonia.
Audiovisual Adviser, Ministry of Culture