Some of Europe’s top directors have come together to issue a statement offering alternatives to the European Commission’s proposed Digital Single Market that could revolutionize — and decimate — the European film business. The likes of Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist), Mike Leigh (Mr Turner), Ken Loach (The Wind That Shakes The Barley) and Matteo Garrone (Gomorrah) have all signed a declaration, released during the Rome Rendez-Vouz, claiming they “want to redefine how cinema can circulate from one country to the next.”

At stake, they argue, is the very future of the European film business if the EC moves forward with its controversial plans for a Digital Single Market that would re-write copyright legislation across the continent. The current plans include proposals that would create a unified market across Europe, thereby doing away with the ability for producers to finance their films by selling them to individual territories across Europe. Filmmakers have argued that if adopted in its current state, it would destroy the pre-sale market overnight and leave Europe’s existing finance models in disarray.

Flag of European UnionThe European Commission has argued that access to European content has become too complicated for European audiences. “It can be difficult, for example, for a Maltese consumer to download or stream from a German website,” reads one sentence on the European Commission’s website. In place of multiple licenses in each European territory, one of the idea’s mooted by the EC is for a single Pan-European license to cover the entire continent — an idea rejected by the majority of filmmakers.

“As copyright’s core principles are being questioned by some who erroneously think they hinder culture’s availability, we want to set out a new of exhibiting our cinema….Our common grounds such as copyright or cultural exception have to be protected and be at the core of new European cultural policy,” read their statement.

Amongst the alternate proposals are to support independent theatres and improve theatrical access across Europe; a request for public broadcasters to work on a charter for a better spreading of European films between and the creation of an independent European digital film platform; and for the creation of a European VOD platform capable of competing with global ones.

“The Internet has long been the subject of our worries, particularly since it helped piracy develop to previously unknown levels. We want to believe it can today become the best partner of European cinema. It can be part of the virtuous circle that comes from sharing wealth and value between all those who contribute to the financing of creation,” read the statement.

The statement also calls on the European Commission to “urgently devise a cultural tax system to which global players must adhere. The ideas of the French Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin about a taxation of bandwidth usage should be taken into consideration and thought out,” the directors said.