European directors’ and screenwriters’ societies launch a new association in Brussels

On the eve of the opening of the 63rd Cannes International Film Festival and a few days after the publication of the European Commission’s long-awaited Green Paper on Cultural and Creative Industries, a new organisation defending the rights of European audiovisual authors was launched in Brussels.

At a press conference that took place today in Residence Palace the Society of Audiovisual Authors (SAA) was launched in Brussels. SAA is an association of 24 European Collective Management Societies representing film and television screenwriters and directors - over 100,000 from over 17 countries.

SAA’s main objectives were outlined as being: 1) to defend and strengthen the economic and moral rights of audiovisual authors, 2) to campaign to secure fair remuneration for audiovisual authors for every use of their works and 3) to develop, promote and facilitate the management of rights.

An SAA Board of Patrons consisting of eminent writers and directors from the audiovisual sector has been established. The Board will raise awareness of the real concerns of audiovisual authors and actively participate in the debate and speak publicly on behalf of SAA and its members.

Members of the board include Jaco Van Dormael director and screenwriter of the César and Golden Camera Award-winning film Toto le Héros, Roger Michell, director of Notting Hill, the critically acclaimed Belgian filmmaking duo Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, and also multi-award winning Bertrand Tavernier, Marco Tullio Giordana, Agnès JaouiFred BreinersdorferRadu Mihăileanu and Italian cinema veteran Carlo Lizzani.

Two members of the Board of Patrons spoke at today’s launch. Marco Tullio Giordana, director of The Best of Youth, recipient of the prestigious Un Certain Regard award at the Cannes Film Festival admitted that: “It’s not only about money, it’s also about freedom of expression.”

Roger Michell spoke about his own experience as a director of a highly successful film. Although the film has been widely distributed theatrically, on television and on DVD, with gross receipts several times more than the original budget, he has not received anything over and above his original fee. He added: “The launch of SAA is a very important step, particularly for British film directors who were only recognised as authors in 1996 thanks to a European directive. Authors throughout Europe have to work together.”

Luigi Berlinguer, Vice-Chairman of the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs warmly welcomed the establishment of the new organisation.