The idea was simple:
Twenty-five countries, twenty-five visions from respected film directors from each of the respective countries that form the enlarged European Community. Each director would be asked to give a personal vision of current or future life in this coming cultural melting pot.The length of each film was set to five minutes.The initial idea came from commissioning editor Meinolf Zurhorst from ZDF- Germany/ARTE - France and the project was then conceived together with producer Mikael Olsen from the film production company Zentropa from Denmark.
The hope was to have a powerful manifestation of the cultural diversity of Europe as opposed to the idea of globalisation and conformity. The ambition was also to celebrate the artistic freedom and freedom of expression as this should be a key value of the European community.
The main financial contribution came from ZDF/ARTE. This created the possibility of giving all participants the same amount of money - regulated to an EU-index - and thus forming a basis budget from which each director and company could actually make a film of five minutes and by their own choice could seek further funding within the framework and support system of their own country. The idea of rights for the films were distributed in the way that each country held the rights for using their own film and the other 24 films within their own country. This created the option of selling to a national TV-station. As all involved agreed to the proposed exchange in rights, this gave an enormous promotional value to the project in its entirety. Instead of us all hanging doggedly onto our own rights, this selfless action, turned out to be a giant step for the project and in many ways was also defining as a small step toward European cooperation.The basic budget, the possibility of seeking further funding through official national channels and a possibility of presale became the economic foundation of each of the films.The Danish Film Institute, represented by film consultant Morten Hartkorn, generously supported the project, which financially helped some of the less fortunate participants residing in countries, where presales and national support systems are not as well established as in other places. It has also created the possibility of getting artwork and press release sheets done.All in all the budget is around 850.000 euros and we are confident that this basic budget has generated at least another 850.000 euros in additional support and presales bringing the total expenditure close to 2 mill. euros.
From mid-November 2003 to mid-January 2004 the directors and production companies were contacted and contracted. Everywhere we experienced a positive response and great enthusiasm for the project from both directors and producers. To facilitate the exchange of information, a website was created - www.visionsofeurope.dk or www.voe.dkDirectors and producers chose a lot of different approaches regarding the production from small one-man-one-camera productions shot on DV cam to high concept productions with 35 mm. film, sets and actors. Close to 500 people have participated in creating these films.Throughout the production Newsletters were distributed and the office at Zentropa consisting of production manager Charlotte Vinther, coordinator Antony Castle, assistant Christian de Coninck Lucas and producer Mikael Olsen were co-ordinating and assisting directors and producers as a whole, alongside also producing the Danish contribution.It was a great joy to experience the huge amount of dedicated professional film people facing tight deadlines and producing in this tough format with energy and sophistication.The films were delivered during the period from March 20th to April 13th, edited into a running order, together with artwork and music and throughout the last two weeks in April distributed to TV-stations who want to screen the films around May 1st. when the enlargement of the EU steps into action. The long version including all films runs for two hours. TV-stations in France, Ireland, Sweden, Estonia, Poland, Hungary, Belgium, and Denmark have at this time entered agreement to screen the films. In addition to the TV-screenings a number of film festivals have already taken an interest in the project.
The 25 films have become a varied high quality manifestation of European film. It has also become a sensitive body of work that witness past and present times and problems. There are themes that reoccur of borders, immigration, official institutions, power and the lives of ordinary people.
There is looking back but always with a perspective and a strong feeling of the necessity to look ahead to face the oncoming problems.
There are landscapes, cities, bodies, faces, languages, behaviours, rituals and all bear witness to the huge project of living together peacefully with common concerns regarding bureaucratic institutions, the raw power of the governments and the large corporations.
Here we have a unique opportunity to have a heartfelt look at ourselves, at our national traits, our diversities, our similarities, our strengths and weaknesses, thanks to the 25 five different artistic temperaments, and through their vision, challenge our own vision of Europe.
Producer - Zentropa
Faith Akin - Die alten bösen Lieder
Barbara Albert - Mars
Sharunas Bartas - Children Lose Nothing
Andy Bausch - The Language School
Christoffer Boe - Europe Does Not Exist
Francesca Comencini - Anna Lives in Marghera
Stijn Coninx - Self Portrait
Tony Gatlif - Paris by Night
Sasa Gedeon - Unisono
Christos Georgiou - My Life on Tape
Constantine Giannaris - Room for All
Peter Greenaway - European Showerbath
Miguel Hermoso - Our Kids
Arvo Iho - Euroflot
Aki Kaurismaki - Bico
Damjan Kozole - Europa
Laila Pakalnina - It'll Be Fine
Kenneth Scicluna - The Isle
Martin Sulik - The Miracle
Malgorzata Szumowska - Crossroad
Béla Tarr and Agnes Hranitzky - Prologue
Jan Troell - The Yellow Tag
Theo Van Gogh - Euroquiz
Teresa Villaverde - Cold Wa(te)r
Aisling Walsh - Invisible State