Charles Rivkin Closing Remarks at ANICA Venice Film Festival Panel Event

September 7, 2020

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Stan, for that introduction and for moderating a great panel.

Greetings and buongiorno everyone. I’d like to congratulate Roberto Cicutto, Alberto Barbera, and all the organizers, friends, participants, and supporters who are helping to make this another successful festival.

Francesco Rutelli, thanks for your leadership at ANICA in these challenging times.

And of course, Roberto Stabile, without whom our virtual and in person gathering today, from around the planet, would not be possible.

The world saw how well you adjusted to the new normal. There was Jury president Cate Blanchett and festival director Barbera greeting each other with masks on, and touching elbows.

You required face masks, temperature checks, and social distancing. You took the steps to ensure that one of the globe’s premier festivals could operate as best as possible under the circumstances.

Those circumstances I mentioned – the COVID era – has been on everyone’s mind, of course, and how quickly we can get back to full production. Moving forward, I know we can all work together to accelerate the pace of production, and do it responsibly, safely, and sustainably. We must come back as an industry, stronger, smarter, and more unified in our purpose than ever.

To do that, we must start by ensuring we protect the creativity that is the heartbeat of our industry. As the COVID era made clear, malicious actors abuse tools like social media and search engines to misinform, to disinform, to defraud consumers and to undermine legitimate commerce.

Illegal websites operate in the online equivalent of the Wild West.

When my organization investigates these illegal sites, we also find that many of them set up their services in the European Union. And they are buying critical business services like web hosting and payment processing while concealing their identities.

Disinformation, corruption, and criminality are threats to the health and wellbeing of our collective future. They cannot be ignored.

We must fight those forces by insisting on strong rule of law and real responsibility in the online environment.

That is exactly why the stated goal of the European Commission’s intended proposal for a new Digital Services Act is to lay down “more stringent” rules for the responsibilities of digital services.

Our industry must work together to ensure that this overall goal of “more stringent” rules remains top of mind when considering all policy options, especially where the Commission considers updating and modernizing the E-Commerce Directive.

I am concerned that some of the industries that have been part of the problem now seem to be asking for exactly the opposite:  Broader safe harbors. Fewer responsibilities. Less potential liability. That is not “more stringent.”  Our industry needs to be on guard against a weakening of the rules.

The same applies to copyright, the lifeblood of business.  That is why we look forward to Italy’s successful and careful implementation of the DSM copyright directive in a way that preserves copyright. The process is well on track, thanks in large part to Minister Franceschini, whose work to safeguard and promote this great industry of ours is much appreciated.

There are other factors to put into place to increase and encourage production: Tax credits is a major one. So is the streamlining of slow bureaucracy, and things like clear guidelines in terms of COVID protocols for incoming productions.

No one knows this better than Minister Franceschini. He has been a strong champion for an investor-friendly tax code, making this beautiful country with such a rich cultural heritage even more attractive to people who make film and television. We thank him for that, as well as his efforts to build strategies for sustainable growth based on the EU Green Deal.

The stakes for our industry are high. Before COVID, global box office and home entertainment reached record highs with a global total of $42.2 billion. Movie theater sales and streaming, together, crossed the $100 billion mark for the first time in history.

It’s a high bar to return to but there are so many encouraging signs already. Of course this isn’t just about these economic figures.

It is also about the millions of men and women who work in our industry. According to new research from Ernst & Young, there are more than 1 million people contributing directly to the development, production and distribution of film and audiovisual content across Europe. For every one of these directly employed people, there is one additional job created or maintained in the sector, representing another 1 million indirect jobs in the value chain. This is also what is at stake.

Cautiously and with extensive health precautions, many of these people are returning to work. In Italy, for example, Sony Pictures Television’s Leonardo was one of the first large-scale productions to resume production after the COVID crisis.

As you have discussed today, governments play an important role in making this possible while protecting public health.

When I was in Venice for the festival last year, there was an installation called Building Bridges that was created by Lorenzo Quinn. It consisted of six pairs of hands arching 50 feet over a waterway in Venice’s Castello District. They were there to symbolize unity.  Right now, unity is something we all need, not just in our sector, but in our society.

The unity to work together,

To take the right and responsible steps.

To continue moving forward.

Eyes on a better future.

Hand in hand.

With that, I will hand over the virtual mike back to Roberto. Grazie! And arriverderci Venezia!