Charles Rivkin Remarks for the German Producers Alliance

February 15, 2018

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Good morning. Thank you, Alexander, for those kind words – and thank you for everything the Producers Alliance has done to support creativity in Germany and across Europe.

In just ten years, the Producers Alliance has grown from 80 member companies to more than 250, working across every aspect of film and television. You have become a powerful voice for Germany’s artists and storytellers, and a vital partner of the global film and television industry I am proud to represent.

Congratulations on your 10th anniversary, and thank you again for your tireless work.

I also want to recognize Germany’s Culture Minister, Professor Monika Grütters, who will speak later today.

Last year, Culture Minister Grütters launched the DFFF 2 funding program to make production incentives across Germany more competitive. She is a champion for the creative industries, having led the coalition negotiations for this sector. Minister Grütters recognizes the economic benefits culture and creative industries bring to Germany, and I thank her for her leadership.

It is truly a pleasure to be here at the Berlinale among colleagues, creators, and innovators, who all share a passion for film and the human connections it creates around world.


The American film director and screenwriter, Kenneth Longergan – who brought global audiences The Gangs of New York, and more recently, Manchester by the Sea – once said, “Filmmaking, like any other art, is a very profound means of human communication; beyond the professional pleasure of succeeding or the pain of failing, you want your film to be seen, to communicate itself to other people.”

The Berlinale is an inspiring celebration of humanity and the bonds we forge through film.

It brings cultures and peoples together, and allows artists to share their stories with diverse audiences.

I have seen firsthand the power of film and television to build understanding across borders during my time both as an Ambassador to France and at the U.S. State Department.

And I see that power right here at the Berlinale.

Look at the Competition category for this year’s festival. The 24 films selected represent 24 different countries – from Iran and Ireland, Argentina and Austria, to Switzerland and Sweden.

Among these productions, Marcelo Martinessi’s film Las Herederas – or The Heiresses – is the first feature film from Paraguay ever invited to compete for the highest award.

Renowned German filmmaker Christian Petzold returns to the Berlinale, six years after his triumphant Barbara, for the world premiere of Transit.

The festival will also debut its first Rwandan feature film. Imfura shows us humanity in its rawest form, based on director Samuel Ishimwe’s experiences immediately following the Rwandan genocide. The themes it explores…those of loss, self-discovery, and the meaning of family…stir emotions in us all.

Which was exactly Samuel’s purpose. He said, “To be selected at one of the top festivals in the world means that what we did resonates with a universalaudience.”

Indeed, his film, among the nearly 400 others of every genre, length, and format being screened across these 10 days, delivers a human connection. These works address urgent social and political issues, from immigration and sexuality to terrorism and overcoming adversity.

They offer a glimpse into the realities of others and show us just how much we all have in common.


But before they touch hearts or challenge our minds, these films are made possible by the innovation and collaboration that drive the creative process.

Artists and creators unite across cultures and continents to tell these stories. Tonight’s opening film, Isle of Dogs – a quirky stop-motion animated feature from Wes Anderson, is a perfect example.

The story was inspired by Japanese society…written and directed by an American…and filmed in the UK. Cultures and perspectives came together to create something profound.

And it was co-produced by the famed Studio Babelsberg, which I had the pleasure of touring just yesterday.

Where else can you find global cooperation that leads to such unique creations?  The ability to work together is one of the great strengths of our sector. And it is that shared purpose that helps the MPA and the Producers Alliance collaborate on the most pressing issues facing our industry today.

As the European Commission considered the Digital Single Market, we stood side by side to uphold the funding model that is vital to cross-border collaboration in Europe. The direct involvement of producers, creators, and artists across Europe made the difference in our advocacy.

The Producers Alliance was so critical to this effort, in Brussels and across the continent, and I thank you for your partnership.

Together, we reminded policymakers that weakening copyright and IP protections will have a devastating effect on our industry. Doing so would limit our ability to continue to produce the wonderful films and TV shows and series that all of us enjoy so much.

We are a digital industry. The Digital Single Market should be our market, and it should be built to help creativity thrive. This includes the need for territorial exclusivity.

I led a production company that relied on exclusive territorial presales to finance our productions. I know that exclusivity is the lifeblood of our industry. And while we have made important progress on this crucial issue, we have much more to do.

If policy frameworks do not protect our innovations, we could lose so much of the creativity made right here in Europe.

Over the past 25 years, our member companies have partnered to produce more than 200 local films in Europe, including many successful German films like In the Fade and Honey in the Head.

In that same period, MPA members have acquired distribution rights for another 800 local films, and partnered with local EU creative companies to produce more than 500 local television series and specials.

We’ve seen such creative works as You Are Wanted from Amazon and Warner Bros. Germany…the Netflix series Dark, which is among its most-watched non-English shows…and the series Babylon Berlin from acclaimed Producers Stefan Arndt, Uwe Schott, and Michael Polle, who I believe are here with us today.

We must do everything in our power to cultivate this creativity. That includes protecting these works from theft and the global threat of online piracy.

Last year, there were an estimated 21.4 billion total visits to streaming piracy sites worldwide on both desktops and mobile devices.

It is an existential threat to our industry and creators everywhere. It demands our attention and summons us to action.

To that end, I am proud that in June 2017, MPAA helped bring together 30 leading content creators, including Germany’s own Constantin Film and Studio Babelsberg, to form the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment.

This global collaboration has already seen important victories against illicit streaming devices like Tickbox in the United States, and the elimination of apps that enable access to pirated content, here in Europe and in other parts of the world.

Beyond protecting the films and television programs we all love, ACE and other collaborative antipiracy efforts around the world are the front-line defense for the global creative economy.

For wherever film and television shows are made, real economic opportunity follows.

This morning, across Europe, more than 11 million men and women went to work in a job dependent, either directly or indirectly, on creative industries like film and television.

Of those 11 million hardworking filmmakers, makeup artists, set designers, caterers, vendors and more, 160,000 are part of Germany’s film and television industry. In total, our sector generates more than 24 billion Euros in economic activity in this country, and contributes 914 billion Euros to the entire European GDP.

This economic impact, coupled with the creative process that brings together different experiences and perspectives, make our industry a force for good the world over.

We must always remember that. We must always be proud of that. And we must carry that message to the halls of power – in Berlin, in Brussels, and in Washington.

We must continue our work together as we tackle such issues as territoriality and advocate for strong copyright provisions in the Digital Single Market.

We must constantly tell policymakers that the decisions they make will affect how we tell stories in Paraguay, Rwanda, Germany, the United States, and across the globe.

We must lift the voices of visionaries like Marcelo Martinessi. We must highlight creators like Samuel Ishimwe. We must celebrate the innovative genius at Studio Babelsberg.

Just as those artists are champions for their craft, we must be champions for them, and indeed storytellers everywhere.

We have a profound opportunity to raise them up….to show the world that creativity is among our most important values…because the power of human connection through film is stronger than ever.

That connection…the humanity we all share when a story inspires us…opens minds and doors for our message.

So I am here today….to tell you…to tell the world…when creativity thrives, economies expand.

When creativity thrives, communities and workers make progress.

When creativity thrives…we make a better world for all of us.

Let’s tell that story. Together.

Thank you.