The history of FERA
At the beginning of 1979 at “Les Rencontres de Saint Etienne”, when the idea emerged to establish a European federation of film directors, small, ironic smiles were observed. At that time, a climate of trade-union tension prevailed in Europe, and this European project seemed, at best, a remote dream.
During the summer of the same year and following joint requests by the SRF (Société des réalisateurs de films/ Society of French Film Directors) and ANAC (Associazione Nazionale Autori Cinematografici – Italy), directors attempted to organise a conference in Venice for an exchange of views on the subject. That proved impossible because they did not have the necessary economic resources – nevertheless, this contact led to the “Les rencontres de St Etienne” in January 1980.
There was an apparent need to link efforts in joint action, even if it still remained rather vague. There were representatives from many countries: West Germany, Belgium, Greece, Great Britain, Hungary, France, Spain and Italy.
The same year (1980), after many phone communications and several urgent letters, they met again in Venice in the strange cellar of the Bauer Hotel with its splendid dining room on the Grand Canal. It is there that the name of FERA was created along with a written agreement that would later become the organization’s bylaws.
Thus, FERA was born and began to work in the defence of creativity and freedom of expression.
Peter Fleischman, Jordi Grau, Harry Kümel, Marcel Ophuls, Francesco Maselli were most active at that time, but also Bertrand Win Effenterre, András Kovács, Thanassis Rentzis, Joao Correa, Wim Verstappen, Joseph Losey, Volker Schlondörff, Joris Ivens, Miclós Jancsó, Theo Angelopoulos, Ettore Scola, Henning Carlsen, Luigi Comencini, Francesco Rosi, and Michelangelo Antonioni.
And since these humble beginnings at Saint Etienne, European directors have organised conferences in Rome, Paris, Athens, Bastia, Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Budapest, Gdynia, Munich, Madrid, Strasbourg, Locarno, Sesimbra, Lille, San Sebastian, Sitges, Madeira, Barcelona, Haugesund, Dijon, Graz, Dublin.
Or, in a word, Europe.
An outline of FERA’s achievements
Over the course of nearly 30 years, FERA has made important contributions to European cultural policy – most notably, the adoption of the Television Without Frontiers Directive in 1989, which established the quotas of European works on TV, the establishment of the first MEDIA programme in 1991, and its successors in 1996, 2001 and 2007 with more and more funds over the years.
With members from Central and Eastern European socialist countries since its foundation, FERA has long been attentive to the protection of freedom of expression in the cinematographic art and, in particular, the moral rights of directors in these countries. After the fall of the Iron Curtain, FERA supported Central and Eastern countries in securing rights for their creators through the promulgation of film laws and authors’ rights laws.
At the international level, FERA was very active in defending the European cultural exception in the GATT talks in 1993 in order to exclude the European audiovisual sector from trade negotiations. FERA pushed for a separate international instrument on cultural diversity, which would protect cultural policies all over the world. This was achieved in 2005 with the UNESCO convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expression.
In recent years, FERA has fought for the revision of the Television without Frontiers Directive in order to adapt the legislation to the emergence of online audiovisual media services and to include the promotion of European works in their objectives. FERA published guidelines for the implementation of the new Audiovisual Media Services Directive, adopted in 2007.
Former Presidents of FERA
Liv Ullmann was the President of FERA from September 2003 to June 2008.
Liv Ullmann made her theatre debut in Norway in the leading role of Anne Frank in 1957 and her first film in 1958. She started working with Ingmar Bergman in 1965 (Persona) and made nine other films with him until Saraband in 2003. She was nominated for Oscar for The Emigrants (Jan Troell) and Face to Face (Ingmar Bergman) and won several Golden Globes. Liv Ullmann made films as an actress in Scandinavia, England, USA, Australia, Argentina and played in theatres in Scandinavia, West End of London, Australia and five times on Broadway. She wrote an autobiography (Changing) and a novel (Tide) translated in several languages and wrote and adapted six screenplays. She directed two short films in the collective films Love (segment Parting) in 1982 and Lumière and Company in 1996 and directed four features films: Sofie in 1992 (Special Grand Prize of the Jury of the Montréal Film festival), Kristin Lavransdatter in 1995, Private Confessions (Enskilda samtal) in 1996 and Faithless (Trolösa) in 2000 which was selected at the Cannes Film Festival. In 2001, she was the President of the 54th Cannes Film Festival Jury.
Manuel GUTIERREZ ARAGON
Juan Antonio BARDEM