More than 150 filmmakers, mostly from Europe, are demanding that movies and other audiovisual media be excluded from negotiations on a free trade agreement between the European Union and the U.S., which was sent to the European Commission on April 22. Treaty talks are scheduled to begin this summer. And filmmakers, including Haneke, Pedro Almodovar, Michel Hazanavicius, as well as David Lynch and Jane Campion are fighting to defend Europe's so-called "cultural exception," which allows restricting the free trade of culture and allows each country to promote its own works.

Yesterday, the Board of the European Film Academy and EFA President Wim Wenders also came out in defense of a petition launched by the French Association of Film Directors and Producers (ARP) to preserve Europe's cultural exception, which argues

that eliminating the cultural exception will "bring European culture to its knees."
"To not respect the cultural exception in the negotiations starting this June would threaten independent cinema and the author’s freedom of expression. It would also result in European films vanishing from cinema screens in Europe and around the world and in irreparable damage to European culture," the EFA said in a statement.

HE CULTURAL EXCEPTION IS NON-NEGOTIABLE!" is the title of the petition, which argues against the "scandalous" decision of the European Commission, under the leadership of Commissionner Karel de Gucht, "to trample on the cultural exception" with "a draft negotiation mandate that includes audiovisual and film services into the EU-US trade discussions to start this summer."

"Let’s be frank: the proposed negotiation mandate is a renunciation. It is a capitulation and a breaking-point," explains the petition.

"In front of the United States where the entertainment industry is the second-largest source of exports," it continues, "the liberalisation of the audiovisual and film sector will lead to the destruction of all of what until now protected, promoted and helped develop European cultures. This policy, together with the granting of excessive fiscal advantages to US digital champions, looks strikingly like a conscious desire to bring European culture to its knees."