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The 25th edition of the Conference, organized by the Conseil international du cinéma, de la télévision et de la communication audiovisuelle, CICT-ICFT at UNESCO, and OCCAM –Observatory on Digital Communication at the UN, was held on September 8, 2023, at Villa degli Autori, Lido di Venezia.
Born at the Biennale Cinema, the Euromediterranean Conference on Cinema has evolved into a prestigious cultural event gathering eminent personalities from all over the world thus fostering projects for Euro-Mediterranean integration and its socio-economic development. Notable accomplishments include the establishment of several film festivals, the creation among others, of COPEAM (TVforum), MCM (Festival network) and OCCAM, the collaboration with UNESCO and the European Commission for new audiovisual programs and the creation of several Awards, such as Prix Lux launched in 2007, or specifically at the Venice Film Festival the CICT-UNESCO “Enrico Fulchignoni” Award.
On the path traced by the previous discussions, this year’s edition addressed the theme "Platforms and AI: The Rise of Global Cinema?" and explored the potential – and related challenges – of AI tools and platforms in shaping the cinematic landscape – and others – while ensuring that human creativity and expertise remain at the core of the filmmaking industry and creators, to enrich cultural diversity and exchange cultural expressions. In particular, statements from Assistant Director General of UNESCO Culture Sector, Ernesto Ottone R., Francesco Rutelli, President of ANICA, Vittorio Sgarbi, Undersecretary at the Italian Ministry of Culture, and Luciana Castellina, former member of the European Parliament, the 25th Euromediterranean Conference on Cinema reaffirmed the institutional efforts and commitment to enabling cinema as a powerful medium to make it again a common cultural asset empowered by the new existing platforms and Artificial Intelligence, embedding a necessary compromise that allows all the different emerging cultures to proudly exhibit themselves. Members of the European Parliament, Daniela Rondinelli, Gianantonio Da Re and Niccolò Rinaldi, presented the legislative efforts that the European Union and Parliament are employing to regulate the ongoing transitions, recognizing the benefits but also the difficulties and limitations that the Digital imposes, with special attention dedicated to workers in the film sector as well as its public. Secretary-General of EUROVISIONI, Giacomo Mazzone, addressed the potential and eventual fallouts of emerging platforms and AI on the entire film supply chain, accentuating further the imminence of some issues and prospects. Elisabetta Noli, Administrative Director of the Global Campus of Human Rights, stressed the importance of education and the need for protocols that can bring technological innovations within the reach of all, with the assurance that these respect and promote human rights. The latter was the focus of the speech by Jasmina Bojic, Founder and President of the UNAFF Travelling Film Festival, along with a focus on ethics, a much-needed component in all fields of operation.
Answering the questions posed by Serge Michel, UNICA Vice President, could shed light on important instances of the limitations of AI, but also highlight possible opportunities for industry and non-industry professionals, as suggested by Ruggero Gabbai, Director and CEO of Forma International and Alessandro Mandelli, Founder of Serially. Finally, the contributions by Salmane Tariq El Allami, Professor at Mohammed V University and Founder of ISCA Film School, Ahmet Boyacioglu, Director of Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival, and Rizwan Ahamd, Director of MANUU, highlighted the importance of creativity and the affirmation of local and regional products, which digitalization in cinema can boost rather than hinder. The 25th edition of the Conference concluded with the announcement of the winner of the 35th CICT UNESCO "Enrico Fulchignoni" Award, included among the Collateral Awards of the Biennale, to the movie "Io Capitano" by Matteo Garrone with the conferral of the UNESCO Fellini Medal to Delegate Nicola Claudio, President and Director of Rai Cinema (read the press release here).
Gathering all the suggestions and insights that emerged from the participants, as a historical forum, the 25th Euromediterranean Conference on Cinema is committed to drafting the Final Declaration to be submitted to UNESCO for the records and operating as a reference point for a controversial and complicated topic that necessarily requires a reflection and dialogue at the highest institutional, political and social levels with the involvement of experts and professionals from the film, artistic and cultural fields as well as Civil Society given operative synergies in all sectors.