The current health crisis is challenging the film industry in ways that have never been seen before, and the decision-makers are working hard in order to emerge from it stronger than ever, together. The LUX Award is not oblivious to this, and is quickly adapting to the new reality. After having set up a VoD aggregator to provide information about the availability of the prize-winning films all across Europe (see the news) and having organised a series of talks with film professionals alongside Cineuropa to discuss the situation in the industry (watch here), the award created by the European Parliament 13 years ago has just unveiled its new format at the 77th Venice International Film Festival.
This morning, at the Spazio Incontri of the Hotel Excelsior in Venice, the Chair of the Parliament's Culture and Education Committee, Sabine Verheyen, unveiled the newly branded LUX Award - the European Audience Film Award by the European Parliament and the European Film Academy, a "new, truly pan-European Audience Award" which, from now on, will be presented jointly by both institutions, in partnership with the European Commission and the Europa Cinemas network. The aim of the award remains the same: to shine a spotlight on films that reach the heart of the European public debate, while supporting their circulation by subtitling the movies in all languages of the EU. "It has always been a pioneering and innovative project of the European Parliament in building bridges between sectors that sometimes use different languages," said Verheyen about the award, which, from now on, will be able to reach a broader audience in collaboration with European Film Academy.
The new format will see five films competing for the award, instead of the usual three. However, due to the impact of COVID-19 on the film-industry market, the number of features in the running for the award at this first edition will stand at three, as an exception to the rule. These titles will be selected by a panel of professionals drawn from the European film industry, approved by the Committee on Culture and Education of the European Parliament. Up to now, only Members of the European Parliament were entitled to vote for the winning films, but with the new format, the winner will be selected based on votes from both MEPs and the public (each representing 50%). "We want European citizens to be part of the award," Verheyen stated.
After the presentation of the main features of the award, the new calendar and timeline were also announced. The next stop will be Reykjavik on 12 December, where the three nominated films will be unveiled at the EFAs ceremony. After that, from December to March, the "Watch and Vote" phase will unfold, where audiences across Europe will have the chance to watch the selected films at any available screening (festivals, theatrical release, VoD, etc) and cast their votes online by ranking the films on a scale from one to five. This period will include the LUX Audience Days screenings, organised by the EU institutions and partners, as well as simultaneous screenings and the internal competition inside the European Parliament, where MEPs will also be able to watch the films and vote. Finally, the winner will be announced on 28 April during the awards ceremony in the European Parliament, in the presence of the film crews and the partners of the award.
Verheyen was joined during the presentation by Mike Downey, chairman of the European Film Academy and first honorary president of the selection panel; Claude-Eric Poiroux, general director of Europa Cinemas; LUX coordinator Doris Pack; and with the remote presence of Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth. The President of the European Parliament, David Maria Sassoli, also addressed the audience via video message during the event, which was moderated by Domenico La Porta, editor-in-chief at Cineuropa.