The annual event was attended by Audiovisual Screenwriters and Directors representing the five continental alliances which are part of the International Confederation
Last Wednesday June 9, the Audiovisual Authors International Confederation – AVACI – carried out its Annual Congress, a meeting which gathered Directors and Screenwriters from all over the world and was conducted through the Zoom platform.
It is important to highlight that this is the first time a Congress of Audiovisual Authors is performed with simultaneous translation into six languages (Spanish, English, French, Portuguese, Korean and Russian), which enabled the event to be followed without problems, breaking the language and social distance barriers, which prevented this meeting to be carried out on-site due to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic.
Representatives from the five continental alliances which are part of the AVACI were present: FESAAL (Latin American Audiovisual Authors Societies Federation), APASER (Pan-African Alliance of Screenwriters and Directors), as well as representatives from the Asia-Pacific, Eurasia and Europe alliances, and numerous Audiovisual Authors from several countries.
The introduction of the event was in charge of Horacio Maldonado (Audiovisual Director and Screenwriter – Secretary General of FESAAL, Argentina), in which the appointment of the Founding Executive Council of AVACI and of the Legal and Technical Committee was made. “This is a historical day which gathers Audiovisual Authors for the first time at their own International Confederation”.
On the first panel of the Congress, Gilles Cayatte (Audiovisual Director and member of LA SCAM - France), who also acted as moderator of the meeting, mentioned that “It is crucial that all Authors, belonging to associations or not, join AVACI”.
“We still have a lot of work to do in Europe for other associations to be able to join AVACI”; “We loved the idea that authors from all the countries may join to have our voices heard louder than before. For such reason, we joined AVACI and we would like other author societies to join us”; “Technological changes are not always easy for audiovisual authors, however, technology is the future and it is increasingly present in the development of our work”.
Danilo Serbedzija, Audiovisual Director and member of DHFR (Croatian Film Directors Guild - Croatia), expressed: “I think we are in the right direction and that more organizations will join this confederation. People are always afraid of new things. We are nobody’s enemy, we can work together because we have the same goals”, he also mentioned the concern on the current situation of his country concerning audiovisual rights, due to a legislative proposal in force which grants protection to big on demand platforms, at the expense of the rights to remuneration of Authors.
The Congress was attended by Geidy Lung, Senior Counselor of the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization - www.wipo.int), a United Nations agency based in Geneva. “We are here at the WIPO to support you on your work”, expressed to attendants before making a series of proposals, including, among others, the updating of the right of the author in the digital environment. In addition, she proposed operational strategies on collective bargaining to solve emerging conflicts in the short and medium terms. Lung called for the collective organization and offered legal counsel and support from the WIPO infrastructure. “We hope that Audiovisual Authors are able to consolidate their goals for the future”.
On her part, Janine Lorente, an authors’ rights professional internationally recognized for her defense of Audiovisual Authors, and International Counselor of AVACI, reviewed recent events in Europe regarding broadcasting rights and the current bids with big platforms due to the lack of a legal framework. “In European countries with high audiovisual production, it was common for an author to assign his/her rights throughout the world for a fixed amount”, she explained. “You envisaged it was time to harmonize a minimum of legitimate rights for Screenwriters and Directors when this became globalized”, she told the attendant of the Congress. “We will try to monitor contracts. We have to help Directors and Screenwriters, who are alone and do not have the means to say no”, Lorente proposed. Before closing, she mentioned the cases from Spain, Argentina, Colombia, Chile and Uruguay as “examples of how a bill can be drafted to achieve the right to remuneration for audiovisual authors”.
Representing the Eurasia Alliance, Alexey Aleshkovsky (Screenwriter and Vice-President of the Screenwriters Union of Russia) and Huseyn Mehdiyev (Audiovisual Director - President of AzDG - Azerbaijan), highlighted it was an important and historic encounter and briefly explained the situation of their respective countries: “Russia has a very bureaucratic administration and the amendments of laws are having many problems. There is a passive resistance. The main purpose is to create this organization and seek support in order to make progress in Parliament with this legislative proposal”.
On his part, Miguel Ángel Diani (Audiovisual Playwright and Screenwriter, President of ARGENTORES, Argentina), contributed, from his personal experience, to the debate in favor of the struggle regarding authors’ rights: “It was a journey which led us to the creation of AVACI and being sitting here today. The struggle of the author is forever. It is important, and it is also the obligation of executives from management societies, to train future managers for our societies”.
Silvio Caiozzi (Audiovisual Director and Screenwriter, President of ATN - Chile), reminded the enactment achieved by the unanimous vote at the National Congress of the Ricardo Larraín Act, named after the Chilean Director and Screenwriter, who passed away in 2016. “I never imagined I would witness the creation of this huge Confederation and that I would be part of a worldwide meeting like this one”.
Laza Razanajatovo, President of APASER (Pan-African Alliance of Screenwriters and Directors - www.apaser.org) and native of Madagascar, noted the lack of a legislative framework which benefits the rights of Audiovisual Authors within his continent. “I am happy and proud of being part of this we are creating together”, said as introduction. “It is a long way for us, therefore, I believe AVACI is very good news for Africa”. In addition, he mentioned that “the AVSYS operating system is the answer to our problems, mainly, in our seek to respond to the needs of our directors and screenwriters”.
Sergio Rentero, CEO of Gotika Labs, talked about the “Restoration Plan”, a project for the digital preservation of Argentine Films, and about the future of audiovisual authors on a paradigm where artificial intelligence is incorporated as a tool for the development of stories for such creators: “The current methods were not enough to save films, which led us to explore artificial intelligence to be able to reshape works that deserve to be seen as the author envisaged them. Along that way, we started to imagine a future where paradigms on how to create a work and on which will be the place of the audiovisual author, will change.
For Asia Pacific, Yoon Jung Lee, representative of DGK - South Korea, highlighted the importance to make alliances with influential and highly appreciated audiovisual directors and screenwriters, who have great impact on news, in order to move forward in the struggle for the recognition of audiovisual authors’ rights in our countries. It is also necessary that large societies recommend those authors to become part of their local societies in order to strengthen them”.
Anjum Rajabali, Screenwriter and President of SRAI – Screenwriters from India, asserted that the initiative of an International Confederation of Audiovisual Authors “is an idea to definitely go into the future”. “We need to make sure that, upon the existence of so many film industries in different fragility situations, we can encourage them to join us, that is to say, have a more comprehensive configuration so that it may become something global where we can all support each other”.
The closing of the Congress consisted in a table which treated, for the first time at the international level, the rights of audiovisual screenwriters and directors when they are contracted and work for projects produced and intended, mainly, to their release, exhibition and commercializatioh through the OTT platforms.
Hrvoje Hribar, member of DHFR, Croatia, and of the board of FERA (Federation of European Screen Directors - https://screendirectors.eu/), emphasized on the need to make international alliances to survive on the current scene: “There is a huge influence from the new players, the streamers, they are going to change the game rules. It is necessary to look after the creative environment of the director within those set of rules which will derive from the capitalism of streamers. These new giants, this model of show-runner is a bit different, it is not American, it is different and we must know how to act in this new paradigm”.
In addition, Daniella Castagno (Screenwriter and Vice-President of ATN – Chile), offered an audiovisual professional overview of her country and remarked the gender differences currently ongoing. “The differences in salaries between men and women in Chile are an issue to be treated urgently”. She concluded ensuring that “Today, through AVACI, we have the possibility to tell the most important history: the history of the recognition of our rights”.
On his part, Martín Sabán (Audiovisual Director - Disney International, Argentina), talked about how to improve the conditions of Authors upon the requirements of production companies and how to enforce the right of control over their own works. He emphasized that Audiovisual Authors “have greater challenges and we want that to benefit the industry, generating higher quality in the works we are involved in and generating the best results. In essence, what we are doing is to find the way to raise the bar towards the new audiovisual shape we have today, which is increasingly approaching”.
With a record of audiovisual authors attending the online congress, it has been announced that, if the pandemic situation so allows, the next congress will be held in 2022 on site in the City of Seoul, South Korea, to provide Korean authors all the global support from their colleagues in order to urge local authorities to set forth the full recognition of the author’s right for every director and screenwriter from South Korea.