Cicero said, “A picture paints a thousand words.” My wife recently watched a film on television in which there was a scene in which a forest was searched for a missing person. For minutes there was no dialog at all. All that was shown, I was told, were people searching and the anxious looks of the father of the missing person, who was part of the search team. Had this film had audio description, I would have been able to follow the scenes exactly. The scenes of the film would probably have required quite a lot of words to give an accurate description.
Yes, blind people enjoy “watching” films too. Unfortunately, only a very small percentage of films is adequately adapted for blind and severely partially sighted people.
Genesis of a new EBU campaign – With all the following considerations in mind, EBU started to look into funding to the film industry, to argue that the EU could use more of its leverage to promote good practices. The idea came from our German member organisation, DBSV, who informed us of the state of play in their country and the room for progress at EU level.
The idea for this EBU campaign has been developed by the German experience. The German Federal Film Board executes the Film Funding Act. A recast of the law in 2013 mandated that the Film Board can only fund accessible films. This has two immediate consequences: film production projects are only eligible for funding, if their detailed project description budgets in an audio description and; film distribution projects are only eligible for funding, if the distributed film includes an audio description. The idea is that the German practice can serve as a best practice model for Creative Europe in the EU to increase the level of accessibility in the cultural sector.
EFAD (European Film Agency Directors association) is the voice of national European Film Agencies, bringing together the national film and audiovisual agencies across Europe. The 35 EFAD members of the Brussels-based association are government or government-associated public bodies, in charge of national funding for the audiovisual sector and with the responsibility to advise or regulate on all aspects of audiovisual policies.
At national level, EFAD members have already integrated the needs of the blind and partially sighted citizens into their schemes.
In May 2018 the European Commission published its proposal for a regulation establishing the successor for 2021-2027 of the current popular Creative Europe programme. In March 2019 the European Parliament adopted its first-reading position. What are the main issues for the European Parliament?
Visually impaired people love the cinema and enjoy it as much as their French fellow citizens! However, audio description, for these people, is an essential parameter for a good understanding of a film. In France, for a long time, audio description only concerned a small percentage of films and the quality was not always good.
Today, we are seeing real progress with a growing number of audio-described films. Blind and partially sighted people have made their voices heard and our associations have worked with public authorities and film professionals to make audio description an essential part of film production and to improve its quality.