Speech of Ambassador Jean-Pierre Reymondet-Commoy, Head of the Delegation of the European Union in Sierra Leone, on the occasion of the Opening of the European Film Festival in Freetown 7 May 2012 (16/07/2012)

Dear Ministers, diplomats, representatives of the political, cultural world and of the media,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear friends, dear colleagues,

I would like to welcome you to the second edition of the European Film Festival in Sierra Leone  co-organised by the British high Commission, the German Embassy, the Irish Embassy, the French Embassy as well as the Delegation of the European Union in Freetown. .

The European film festival was established only last year on the occasion of Sierra Leone 50th Independance Anniversary and as a contributionto strengthening the cultural dimension of the close partnership between the  European Union and Sierra Leone. 
The European Film Festival is also for us a symbolic way to mark Europe's  Day here, with Sierra Leone. 

Indeed,  this week on the 9th of May  will be the 62nd Anniversary of the declaration of  Robert Schuman  proposing new relations between countries, which during centuries had almost destroyed each other in dreadful conflicts - a Union of Sovereign States, that would replace the apparent fatality of war by the logic of cooperation, integration and solidarity. While reconciliation was a brave thing to imagine at that time, only 5 years after the end of the most dreadful conflict in Europe, this marked  the first move towards a united Europe, now bringing together, around our common values,  more than 500 million people from 27 countries.  

 European cinema has always been an important medium in promoting these common values notably  in  fighting against prejudice, intolerance and discrimination,  in provoking individual and collective aspirations for more freedom and emancipation  - and in  uniting people of all origin,  creed and  beliefs   while celebrating their diversity. 

There is more, therefore, to the European Film Festival than just entertainment.

But I trust there will be also this year  again  entertainment and pleasure. This week, we will show a selection of 10 movies presenting a mosaique of European cinema, its diversity and originality. The main festival programme will start tomorrow, and films will be shown for public till Saturday 12 May at the British Council.

A special movie programme for children, will also be shown on Saturday 12th May. We hope that this initiative for children will be replicated in the framework of the European Film Week for the coming years, and will be extended to more than one day only! An that more children of Sierra Leone can have access  including through their schools.


I would like to take this opportunity to draw the attention of guest close to the cultural world  here tonight - and I know many of you are, in different ways – I would like to draw your attention to EU support available to  enable film makers from Africa to create, disseminate and commercialise their own productions more effectively.  African movies are increasingly meeting international success, with awards for example in the Festival de Cannes for "A crying man" by Mohammet Saleh Haroun, which the European Union is  proud to have supported like we did for  many important and other less visible creations from the Continent. . African artists film makers have much to contribute for the cultural diversity of our globalised world. I hope  Sierra Leone filmmakers and cultural actors can  also exploit this opportunity and help promoting internationally the  cultural identity of Sierra Leone. 

Tonight, we will open the film week with a movie  from the current EU Council Presidency, Denmark. "A family", directed by Pernille Fischer Christensen, who won awards notably at  Los Angeles and Berlin Film Festivals.  I am told it is the story of a young woman who has to decide between pursuing her own dreams, or continuing the legacy of her family – which  looks like an all too familiar and universal torment.

I can only wish that many citizens and visitors of  Freetown  will come to enjoy this film festival. I thank you for spreading the word around you so that as many as possible can have access and enjoy. 

Thank you also to the organizers, and to our host the British Council for its generous hospitality all this week.
I thank you for your attention.

Enjoy your evening.