Remarks to the EU-Jordan Film festival (07/10/2012)

José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Remarks to the EU-Jordan Film festival

24th EU Film Festival – Closing ceremony

Amann, 7 October 2012

 

Your Royal Highness,

Excellencies,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

I am both delighted and honoured to be with you today for the closing ceremony of the 24th EU Film Festival held under the patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Reem Ali.

I want to thank the Jordanian Royal Film Commission and the EU Delegation in Jordan for the superb organization of this year's film festival and for having chosen to address the theme of "transitions", which is a very fascinating one.

The great Mexican writer, Nobel Prize laureate and diplomat, Octavio Paz has written that "any culture is born in mixing, in interaction, in confrontation. Conversely it is in isolation that civilization dies."

This is why cultural manifestations, such as this Festival, which enable these direct exchanges and a direct dialogue between different ways of looking at the reality, are so important.

Culture is about the meanings we ascribe to the world. And each culture describes the world in a different way. Thus it is vital to find ways to engage with each other and to learn from each other.

And this is important because, in the end, truth, similarly to beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. This is why it is so crucial to put oneself in another's place to better understand each other.

This is precisely what art and artists, and in particular cinema, enables us: to see the world through different lens.

And this Film Festival fully accomplishes this objective by bringing together films from almost every corner of Europe to be exhibited in Jordan and at the same time by allowing Jordanian young people and creators to produce their own films and let them be screened for a larger audience.

Yes, it is vital to set up more common cultural projects that contribute to increase mutual understanding and explore the many benefits of cultural diversity.

This is even more important in a globalized world that has increased our exposure to more diverse cultures. Intercultural exchanges help us to adapt to this increasingly mixed and complex world: a world, which is also a fast-changing one.

We live indeed in a world in permanent transition. Not only personal transitions throughout our own lives, but also societal transitions. Transition from diverse historical legacies to new emerging realities; transition from outdated ways of communicating to new technological tools, transition from old certainties to deep economic and social transformations.

The way we manage these transitions will be crucial for world peace and prosperity. As the great musician and conductor Gustav Mahler once said: "The real art of conducting consists in transitions." So is life.

And this is not only about charting the path that the next generations will walk tomorrow. This is not only about political and economic reforms that will improve the life of citizens by turning today's challenges into tomorrow's opportunities.

It is also about the day-to-day fears and hopes of the peoples. It is about the interaction between each individual and transition processes and what does that mean for our societies at large.

In cinema you speak of a transition focus when the current scene goes out of focus and the next one comes into focus.

If we do not want to be lost in transition, we need all our intelligence and creativity, all our generosity and talent to bring people closer together so that we can collectively enter smoothly into the next focus.

Ladies and gentlemen,
A world where information and ideas, pictures and videos flow at the speed of a mouse click or a mobile phone is a world of great opportunities and great challenges.

It is a world where freedom of expression is greatly expanded and it becomes more and more difficult to suppress it. And this is very good news.

We need new ideas - and more and broader exchanges of ideas - to move us in the right direction and fulfil the promise of a better future.

We have to keep on asking. We have to keep on telling. We have to keep on showing. This contributes to advancing human dignity, freedom and prosperity.

But it is also a world where mutual understanding, respect for core values might come under severe strain. And this is worrying news.

The right of people to live according to their cultural identity and to their beliefs is a fundamental human right and a vital component of any stable and vibrant society.

Let's be clear more freedom of expression, thanks notably to new technological tools, has to go hand in hand with a greater sense of responsibility and mutual respect.

This is how new technologies will help to harness for the better the talents and creativity of the peoples.

And I really welcome this year's initiative to invite young Jordanian filmmakers to show their visions of "transitions" as captured on their mobile phones.

Using this new modern film medium of mobile phone is a very creative and thought-provoking way to show what had remained unnoticed for most of us and let us hear the voices that were unheard.

This is why I want to warmly congratulate once again our Delegation and the Royal Film Commission, in the person of his Royal Highness, for this great initiative. But most of all I want to congratulate all those who have participated in this competition of best mobile phone films.

Because ultimately it is by sharing amongst each other our vision, our talent and our ideas that we enlarge our view of the world and we increase the knowledge about ourselves.

I thank you for your attention.