speeches & op-eds

Charles Rivkin Remarks for Berlinale Event with Morrison and Foerster

February 22, 2024

Berlinale, 20 February, 2024

“Next Gen Rising Stars – Developing Skills for Tomorrow”
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by MPA Chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin

Thank you, Christiane, for your kind words. And thank you to our friends at Morrison and Foerster for hosting another important panel with us at Berlinale.

It’s always an honor to return to Berlinale. It’s such an iconic film festival and an incredible celebration of extraordinary filmmaking.

I love how “Berlinale Goes Kiez”  brings the magic of cinema to neighborhood theaters across town.

I love seeing the ubiquitous Berlinale Bear everywhere, in all different colors and sizes. In fact, I’ve built quite a collection of my own little Berlinale bears!

And I especially love that Berlinale continues to support films that are bold and inventive – films that create space for young, talented creators to bring fresh, new ideas to cinema. Promoting the plurality of voices and a more inclusive society has been a crucial part of Berlinale’s legacy since its founding.

Later this week, the Festival will present the esteemed Berlinale Camera to Edgar Reitz, the 91-year-old German filmmaker whose storied career includes such classics as the Heimat film series and his latest work, Filmstunde_23.

But before he became a legend, Edgar was one of the young and up-and-coming German filmmakers looking to revolutionize the industry. And back in 1962, he and 26 others signed the Oberhausen Manifesto – a call to arms for a new film culture.

Their motto: “Papa’s cinema is dead!

These young artists did something profound. They asked … no, they demanded … that the creative community take a hard look in the mirror and reimagine what cinema could be.

These moments – these inflection points – come around in seemingly every generation. With so much change in culture, technology, and more right now, you might say we’re standing another such moment today. Or we could be. Only history will truly be able to tell.

So I’m here to talk about the next Edgar Reitz…about the bright and daring future of filmmaking…about utilizing the foundations of the last generation to fortify the leadership of the next and create a path for today’s young adults to become tomorrow’s biggest storytellers.

Our task is to engage these young minds, to empower and equip them with the tools to believe in themselves, in their ideas, and in their potential.

Our job is to actively recruit and welcome them into the creative community…to open the doors just enough so they can burst through them and not just succeed, but grow a more vibrant industry, economy, culture, and society.

We all need to do our part. We need to think creatively about how to build a truly sustainable and diverse workforce of highly skilled creators. Because that workforce is not assured and, quite frankly, cannot be assumed.

In the UK, for example, a major new study by the Screen Sectors Skills Task Force predicts the creative industries will grow to 50 billion pounds by 2030 – an economic explosion that could force the need for 1 million additional workers.

Fortunately, our industry is working to address that need. We are constantly adapting to rapid advancements in technologies that will become increasingly relevant to our work in the years ahead.

And our MPA member studios are front and center, alongside local partners, in the effort to recruit and train young talent; to ensure the next wave of rising stars reflects the diversity of the world we inhabit; and to amply the voices of populations largely unseen, unheard, and underrepresented for far too long.

Here are some of the ways that’s happening:

Warner Bros. Discovery’s HBO has invested $1 million to launch the Series Mania Institute in France, training young workers looking for jobs in the European TV industry.

Netflix works with local partners to expand talent pools through education and training, teaching storytellers the skills they’ll need for their first, or next, job. This year alone, Netflix is launching more than 100 programs across the EMEA region to support writers, directors, producers, and other creators, and offer a slew of on-the-job training opportunities.

Netflix is also investing $100 million globally over five years through the Netflix Fund for Creative Equity to help identify, train, and provide job placement for young talent from underrepresented communities around the world. To date, Netflix has partnered with over 80 organizations. They’ve established more than 100 programs in 35 countries, and they’ve supported more than 4,500 creatives.

Disney+ in Germany is developing local originals that are changing the game and changing the faces of who produces, creates, and appears in what we see on our screens.

For Sam – Ein Sachse / A Saxon, Disney+ launched apprenticeships and internships to recruit and train cast and crew from the Afro-German and BiPOC communities.

Disney+’s support includes those who lead tentpole productions, such as Deutsches Haus, or The Interpreter of Silence, and the wonderful Katharina Stark – recently awarded with the European Shooting Star – who is with us today.

Sky’s “The Edit” program, run by NBCUniversal and Comcast, helps students from low-income schools across Europe build creative skills. And through Sky TV’s unique digital storytelling challenge, students create a 90-second news report on timely topics. Over 100,000 students have registered to participate since the program launched in 2020.

Back here in Germany, Netflix and Warner Bros. Discovery support the renowned “First Steps Award” by the German Film Academy.

Paramount supports “Serial Eyes,” a postgraduate training program for TV series writers by the German Film and Television Academy Berlin, and I’m thrilled to see the organization’s director, Wolf Plesmann, here today.

To name just one more program from an MPA member studio, Warner Bros. has supported the Hamburg Media School, one of Germany’s most renowned film schools, for many, many years.

On top of all of that, I’m proud that MPA continues to partner with the Entertainment Industry College Outreach Program, or EICOP, on the first-ever Entertainment Law & Policy Fellowship.

This fellowship enables bright young students to participate in the entertainment industry, regardless of their background.

Fellows gain hands-on experience working at the MPA and member studios, and get to interact with senior executives and policymakers. In doing so, they build the skills needed to prepare them to be the next generation of law and policy leaders in the entertainment industry.

This is just a sampling of how we’re strengthening the pipeline of talent here in Europe and beyond. Frankly, I could go on for a while highlighting all the amazing things taking root at the MPA, our member studios, and elsewhere on this front.

But each of these efforts speaks to the truly limitless value of these kinds of initiatives:

How they benefit young people…

How they strengthen studios…

How they can improve the culture on sets…

How they spur better, more diverse, and more dynamic ideas…

How they ultimately fuel local economies, small businesses, good jobs, growing tax revenues, improved infrastructure, and boosted tourism.

Germany is well aware of these benefits, which is motivating them to consider new ways to grow the sector. I hope they succeed. And if they do, and Germany becomes an even larger hub for film and TV production, these training programs will become even more essential.

Getting this right…offering young talent and rising stars, like those here today, the education and support and platforms they need to tell their stories…is an absolute must for our industry and for our future.

Because when more voices, from different backgrounds and places and lived experiences, have a seat at the table…we not only get a better variety of outstanding stories gracing our screens. We get a clearer, more creative, more powerful understanding of our own societies, our own imaginations and realities, our own lives.

That benefit doesn’t come with a dollar figure. It’s an invaluable part of recognizing who we are and who we hope to be – and like Edgar Reitz and the Oberhausen Group before us, the next generation of filmmakers can help us see that.

So let’s continue to empower these young storytellers. Let’s hand them the keys to this incredible industry and watch them lead it into another century of unimaginable creativity.

Thank you. I look forward to an exciting panel discussion. And now, let’s welcome Christiane back to the stage.