Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Turn off the lights

The Daily Telegraph, in the person of its Brussels correspondent, Bruno Waterfield has produced some of the numbers for the cost of the Lux Film Prize here in the Parliament, and thus is able to answer one of the questions I raised here the other day,

A cinema will be built then demolished after just a handful of screenings as part of a film prize scheme to celebrate the European Union which is costing taxpayers £240,000.

All of the European Parliament's 785 Euro-MPs are being asked to take five hours out of their working days to see all three shortlisted films, which cover themes of prostitution, sado-masochism, immigration and abortion.

They will watch the films, which were chosen by a panel of EU experts, in a 90-seat cinema being constructed to order in Brussels at a cost of £70,000 and then vote on their favourite.

The winning film will be translated into all the EU's 23 official languages, at a cost of a further £70,000, and the director will be presented with a trophy modelled on the Biblical Tower of Babel at a ceremony in Strasbourg on Oct 24.

After each film has been screened nine times, the cinema will be knocked down. The parliament's administrative costs for organising the Lux Prize, set up to mark "the moment when the European Union is celebrating its founding texts and is in the process of drafting a new treaty", are estimated at a further £100,000.
My question that follows this article is simple. The Lux prize is supposed to an annual affair. Given that they are knocking down the cinema, will they be building it every year, and thus spending the £70,000 on an annual basis?

And what is it with the EU and the Tower of Babel? If I remember rightly the whole point of the story of the Tower of Babel is that it illustrates the hubris of a mankind that wished to rival God. It seems to me astonishing that the European Parliament spends so much time using the concept as a positive. The Louise Wiess building in Strasbourg, where the MEPs offices are located is designed in reference to Bruegel's masterpiece, the Lux prize and its publicity is similarly attired.

Has nobody amongst them actually read the Bible, or failing that have they just not got the point?

Genesis 11

1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.
2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.
3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.
4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.
6 And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.
8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.
9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

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