BIFF2018

 FA online

Slovenia’s Ministry of Culture says it is striving to mend divisions over the Slovenian Film Fund, which has been mired in controversy for months leading to the resignation or dismissal of three subsequent directors.

Children of Glory, directed by Kristina Goda, has opened the Bangkok International Film Festival (www.bangkokfilm.org). The 2006 film saw 425,489 admissions in its native country of Hungary.

The 22nd James Bond movie, which is currently untitled, will not be filmed in the Czech Republic like its predecessor. The 2006 Casino Royale was filmed at Barrandov Studios (www.barrandov.com) and on location in Prague.

Directions by Stephan KomandarevMARKET ANALYSIS 2017

The year 2017 started with the appointment of a caretaker government by the Bulgarian president, General Rumen Radev, designated to act in a limited time. Centre-right GERB party won the parliamentary elections and in May 2017 Boyko Borisov became Prime Minister for the third time since 2009.

On 31 December 2017 European Commission’s monitoring of the aid scheme approved until 31 December 2017 expired. In order to bring the state film aid scheme in line with the European Commission Communication on State Aid for Films and Other Audiovisual Works (2013/C 332/01), Bulgaria’s Council of Ministers adopted a draft of an amended Film Industry Act. As the changes were not officially adopted before the start of 2018, state subsidies for film will be allotted only after the completion of all legal procedures.

In September 2017 Konstantin Kamenarov took over the position of Director General of the Bulgarian National Television from Vyara Ankova, who headed the public broadcaster since 2010.Three Quarters by Ilian Metev

Two months later actress/producer Jana Karaivanova was appointed as Executive Director of the Bulgarian National Film Center. Kamen Balkanski, who had been running the national institution during the last two years, became Deputy Director.

The year 2017 was also marked by the most spectacular return of the audience's interest in national cinema since 2010. One after another, several new Bulgarian feature films became box office hits throughout the year. The highest grossing title turned out to be Victor Bojinov’s historical drama Heights (coproduced by Bulgaria’s Bulfilm and Macedonia’s Dream Factory). Admissions to domestic films almost tripled in Bulgaria from 176,395 in 2016 to 512,521 in 2017, while domestic films cashed in over 2 m EUR in 2017 compared to 612,000 EUR in 2016.

Total admissions increased by 2.49 percent and total box office by 5.7 percent compared to 2016.

In 2017 Stefan Komandarev’s Directions, coproduced by Bulgaria’s Argo Film, Germany’s Aktis Film Production and Macedonia’s Sector Film, was applauded in Cannes in the Un Certain Regard official competition. Ilian Metev’s feature debut 3/4 (Three Quarters), coproduced by Bulgaria’s Chaconna Films and Germany’s Sutor Kolonko, grabbed the Golden Leopard in the Cineasti Del Presente international competition of the 70th Locarno Film Festival. Ralitza Petrova’s Godless (coproduced by Bulgaria’s Klas Film, Denmark’s’ Snow Globe and France’s Alcatraz Films and Film Factory) was nominated for the European Film Academy’s European Discovery 2017 – Prix FIPRESCI. Tonislav Hristov’s Finnish/German/Bulgarian long documentary The Good Postman won the European Film Academy’s Documentary Award – Prix Arte.

Voevoda by Zornitsa SophiaPRODUCTION

Twenty one feature films were produced in 2017, of which 16 were supported by the Bulgarian National Film Center. Five of the supported films were made with minority financial participation from other countries. There were six debut films (five supported and one privately financed) and three low budget films. The Bulgarian National Television coproduced three feature films. Bulgaria also took part as a minor coproducer in six other feature film coproductions and in two short film productions.

A total of 39 short films were made in 2017, of which six were supported by the Bulgarian National Film Center.

Some domestic feature films were shot in the country, but also abroad.

12A by Magdalena RalchevaIn the spring of 2017 Milko Lazarov completed the shooting of his sophomore film Aga aka Nanook in the Sakha (Yakutia) Republic within the Russian Federation. The aesthetically ambitious film is coproduced by Bulgaria’s Red Carpet, Germany’s 42Film and France’s Arizona Films. The Bulgarian National Television and ZDF/Arte are also involved in the production.

Victor Chouchkov began shooting his international project 18% Gray, based on Zachary Karabashliev’s bestseller. Shooting will continue in the UK, Belgium and Germany in 2018. The film is a coproduction between Bulgaria’s Chouchkov Brothers, Germany’s Ostlicht Filmproduktion and Serbia’s Cinnamon Films. The Bulgarian National Television is the national coproducer.

Kostadin Bonev, whose The Sinking of Sozopol (Borough Film) was awarded at numerous international film festivals, wrapped the shooting of his fourth feature film The Wolves Come Out, produced through his company Trivium Films. The cultural club of the town of Yambol became the main location for a story taking place in a small provincial theatre.

Irena Ivanova in Godless by Ralitza PetrovaKnown for her internationally acclaimed 2006 Monkeys in Winter (Proventus Film House Bulgaria and Tatfilm Germany), Milena Andonova partially shot her sophomore film The Shepherd in 2017. The period drama is about St. Ivan Rilski, the patron saint of the Bulgarian people. Proventus Film House is producing in cooperation with the BNT.

Nadejda Koseva, who became famous for her critically acclaimed short film Omlette, completed the two-step shooting of her debut feature The Deal. Focusing on surrogate motherhood, the low budget film is produced by Art Fest.

Martin Makariev’s Attraction, coproduced by Indifilm, Spirit Production and Nova Broadcasting Group, and Niki Iliev’s Knock out or All She Wrote, coproduced by Euro Dialog Productions and Nu Boyana, were the main privately financed films shot in 2017. The first one relies on the attractiveness and choreographic abilities of the actress Yana Marinova, the second on the American actor Gary Dourdan’s participation in a story partially shot in New York.

Youlia Kantcheva’s In the Mirror, Maria Averina’s From Cremona to Cremona, Tzvetan Dragnev’s Village People, Kostadin Bonev’s Uprooting, Adela Peeva’s Long Live Bulgaria, were among the most acclaimed documentaries in 2017. Animation also showed good health with films like Travelling Country by Vessela Dantcheva and Ivan Bogdanov, Restart by Gospodin Nedelchev, 20 Kicks by Dilyan Elenkov, No Way by Ivan Stoyanovich, and others.Alexander Aleksiev and Stoyan Doichev in Heights by Victor Bojinov

Bulgaria’s leading film production studios, Nu Boyana Film Studios serviced or got involved in the production of 18 films. Four of them were American productions and four were non-American films with partial American funding. The company also serviced four European and six Bulgarian coproductions. Neil Marshal’s Hellboy (Millennium Films) starring Milla Jovovich, David Harbour, Ian McShane and Sasha Lane; Ariel Vromen’s The Angel (Netflix) starring Marwan Kenzari and Toby Kebbell, and Eric Bress’s Ghosts of War (Miscellaneous Entertainment) starring Brenton Thwaites, became the new ‘business cards’ of the company.

DISTRIBUTION

According to the NFC, a total of 291 films (including re-releases and holdovers) were theatrically released in 2017: 126 from the US, 116 European films, 28 domestic and 21 films from other countries. Total admissions were 5,566, 585, of which American films had 4,585,414 admissions, European films 432,890 admissions and domestic films had 512,521 admissions.

Godless by Ralitza PetrovaForum Film Bulgaria and Alexandra Group remained the country’s leading distributors, like in the previous years. In 2017 they had seven and two American titles in the top ten, respectively.

Thanks to an exceptional advertising campaign lasting for more than a year, the distributor A+Films made a huge breakthrough with Victor Bojinov’s historical drama Heights (coproduced by Bulgaria’s Bulfilm and Macedonia’s Dream Factory). In only two months the title broke into the domestic top ten.

Also due to the long term marketing campaign Nova Helps Bulgarian Films, the distribution branch of the private TV channel Nova TV, Lenta, successfully released several Bulgarian titles and actively contributed to the nearly threefold increase of the national share.  

By the very end of 2017 the Bulgarian National Center gave a green light to the 23rd edition of the country’s main non-feature film national festival Golden Rhyton, cancelled in 2016. Over 90 documentaries and animated films displayed the crop of two years, of which 63 participated in the documentary and animated films’ competitions. The jury decided to encourage a bigger number of filmmakers by doubling the honors. As a result, more films were awarded, part of them ex-aequo. Among them were Tonislav Hristov’s The Good Postman (coproduced by Finland’s Making Movies OY, Germany’s Еlemag Pictures and Bulgaria’s Soul Food), awarded best documentary, Anri Koulev’s All So Much Hogwash, awarded best animated film, and Catherine Bernstein’s and Assen Vladimirov’s The Bookseller (coproduced by Bulgaria’s Pro Film and France’s Les Films de l’Aqueduc) and Nikolay Todorov’s 72 minutes animated political satire Made in Brachycera (produced by ET Club No Nikolay Todorov), both winning the ex-aequo Special Jury Award. 

Sex Academy, Men by Georgi KostovEXHIBITION AND BOX OFFICE

In 2017, the number of officially registered screens was 216. Practically all screens in the country are digitalised.

Total admissions increased by 2.49 percent and total box office by 5.7 percent. In 2017 total admissions were 5,566,585 and total box office was 25.9 m EUR, compared to 5,431 028 admissions and 24.5 m EUR total gross in 2016.

With 28 Bulgarian films (including re-releases and holdovers) the number of films released significantly increased in comparison with the two previous years, when it was 16 and 17 respectively.

Admissions to domestic films almost tripled from 176,395 in 2016 to 512,521 in 2017, while the domestic films cashed in over 2 m EUR in 2017 compared to 612,000 EUR in 2016.

Broken Road by Katerina Goranova and Asen BlatechkyThe encouraging results were due mostly to Victor Bojinov’s Heights, which ranked first with 130,470 admissions and 546,160 EUR gross. Katerina Goranova’s and Asen Blatechky’s spectacular action debut Broken Road (Cinequanone) came second with 98,822 admissions and 406,331 EUR gross, followed by Zornitsa Sophia's Voevoda  (MQ Pictures Ltd ) with 87,604 admissions and 345,761 EUR gross. The last two films were distributed by Lenta.

Magdalena Ralcheva’s relatively small and privately financed teenage comedy 12A, produced by 12А Ltd and released by A+Films, surprisingly ranked fourth with 57,593 admissions and 226,736 EUR gross. Ilian Djevelekov’s Omnipresent (Miramar Film), which won the main award at the 35th Golden Rose NFF, came fifth with 45,782 admissions and 195,188 EUR gross.

After Omnipresent, Lenta also released Stanislav Todorov–Rogi’s debut feature Bubblegum (Dynamic Arts), which attracted 44,773 viewers and had 190,760 EUR gross.

Omnipresent by Ilian DjevelekovThree other privately financed films ranked seventh, eighth and ninth: Georgi Kostov’s Sex Academy – Men, produced and released by Media Production with 10,038 admissions and 38,754 EUR gross; Todor Anastasov’s Damascena, produced and released by Damascena Film Company, with 8,655 admissions and 31,101 EUR gross, and Andrey Andonov’s NoOne (Egregore Films), released by A+Films, with 4,391 admissions and 15,538 EUR gross. The 10th place was taken by Radoslav Spassov’s The Singing Shoes with 4,004 admissions and 13,812 EUR gross.

GRANTS AND NEW LEGISLATION

In 2017, the Bulgarian National Film Center provided the main funding for film production and the Bulgarian National Television contributed with pre-sales to the budget of some national films, already supported by the NFC.

The Singing Shoes by Radoslav SpassovIn 2017, the National Palace of Culture, which registered in 2015 at the NFC as a film production company, continued to support selected Bulgarian films by offering for free Hall 1 to Galin Stoev’s debut feature The Infinite Garden. The film opened the 31st edition of the Cinemania Film Panorama.

In accordance with the Film Industry Act adopted in 2003, Bulgaria’s main institution’s annual support is calculated based on the total average budget of seven feature films, 14 long documentaries and 160 minutes of animated films.

Similarly to the two previous years, in 2017 the NFC’s annual state support for film was 7,370,272 EUR, while the amount for production, distribution and exhibition was nearly 7 m EUR.

As no legal changes were made, the two-tier system was kept in 2017: a project can receive the approval of the NFC expert selection committee, but the NFC funding becomes usable only when the producer of the film has 100% of the budget in place.

Based on this rule, in 2017 the NFC approved financial support for 11 feature films, six with budgets over 300,000 EUR, three with budgets below 300,000 EUR, two debut features and seven short films. Eleven projects received development support.

The Infinite Garden by Galin Stoev, Credit: AgitpropNine films were approved in the documentary section, two of which were debuts. Seven projects were selected for development support. In the animated films section seven films of up to 24 minutes and two films of up to 60 minutes were approved for support.

The Film Industry Act also requires that up to 20% from the NFC’s annual budget is allotted to Bulgarian minority coproductions. In 2017 seven coproductions were approved for financial support: four feature films, two documentaries and one animated film.

Over 240,000 EUR were allotted for domestic distribution of Bulgarian and European films in 2017, and nearly 200,000 EUR were dedicated to the support of local film festivals and international promotion of Bulgarian cinema.

TV

Bulgarian National Television is still the only TV channel obliged by the law to support independent producers with 10% of its total budget. In 2017 the annual amount did not differ a lot from the usual one, around 3 m EUR.

No One by Andrey AndonovOn the other hand, the activity in the private audiovisual sector increased.

The private TV channel bTV backed the shooting of 170 episodes of Dear Heirs, taking place in an artificially built village. Some of them were directed by Todor Chapkanov and Niki Iliev. The broadcast of the series started on 15 January 2018.

In cooperation with Global Films, the other main private TV channel Nova TV backed the shooting of Policemen from the End of Town, the first Bulgarian police comedy based on the Spanish hit series Los hombres de Paco. Nova TV also backed the detective series The Devil's Throat (in cooperation with Dream Team Films). The first six episodes were entirely shot in the picturesque surroundings of the town of Smolyan.

 

CONTACTS:

BULGARIAN NATIONAL FILM CENTER
Executive Director: Jana Karaivanova
2 A, Dondukov Blvd., 7th floor
1000 Sofia, Bulgaria
Phone: + 359 2 9150 811
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.nfc.bg

UNION OF BULGARIAN FILMMAKERS
Chairman: Ivan Pavlov
67, Dondukov Blvd.
1504 Sofia, Bulgaria
Phone: + 359 2 946 10 68
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.filmmakersbg.org

Radina Kardjilova in 12A by Magdalena Ralcheva MINISTRY OF CULTURE
Minister of Culture: Boil Banov
17, Stamboliiski Blvd.
1040 Sofia, Bulgaria
Phone: + 359 2 940 09 00 (switchboard)
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.mc.government.bg

BULGARIAN NATIONAL FILM ARCHIVE
Director: Antonia Kovacheva
36, Gurko Str.
1000 Sofia, Bulgaria
Phone: + 359 2 987 02 96
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.bnf.bg

BULGARIAN NATIONAL TELEVISION
General Director: Konstantin Kamenarov
29, San Stefano Str.
1504 Sofia, Bulgaria
Phone: + 359 2 814 22 14
Phone.: + 359 2 944 49 99 (switchboard)
www.bnt.bg

Report by Pavlina Jeleva (2018)
Source: the Bulgarian National Film Centre

 

MARKET ANALYSIS 2017

Rosemarie by Adonis FloridesThe Ministry of Education and Culture in Cyprus made great efforts in 2017 to expand the country’s activities in various aspects concerning the cinema, including film production, film education and providing incentives for foreign productions. The launch of the new website Filming in Cyprus is part of this effort.

The Ministry of Education and Culture put in place the Regulation for Funding Programmes for the period 2017-2020. The programmes offer an amount of up to 50 percent of the budget for feature films and up to 60 percent for cross-border productions.

The programmes also offer funding of up to 70 percent for difficult feature films, which are to be filmed in one of the two official languages of the Republic of Cyprus or a combination of the two. For feature films with an extremely low budget (lower than 85,000 EUR), the programme offers a funding of 80 percent. Short films may receive up to 80 percent of the funding.

In 2017 the country hosted a number of international and national feature and short film festivals, the largest being Cyprus Film Days and the International Shor Film Festival of Cyprus (ISFFC). More information about festivals in Cyprus can be found on the Filming in Cyprus website.

Domestic films successfully participated in international film festivals all over the globe. Screenings of Cypriot and European cinematographic works are mainly achieved thanks to the support of the Ministry of Education and Culture. The island steadily produces documentaries and short films, and has an active TV production industry.

Happy Birthday directed by Christos GeorgiouPRODUCTION

Even though funding for film production has been reduced in relation to the years before the financial crisis in 2013, the Ministry of Education and Culture reviewed the regulations for its funding programme for the period 2016-2017 to help with the production of 23 projects with a low budget. The programme approved funding for nine feature fiction scripts and for 14 short films.

The feature films financially supported and coproduced by the Ministry of Education and Culture in Cyprus, which were completed in 2017 are:  Rosemarie, directed by Adonis Florides and produced by AMP Filmworks, Sunrise in Kimmeria, directed by Simon Farmakas and produced by FotoCine Studios Ltd, Happy Birthday, directed by Christos Georgiou and coproduced by Lychnari Productions Ltd, Viewmaster, Twenty Twenty Films and Manny Films, Clementine, directed by Longios Panayi and produced by Roll Out Vision Services in coproduction with Film Blades Filming Solutions, and the documentary Price of a Daughter, directed by Yelis Shukri and produced by Tetraktys Film Productions.

Sunrise in Kimmeria by Simon FarmakasSmuggling Hendrix, directed by Marios Piperides and produced by AMP Filmworks, Sotiris Christou’s White Small Envelopes, produced by Out of Focus, and Tonia Mishiali’s Pause, produced by A.B. Seahorse, are in final stages of postproduction.

Four films are expected to start shooting in 2018: Brothers, directed by Gianna Americanou and produced by Filmblades Ltd, Life Beneath, directed by Alexia Reuters and produced by Filmblades Ltd, The Man with Answers, directed by Stelios Kammits and produced by Felony Films, and The Siege on Liberty Street, directed by Stavros Pamballis and produced by Med Focus (which is a part of Green Olive Films).

Some of the above-mentioned feature films have European coproducers (Greece, Germany, France) and have been supported by Eurimages and the SEE Cinema Network.

DISTRIBUTION

Two films stood out in the international festival circuit in 2017 – Rosemarie by Adonis Florides and Happy Birthday by Christos Georgiou. Both of them were shown at the 58th Thessaloniki IFF. Rosemarie, which was supported by the Ministry of Education and Culture in Cyprus, received there the prestigious Greek Film Critics Association Award and also won the best film award in the main international competition at the 15th International Cyprus Film Days Festival

The independent short film Antidote, directed by Michael Hapeshis, continued to be screened at festivals in Philadelphia, Helsinki, Stockholm and Leuven in 2017. It was also screened at the Sundance Film Festival.

Boy on the Bridge (which received support from the Ministry of Education and Culture in Cyprus), directed by Petros Charalambous and produced by FilmWorks, continued to be successful in 2017. The film won the Audience Award at the 15th International Cyprus Film Days Festival, and it participated in the 7th Julien Dubuque IFF in the U.S., as well as in the 8th Cinema of the Future Society IFF in Albania, where it won best feature film for children and teenagers. It also won best film at the second Buzz Cee International Film Festival in Buzău, Romania, and best director award at the 15th Russian Amur Autumn Film Festival. The main actor in the film, Konstantinos Farmakas, was awarded best actor at the 11th Greek Film Festival in Australia.

Boy on the Bridge by Petros CharalambousThe documentary Beloved Day, directed by Constantinos Patsalides and produced by Walking Around the World in coproduction with the Ministry of Education and Culture, Filmblades, Atlantis and Roll Out Vision Services, premiered at the Umeo International Film Festival in Sweden. The film has secured an agreement for its global distribution.

In general, there are no worldwide distributors specialised in the distribution of domestic films, and usually distribution of domestic films is done via the producer within Cyprus. In the case of coproductions, the release of the film in the respective coproducing countries is handled by either the coproducer or a local distributor.  

EXHIBITION AND BOX OFFICE

The main exhibitor in Cyprus is K Cineplex, with two cinemas in Nicosia, one in Larnaca, one is Limassol and one in Paphos.

There is also the Rio cinema in Limassol. The Pantheon in Nicosia has started to screen some mainstream as well as art house films

Other small cinemas in the country are more like film clubs, such as Cinestudio in Nicosia and the Larnaca Cinema Society in Larnaca. These film clubs do not generally show mainstream films.  

GRANTS AND NEW REGULATION

Cinema in Cyprus is governed by the Regulations for the Funding of Programmes to Support Cinematographic Films (2017-2020) under the Ministry of Education and Culture.

According to the Regulations, low budget features may be funded by the ministry with up to 70% (in the category of difficult films) of their budget, to a total of 850,000 EUR.

The Ministry provides up to 595,000 EUR or a percentage of up to 70%, whichever is lower.Price of a Daughter by Yelis Shukri

For high budget films there is no limitation on budget, but priority is given to films with a budget of up to 2,500,000 EUR. The ministry provides up to 850,000 EUR or up to 70 per cent, depending on whichever is lower.

For script development, funding for a fiction film is up to 20,000 EUR, 7,000 EUR for a long documentary, up to 13,500 EUR of funding for a long animated film and up to 4,000 EUR for a short fiction film or short documentary.

The ministry’s funding participation in development is up to 35,000 EUR for a low budget feature, up to 45,000 EUR for a high budget feature and from 15,000 EUR to 35,000 EUR for documentaries and animated films of up to 60 or 90 min.

Continuing its efforts to encourage filmmakers in Cyprus, a country with a population of 850,000, the Ministry announced in 2016 that it would accept applications for a script development grant for low budget feature films and short films. The winners of the grants – amounting to 85,500 EUR for script development for low budget feature films and 239,000 EUR for short film production - which were put in place for the first time since 2013, were approved and contracts were signed in 2017. These include a total of 23 projects, of which 14 are short films.

The ministry provided the means for future or current filmmakers to learn from some of the top professionals in the industry during the Cyprus Film Days and the International Short Film Festival of Cyprus (ISFFC). In 2017 the Cyprus Film Days Festival included a masterclass with cinematographer Phil Meheux BSC and two workshops with director Richard Kwietniowski.

The Cyprus Cinema Guild is also extremely active in offering annual seminars and professional training to its members and to the public. Two institutions in Cyprus, the University of Nicosia and the Frederick Institute of Technology, offer programmes that have to do with education in the fields of the media and audiovisual communication.

TV

There are more than ten studios located in Cyprus and specialised in TV production. Local TV channels usually produce original comic and drama series, and also local sketches.

Smuggling Hendrix by Marios PiperidesLocal TV channels are: Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation (CyBC 1, 2, HD and Sat), Sigma TVTV ONE (previously called Mega One), Ant1, Plus TV, Capital and Alpha TV.

In 2017 the important new domestic series were the comedy La Pasta Pomilori, which was directed by Theodosis Ekonomidis and Antonis Sotiropoulos and broadcast on Ant1, and the period drama Halkina Hronia, directed by Corina Avramidou and Christos Nikolaou and aired on CyBC 1.

There are no local channels broadcasting only films.


CONTACTS:

REPUBLIC OF CYPRUS – MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND CULTURE
Pause by Tonia MishialiCultural Services
27 Ifigenias Street
2007 Strovolos – Nicosia, Cyprus
Phone: +357 22 809 811
Fax: +357 22 809 873
http://filmingincyprus.gov.cy/
http://www.moec.gov.cy/en/

Report by Maria Gregoriou (2018)
Sources: the Ministry of Education and Culture

 

MARKET ANALYSIS 2017

Toman by Ondřej TrojanCzech cinema had a good year in 2017, with international success of both feature films and documentaries, a film fund effectively supporting the development and production of numerous quality films, a growing number of coproductions, returning international film crews shooting on Czech locations and excellent box office results.

PRODUCTION

Among the most important titles shooting in 2017 were several period films, including Painted Bird / Nabarvené ptáče, directed by Václav Marhoul and produced by Silvescreen, Jan Palach, directed by Robert Sedláček and produced by Cineart TV Prague, and Toman by Ondřej Trojan, produced by Total HelpArt T.H.A..

The long awaited fairy tale The Magic Quill / Čertí brko, directed by Marek Najbrt and produced by Punk Film, was shot in the summer of 2017.

The romantic fantasy based on the acclaimed novel Hastrman, directed by Ondřej Havelka and produced by První veřejnoprávní,, was shot from July to September 2017.

The comedies filmed in 2017 included Dad´s Volha, directed by Jiří Vejdělek and produced by Infinity Prague, and Desperate Women Do Desperate Things / Zoufalé ženy dělají zoufalé věcí directed by Filip Renč and produced by U.F.O. Pictures..

The Magic Quill by Marek Najbrt, photo: Punk Film, Marek NovotnýThere were also numerous foreign productions shooting in the Czech Republic in 2017. Unique Czech locations, the experience and expertise of the Barrandov Studio, which hosts one of the largest costumes and props rental houses in Europe, are constantly attracting big and small productions.

The year 2017 saw a boom of German TV productions shooting on Czech locations. According to Helena Bezděk Fraňková, the Director of the Czech Film Fund, 14 television films and series spent over 33 m EUR / 850 m CZK in nearly 400 filming days in the Czech Republic. “German television productions have in recent years been our most loyal ‘clients’ and Germany clearly surpasses other countries in terms of the number of foreign projects shooting here”, Helena Bezděk Fraňková said.

The eight-part series Das Boot, directed by Andreas Prochaska and produced by Bavaria Fiction, is the biggest German production shot in the Czech Republic since the introduction of incentives in 2010. Stillking Films provided services. Out of the total budget of 25 m EUR, about 14 m EUR were spent at the Barrandov Studio. 

Der Prag Krimi, photo: Schivago FilmOther German productions shot in the Czech Republic in 2017 were: Der Prag-Krimi, directed by Nicolai Rohde and produced by Schiwago Film GmbH, the Charité series, directed by Anno Saul, produced by UFA Fiction for ARD and serviced by Mia Film, and the two-part thriller Walpurgis Night, directed by Hans Steinbichler, produced by Wiedemann & Berg Television GmbH & Co. KG for ZDF and serviced by Czech Wilma Film.

Other important international productions shot in the Czech Republic in 2017 were: the first season of the Genius series, directed by Ron Howard and produced by Fox 21 Television Studios, Imagine Television, OddLot Entertainment and EUE/Sokolow for the National Geographic channel and with Stillking Films providing services; the postwar drama The Aftermath, directed by James Kent and produced by Fox Searchlight Pictures and Scott Free Productions with Sirena Film servicing; Xavier Dolan’s Death and Life of John F. Donovan, produced by Lyla Films and Sons of Manual and serviced by Film United;; Ben Levin’s The Catcher Was a Spy, produced by PalmStar Media, Animus Films, Serena Films, in association with Windy Hill Pictures, with Czech-Anglo Productions servicing, and the two-part film Maria Theresa directed by Robert Dornheim and produced by Maya Production, MR-Film Gruppe (A) and BETA Film GmbH (A).   

Hastrman by Ondřej HavelkaDISTRIBUTION

A total of 26 domestic feature films, two long animated films and 27 documentaries longer than 60 minutes had their premieres in 2017. Of these, 13 are debuts and 20 are coproductions, including six minority coproductions.

Many important feature films released in 2017 were inspired by events and personalities from the Czech history.

Jan Svěrak´s Barefoot / Po strništi bos, produced by Biograf Jan Svěrák Pictures, became the best attended Czech film in 2017. Jan Svěrák returns to the war childhood of his father, Zdeněk Svěrák, and makes a prequel to another extremely popular film of the Svěráks’ tandem, The Elementary School / Obecná škola (1991, Barrandov Film Studio).

A Prominent Patient /  Masaryk, directed by Julius Ševčík and produced by In Film, premiered in the Berlinale Special section of the 2017 Berlin IFF. This drama, focusing on the controversial figure of the Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Jan Masaryk in the 40´s, was domestically released by Bioscop in the spring of 2017.

Milada, directed by David Mrnka and produced by Loaded Vision Entertainment, was released by Bohemia M.P. in 2017 and is available in numerous language versions on Netflix, which co-funded its production. The film is based on the tragic story of the politician Milada Horáková, who was unjustly sentenced and executed during Stalin's political processes in the 50s.

Little Crusader by Václav KadrnkaThe medieval road movie Little Crusader / Křižáček, directed by Václav Kadrnka and produced by Sirius Films, won the Crystal Globe for best film at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival 2017.

Ice Mother / Bába z ledu, directed by Bohdan Sláma and coproduced by the Czech company Negativ, Slovakia’s Artileria and France’s Why Not Productions, was voted as the Czech Oscar bid in the Foreign Language Film category in 2017. The film was distributed in the Czech Republic by Falcon.

Among the most interesting documentaries in 2017 were Červená by Olga Sommerová and Miroslav Janek´s Universum Brdečka, both produced by Evolution Films and released in cinemas by Aerofilms.

Minority coproductions also had a successful life at festivals. Czech minority coproduction Spoor / Pokot, directed by Agnieszka Holland and produced by TOR Film Production, was awarded the Alfred Bauer Prize for Artistic Contribution at the Berlin IFF 2017.

Cervena by Olga SommerovaLittle Harbor/ Pátá loď, directed by Iveta Grófová and produced by Silverart and endorfilm, won the Crystal Bear for best film of the Children's Jury in the Generation Kplus section of the 2017 Berlin IFF.

Filthy / Špína, directed by Tereza Nvotová and produced by Bfilm and Moloko Film, premiered at the Rotterdam IFF.

There are seven distribution companies in the Czech Republic with a market share of over 1%.

In 2017, Falcon, the distributor of some major US studios’ productions and also high-profile Czech films, had 32.1 % market share and replaced the last year’s top distributor Cinemart, which had 29, 2% market share. Vertical Entertainment (Freeman) ranked third with 16.8%, followed by Bioscoop/AQS with 11.5% market share.

Dads Volha by Jiří Vejdělek, photo: CinemartEXHIBITION AND BOX OFFICE

The year 2017 was very good for Czech cinemas. Although the results slightly decreased compared with 2016, it was still the second best year in the history of the independent Czech cinema market.

Total admissions were 15,233,432 and total box office was 78,814,200 EUR / 2,004,245,131 CZK, compared to 15,621,923 admissions and 79,081,565 EUR / 2,011,044,198 CZK in 2016.

However, there was a considerable drop of over 10 percent in the admissions to domestic titles, which reached only 20 percent of the total admissions in 2017. 

The most attended Czech film in 2017 was Jan Svěrak´s Barefoot / Po strništi bos with 505,282 admissions and 2.55 m EUR / 64,813,015 CZK gross. The film was distributed by Bioscop.

There were three Czech films in the admissions top ten: Barefoot, the comedy River Rascals / Špunti na vodě directed by Jiří Chlumský, produced by Fresh Lobster in coproduction with Fénix Film, Sibira Pro and Fénix Distribution (distributed by Bioscop), and the 2016´s hit Angel of the Lord 2, directed by Jiří Strach, produced by Marlene Film Production and distributed by Falcon .

Barefoot by Jan SvěrakA total of 284 new releases hit Czech cinemas in 2017, of which 56 were Czech titles.

The average ticket price in 2017 was 5.18 EUR / 131.57 CZK (compared to 5.07 EUR / 128.73 CZK in 2016).

Total admissions top ten is topped by the US animation Despicable me 3 directed by Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda, with 610,882 admissions and 3.26 m EUR / 82,848,893 CZK gross, followed by Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge, directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, with 567,665 admissions and 3.25 m EUR / 82, 651,627 CZK gross.

In 2017 the market share of multiplexes, counting 256 screens and 44,464 seats, reached 75.4%. The largest multiplex cinema operators are Cinema City and Cine Star.

Desperate Women Do Desperate Things by Filip RenčGRANTS AND NEW LEGISLATION

The Czech Film Fund remains the main tool for public support of Czech cinema. The funding is granted in 10 areas: development, production, distribution, promotion, technological development, publications, education and training, festivals and events, protection, preservation and access to film heritage. The fund also supports the activities of film offices in the Czech Republic, helping Czech and foreign filmmakers to shoot in various regions of the country.

In 2017, the Czech Film Fund issued a total of 36 calls for domestic grants with the total funding of 14.6 m EUR / 370 m CZK, of which 11.3 m EUR / 287 m CZK (80%) was earmarked for Czech film development and production of all film genres, including minority coproductions.

The most important films supported in 2017 were: My Sunny Maad, directed by Michaela Pavlátová and produced by Negativ and France’s Sacrebleu Productions (744,000 EUR / 19 m CZK); Šarlatán, directed by Agnieszka Holland and produced by Marlene Film Production (509,000 EUR / 13 m CZK); Opravdoví bratři, directed by Petr Nikolaev and produced by Daniel Severa Production (587,544 EUR / 15 m CZK); Kryštof, directed by Zdeněk Jiráský and produced by Fulfilm (528,790 EUR / 13.5 m CZK) and Jan Palach ,directed by Robert Sedláček and produced by Cineart TV Prague (430,865 EUR / 11 m CZK).

Since the introduction of the new law in 2013, the Czech Film Fund has also administered the Czech incentives scheme. The incentives are granted in the form of a 20% cash rebate on Czech production costs and 66% on the withholding tax on non-resident labor costs paid in the Czech Republic. The incentives are available for feature films, TV and animation series, animated and documentary films. Maximum eligible costs are set at 80% of the total budget.

My Sunny Maad by Michaela PavlátováThe pre-condition of eligibility for the incentive is the minimum volume of the Czech cost:

555,000 EUR / 15 m CZK for a feature, animated or TV film (minimum runtime 70 min.)
74,000 EUR / 2 m CZK for a theatrical documentary (minimum runtime 70 min.)
295,000 EUR / 8 m CZK for a TV episode (minimum runtime 30 min.)
147,500 EUR / 1 m CZK for an animated episode (minimum runtime5 min.)

The amendment to the audiovisual law approved in May 2016 came into effect on 1 January 2017. An improved incentives scheme was introduced, which makes the system more flexible for film productions.

The rebate is no longer subject to a yearly cap. Producers can register the project at any time during the year and immediately receive a registration certificate. Upon receiving the registration certificate, the producer can apply for the allocation of the rebate. The timing of the application is important. Within four months after the application is filed, at least 10 shooting days must be completed in the Czech Republic. Rebates are allotted throughout the year, depending on the beginning of production. For animated films, if shooting in the Czech Republic is longer than 10 days, producers are able to receive their grants in two parts: first upon the completion of the shooting in the Czech Republic and the second part after the completion of all Czech production.

Large amounts of incentives were allotted in 2017 to: Carnival Row (10.3 m EUR /  261 m CZK), directed by Paul McGuigan and Anna Foerster, produced by Legendary Television, Ophelia (1.7 m EUR / 42.6 m CZK), directed by Claire McCarthy and produced by Covert Media (US), Bobker / Kruger Films (US) and Forthcoming Films (UK), both with Stillking Films servicing, and the Czech production Jan Palach (294,000 EUR / 7.5 m CZK), directed by Robert Sedláček and produced by Cineart TV Prague.

The National Film Archive handles both domestic and international sales of films made in Czechoslovakia before 1991 and produced by Barrandov and Zlín film studios (both state owned at the time).

The Czech Film Center is in charge of the promotion of Czech films abroad and is the official national representative of Czech cinema and film industry at key film festivals and markets. The Czech Film Commission is the official film office supporting and promoting audiovisual production in the Czech Republic. Both institutions are a part of the Czech Film Fund.

A Prominent Patient by Július ŠevčíkTV

There are three major TV groups in the Czech Republic, reaching a cumulative market share of approximately 80% in the target group of viewers 15+ in 2017: the public TV Czech Television with a market share of 29.26%, NOVA group with 30.26%, Prima group with 20.76% and Barrandov TV with 8.91%.

TV companies are introducing new channels in order to compensate for the declining audience of flagship stations. The Czech Television currently runs six channels: CT1, CT2, CT24, CT sport, CT:D and CT Art.

NOVA group channels include NOVANOVA 2, NOVA CinemaNOVA Action, NOVA Gold, NOVA Sport and NOVA Sport 2.

Prima group consists of Prima FamilyPrima COOLPrima LOVEPrima ZOOM, new Prima MAX and Prima Comedy.

Milada by David Mrnka, photo: www.loadedvision.comTV stations also increased the number of programmes available on the internet, bringing them to a larger audience. TV NOVA has its video library Voyo.cz, Prima group runs PrimaPlay.cz, while the Czech TV offers its programmes via iVysílání.cz.

The market for TV advertising is dominated by Nova and Prima (90%), while advertising on the Czech Television is limited to a minimum by the law. The television is traditionally the strongest advertising medium in the country.

Television stations play a large role in the production of quality content for local film and TV productions. The Czech TV has become a permanent partner of Czech cinema, with its in-house production sector Film Center coproducing many feature films, including the already mentioned high-profile films Barefoot, Little Crusader, Jan Palach or Garden Store. The Czech TV is also a coproducer of almost all documentaries released in the cinemas.

CONTACTS:

CZECH FILM FUND
Veletržní palác, Dukelských hrdinů 47, 170 00 Prague 7
Little Harbor by Iveta GrofovaPhone: +420 224 301 278
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.fondkinematografie.cz

NATIONAL FILM ARCHIVES
Malešická 12, 130 00 Prague 3
Phone: +420 778 522 729
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.nfa.cz

APA- AUDIOVISUAL PRODUCERS’ ASSOCIATION
Národní 28, 110 00 Prague 1
Phone: +420 603 844 811
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.asociaceproducentu.cz

CREATIVE EUROPE – MEDIA CZECH REPUBLIC
Národní 28, 110 00 Prague 1
Phone: +420 221 105 209
Fax: +420 221 105 303
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.mediadeskcz.eu

CZECH FILM AND TELEVISION ACADEMY
Karlovo nám 285/19, 120 00 Prague 2
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.cfta.cz

CZECH FILM CENTER
Národní 28, 110 00 Prague 1
Phone: +420 221 105 303
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.filmcenter.cz

CZECH FILM COMMISSION
Národní 28, 110 00 Prague 1
Phone: 420 778 543 290
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.filmcommission.cz

Spoor by Agnieszka HollandINSTITUTE OF DOCUMENTARY FILM
Štěpánská 611/14, 110 00 Praha 1
Phone: +420 224 214 858
Fax: +420 224 214 858
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.dokweb.net

FITES – CZECH FILM AND TELEVISION UNION
Pod Nuselskými schody 3, 120 00 Prague 2
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
www.fites.cz

FILM DISTRIBUTORS’ UNION
nám. Winstona Churchilla 2, 130 00 Prague 3
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , www.ufd.cz 

Report by Denisa Strbova (2018)
Sources:  the Czech Film Fund, the Czech Film Center, the Czech Film Commission, the Film Distributor´s Union

 

MARKET ANALYSIS 2017

The Dissidents by Jaak KilmiEstonian cinema had a successful year in 2017 and continued to break records. Total admissions reached an all-time high of 3.51 m, a 6.3 percentage-point increase from 2016. Another record is 2.67 admissions per capita. Total box office reached a record of 19.39 m EUR, with 9.1 percentage points more than in 2016.

Domestic films had 282,421 admissions, adding up to an 8% market share. The Dissidents, directed by Jaak Kilmi and produced by Taska Film, topped the box office with 85,306 admissions and over 480,000 EUR gross.

Enterprise Estonia, the country’s industry development agency, supported two creative industry initiatives with a total of 522,063 EUR to be spent over the next two years.

PRODUCTION

In 2017 major production of feature films for the centennial film programme Estonian Republic 100 took place. Most of the premiere dates are already scheduled.The Little Comrade by Moonika Siimets

The Little Comrade, directed by Moonika Siimets and produced by Amrion, was shot in August 2016-June 2017 and is set to be released on 15 March 2018.

The Riddle of Jaan Niemand, directed by Kaur Kokk and produced by Homeless Bob Production, was shot in March-June 2017 and will premiere on 5 October 2018.

Truth and Justice, directed by Tanel Toom and produced by Allfilm, started filming in April 2017 and will wrap in August 2019, with the domestic premiere scheduled for 2019.

Lotte and the Lost Dragons, the third instalment of Estonia’s most famous animated franchise and the only animated feature in the centennial film programme, directed by Janno Põldma and Heiki Ernits and produced by Eesti Joonisfilm, will wrap production in early 2018. The film will reach the screens in 2019.

Take It or Leave It, directed by Liina Trishkina-Vanhatalo and produced by Allfilm, will finish production in January 2018. The release is planned for September 2018.

The Riddle of Jaan Niemand by Kaur KokkThe last Estonian Republic 100 film to enter production is Eia's Christmas at Phantom Owl Farm, directed by Anu Aun and produced by Luxfilm and Kinosaurus Film. Principal photography is due to begin in January 2018 with the premiere set for December 2018.

Other films wrapped production in 2017.

Estonian minority coproduction Scary Mother, directed by Georgian Ana Urushadze and coproduced by Allfilm, has already collected nine awards at international film festivals since its premiere in August 2017.

The Finnish/Estonian/Swedish coproduction The Eternal Road, directed by AJ Annila and coproduced by Taska Film, received the first ever FilmEstonia cash rebate support and premiered in August 2017 in Finland and December 2017 in Estonia. The film was in the Official Selection of the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival.

The Confession aka The Monk by Academy Award nominated director Zaza Urushadze, an Estonian/Georgian coproduction produced by Allfilm, was finished and premiered in 2017.

The Estonian/Russian coproduction Green Cats, directed by Andres Puustusmaa and produced by Leo Production, was finished in 2017 with the premiere set for 12 January 2018.

Scary Mother by Ana UrushadzeThe Swan, directed by Ása Helga Hjörleifsdótir, is a coproduction between Iceland, Germany and Estonia (Kopli Kinokompanii), set to hit Estonian cinemas in January 2018.

Class Reunion 2: Wedding and Funeral, the sequel to the 2016 film still holding the box office record in Estonia, directed by René Vilbre and produced by Taska Film, was also finished in 2017 with the premiere scheduled for 13 February 2018.

Portugal, directed by Lauri Lagle and produced by Allfilm, which won the First Look main award along with postproduction support in Locarno, will be domestically released on 5 April 2018.

The Estonian/French/Belgian coproduction Fire Lily, directed by Maria Avdjuško and produced by Meteoriit, will open in May 2018. The film, starring the Hollywood-based Estonian-born actor Johann Urb, was shot in November-December 2017.

Morten and the Spider Queen, a long animated film directed by Kaspar Jancis and coproduced by Estonia’s Nukufilm, Ireland’s Telegael, Belgium’s GRID VFX and UK’s Calon, finished production at the end of July 2017 and it set to open in 2018. Its English version will be voiced by Ciaran Hinds and Brendan Gleeson among others.

Morten and the Spider Queen by Kaspar JancisMihkel, directed by Ari Alexander Magnusson and coproduced by Iceland’s True North and Estonia’s Amrion, was shot in Estonia for five days in May-June 2017, after an Icelandic shooting in the autumn of 2016. The film is set to premiere on 24 August 2018.

Rain, a debut feature directed by Janno Jürgens and produced by Alasti Kino, was shot over several periods from August 2017 to February 2018, and will premiere in late 2018.

 

Truth and Justice by Tanel ToomThe Last Ones, directed by Veiko Õunpuu and produced by Estonia’s Homeless Bob Production and Finland’s Bufo, was shot in August-November 2017 and will premiere in 2019.

The recipients of the FilmEstonia cash rebate grants in 2017 are: the animated series Bibi Blocksberg, directed by Aina Järvine and produced by A Film Eesti, the TV series Bordertown, directed by Miikko Oikkonen, Jyri Kähönen, Juuso Syrjä and produced by Amrion, and the long animated film Checked Ninja, directed by Anders Matthesen, Thorbjørn Christoffersen and produced by A Film Eesti.

DISTRIBUTION

A total of 355 films were distributed in Estonia in 2017. The average ticket price was 5.53 EUR, a 2.3 percentage point increase year on year from 2016. The largest number of titles, 179, originated from Europe. The US came second with 111 films.

Swingers by Andrejs EkisA total of 21 Estonian Films premiered in cinemas through 2017 and two of them made it to the top ten. The Dissidents, directed by Jaak Kilmi and produced by Taska Film, ranked 2nd, while Swingers, directed by Andrejs Ekis and produced by Platforma Film, ranked 7th.

In March 2017, the first ever Estonian Film & Television Awards ceremony was held with The Days That Confused by Triin Ruumet, produced by Kinosaurus Film, bringing home the majority of the film awards, six in total, including Best Film and Best Director. Livia Ulman and Andris Feldmanis won Best Screenplay for Pretenders by Vallo Toomla, produced by Amrion, Jaagup Roomet won Best Production Design for The Polar Boy by Anu Aun, produced by Luxfilm, and Tiina Mälberg won Best Film Actress for Mother by Kadri Kõusaar, produced by Meteoriit.

The Days That Confused by Triin RuumetEXHIBITION AND BOX OFFICE

Total admissions reached an all-time high of 3,510,932, a six percent increase from 2016. Another record is 2.67 admissions per capita. Total box office reached a record of 19,399,483 EUR, 9.1 percent more than in 2016.

Rain by Janno JürgensDomestic films had 282,421 admissions, adding up to an 8% market share. The most successful Estonian film was The Dissidents, which made box office No 1 with 85,306 admissions and over 480,000 EUR gross.

The distribution market was dominated by ACME Films with 36% and Estonian Theatrical Distribution with 30% of market share. Forum Cinemas in the third place had 22% of the market share.

 

GRANTS AND NEW LEGISLATION

In 2016, the annual state support for film industry was 9,877,146 EUR with 7,025,151 EUR from the Estonian Film Institute, 2,141,995 EUR from the Cultural Endowment, and 710,000 EUR from the Ministry of Culture.

In 2017, the Estonian Film Institute provided production and postproduction grants for the following feature films and minority coproductions: The Dissidents directed by Jaak Kilmi; The Man Who Looks Like Me, directed by Katrin Maimik and Andres Maimik and produced by Kuukulgur Film; The Last Ones directed by Veiko Õunpuu; Mihkel directed by Ari Alexander Magnusson; Man Wanted, directed by Irida Zhonga and produced by Nukufilm; The Man Who Surprised Everyone, a Russian/French/Estonian coproduction coproduced by Homeless Bob Production, directed by Natalya Merkulova and Aleksey Chupov; Rain directed by Janno Jürgens; Sandra Gets a Job, directed by Kaupo Kruusiauk and produced by Kopli Kinokompanii; Class Reunion 2: Wedding and Funeral directed by René Vilbre; Green Cats directed by Andres Puustusmaa, and Fire Lily directed by Maria Avdjuško.

In 2017, the budget of Estonia’s cash rebate system FilmEstonia, targeted at foreign feature and quality TV productions, reached 1 m EUR. Estonia’s cash rebate allows for reimbursement of up to 30% of locally incurred costs. The system imposes a 1 m EUR minimum budget threshold for feature films and 2 m EUR for animated films, as well as minimum requirements for local spend (200,000 EUR for feature films, 100,000 EUR for animated films).The Eternal Road by AJ Annila

Estonia’s cash rebate system supported three projects with the amount of 118,279 EUR in 2017.

In 2017, Enterprise Estonia, the country’s industry development agency, supported two audiovisual infrastructure initiatives with a total of 522,063.90 EUR, to be spent within three years.

Creative industries development centre Creative Gate received 300,000 EUR to create an international platform as a gateway for film and audiovisual industry in collaboration with creative and service sector partners. The central export marketing channel of Creative Gate is the annual Industry@Tallinn, a part of the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival.

Storytek Accelerator (which received 222,063.90 EUR) brings together deep audiovisual sector knowledge, technology and funding with a selection of hand-picked tech entrepreneurs and content creators. Storytek helps creatives, producers and early stage companies to develop business, fast track their content projects, products and services to the global markets and access finances during a challenging 10-week programme held twice a year in Tallinn, Estonia.

The new building of the Estonian Film Museum was opened in October 2017.

On 27-28 November 2017, the Estonian EU Presidency Conference Pictured Futures: Connecting Content, Tech & Policy in Audiovisual Europe was organised by the Ministry of Culture in collaboration with Estonian Film Institute, Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival and the European Commission. The event was co-financed by the European Commission and Enterprise Estonia

The Confession by Zaza UrushadzeTV

There are three main TV broadcasters in Estonia. The Estonian Public Broadcasting operates three channels: the flagship ETV, the culturally oriented ETV2 and the recently launched Russian-language ETV+, that is yet to capture a sizeable audience of Estonia’s Russian-speaking minority. The two leading commercial broadcasters are Kanal2 and Viasat-owned TV3, both of which also beam a host of niche channels.

The 10-part TV drama series The Bank / Pank, which won a production grant from the centennial film and TV programme, started production and is planned to air in the autumn season of 2018. Itamambuca is producing on a more than 1.5 m EUR budget - more than 10 times the regular Estonian TV series.

CONTACTS:

ESTONIAN FILM INSTITUTE
Uus 3, Tallinn 10111
Phone: +372 627 60 60
Fax: +372 627 60 61
www.filmi.ee
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Riddle of Jaan Niemand by Kaur KokkCULTURAL ENDOWMENT OF ESTONIA
Suur-Karja 23, Tallinn 10148
Phone: +372 699 9150
www.kulka.ee
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

ESTONIAN ANIMATION UNION
Roo 9, Tallinn 10611
Phone: +372 646 4299
Fax: +372 646 4299
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact: Rao Heidmets

ESTONIAN DOCUMENTARY GUILD
Vilmsi 53g, 10147 Tallinn
www.dokfilm.ee
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

ESTONIAN FILMMAKERS UNION
Uus 3, Tallinn 10111
Phone: +372 646 4068
www.kinoliit.ee
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact: Kadri Vaas

ESTONIAN NATIONAL PRODUCERS UNION
Uus 3, Tallinn 10111
Phone: +372 5825 8962
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact: Aet Laigu

ESTONIAN FILM INDUSTRY CLUSTER
Phone +372 5343 6863
www.filmestonia.eu
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact: Karin Reinberg-Šestakov

ESTONIAN SOCIETY OF CINEMATOGRAPHERS ESC
www.esc.edicypages.com/et

THE ASSOCIATION OF PROFESSIONAL ACTORS OF ESTONIA
Uus 5, Tallinn 10111
Phone: +372 646 4517
Fax: +372 646 4516
www.enliit.ee
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

THE ESTONIAN ASSOCIATION OF FILM JOURNALISTS
Narva mnt 11e, Tallinn 10151
Phone: +372 669 8210
Fax: +372 669 8154
www.filmikriitik.ee
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact: Andrei Liimets

THE UNION OF ESTONIAN FILM CLUBS
Vikerlase 13-62, Tallinn 13616
Phone: +372 632 4662; +372 55 46042
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact: Raivo Olmet

ESTONIAN FILM MUSEUMThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Pirita road 56, 10127 Tallinn
Phone: +372 6 968 600; +372 5620 8875
http://www.ajaloomuuseum.ee/en/filmmuseum
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact: Maria Mang

ESTONIAN FILM DATABASE
Koidu 17-1, 10137 Tallinn
Phone: +372 6015982
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.efis.ee/en 

ESTONIAN FILM ARCHIVES
Ristiku 84, Tallinn 10318
Phone: +372 693 8613
www.filmi.arhiiv.ee/index.php?lang=eng
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Report by Leana Jalukse (2018)
Sources: Estonian Film Institute, Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Estonian Ministry of Culture

 

MARKET ANALYSIS 2017

Grandpa Is More Dangerous than the Computer by Varis BraslaAhead of Latvia's Centennial, which will be celebrated throughout 2018, the support for local film production steadily increased to 9,109,016 EUR in 2017, with more than 2 m EUR increase compared to 2016. Film production has taken a more robust path due to the Latvian Films for Latvian Centenary special programme, consisting of 16 feature films.

Total state support for the industry in 2017 was 9,109,016 EUR, including approximately 6 m EUR as production support for 42 films.

For the second consecutive year, two domestic films are among top 10 most watched movies in Latvia. There were 16 domestic premieres in 2017, of which the most successful was Varis Brasla's family film and comedy Grandfather Is More Dangerous than the Computer with 76,068 admissions and 281,029 EUR gross. Andrejs Ekis’ comedy Swingers, which was released at the end of 2016, ranked number seven.

PRODUCTION

Domestic films continued to steadily grow, as an unprecedented state support was given to the production of films in the Centennial programme.

A total of 15 feature films were in production in 2017, as well as nine animated films and 18 documentaries.

One of the most expensive productions, the historic drama The Pagan King, directed by Aigars Grauba and produced by Platforma Filma, wrapped at the end of 2017. Another major action drama, Blizzard of Souls / Dvēseļu putenis, directed by Dzintars Dreibergs and produced by KultFilma, was also shot in 2017.

Madara Dišlere's feature film Paradise '89 (produced by Tasse Film) is set at the time when Latvia regained its independence.

Swingers by Andrejs EkisMistrus Media produced three films in 2017: Ivars Seleckis' documentary To Be Continued (about several 7 year old children and their life), Gints Grūbe's documentary Lustrum (about KGB archives) and Dāvis Sīmanis' feature film The Mover (produced by Mistrus Media) about Žanis Lipke, who sheltered Jews during the Nazi occupation.

DISTRIBUTION

A total of 295 films were distributed in 2017.

The leading distribution companies in the country are regional Baltic distributors: Forum Cinemas, Latvian Theatrical Distribution, Acme Film and Topfilm Baltic.

Local distribution is also handled by Kinopunkts, that screens films in more than 100 locations outside traditional cinemas. The project is supported by the National Film Centre and the Culture Capital Foundation of Latvia.

Small cinema initiatives focusing on the distribution of independent and art house films, such as Kino Bize and Kino Spektrs, which emerged in 2014 and 2015, continued their activity in 2017.

The internet platform Filmas, the biggest Latvian film database launched in 2015, provides a catalogue of more than 2,500 films, going back to the 1920s. Approximately 120 films are free of charge, but for the time being only on Latvian devices, due to distribution rights. The project is supported by the National Film Centre of Latvia in cooperation with the Riga Film Museum and the Culture Information Systems Centre.

Two commercial platforms, Shortcut and Viaplay, offer film streamings, including domestic premieres.

The 4th Riga International Film Festival took place from 7 to 17 September 2017. Estonian director Rainer Sarnet’s November, an Estonian/Polish/Dutch coproduction between Estonia’s Homeless Bob Productions, Poland’s Opus Film and the Dutch company PRPL, was awarded Best Feature Film. The national award at the Lielais Kristaps National Film Festival went to Chronicles of Melanie, directed by Viestur Kairish and produced by Mistrus Media. The annual short film festival 2 Annas took place from 28 November to 3 December 2017.

The Pagan King by Aigars GraubaEXHIBITION AND BOX OFFICE

Latvia had 23 cinemas in 2017 (including 4 multiplexes) with 61 screens, of which 25 are 3D screens.

The average ticket price is 5.19 EUR.

In 2017 admissions were 2,476,951 and box office was 12,860,497 EUR.

Domestic films had 194 083 admissions, adding up to a 7.83% market share, which is a slight growth from 7,38% in 2016.

There were 16 domestic premieres in 2017. Among them are Varis Brasla's family film and comedy Grandfather Is More Dangerous than the Computer, produced by Studio F.O.R.M.A., which was the first film from the Latvian Films for Latvian Centenary programmme to be finished. Grandfather Is More Dangerous than the Computer was the most popular domestic movie in 2017 with more than 75,000 admissions and also the most successful domestic family film in the opening week with over 13,000 admissions. The film is domestically distributed by its production company, while Rija Films is handling the sales.

Ieva Ozolina's documentary Solving My Mother (produced by FA Filma), which won the 2017 IDFA First Appearance Special Jury Award, hit the domestic cinemas only at the beginning of 2018, but Janis Nords' relationship drama Foam at the Mouth (produced by Tasse Film) and the Latvian/Norwegian documentary Liberation Day (produced by VFS Films), about the famous band Laibach’s visit to North Korea, were released in 2017.

A total of 267 international films were released in 2017, compared to 276 in 2016.

Foam at the Mouth by Janis NordsThe most successful films in 2017 were: Despicable Me 3 (128,336 admissions), Grandpa Who Is More Dangerous Than the Computer (76,068 admissions), Boss Baby (76,017 admissions), The Fate of the Furious (72,813 admissions), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (69,774 admissions), Fifty Shades Darker (63,631 admissions), Swingers (58,560 admissions), Emoji Movie (52,576 admissions), Smurfs: The Lost Village (51,038), Cars 3 (46,494 admissions).

GRANTS AND NEW LEGISLATION

The National Film Centre is the main film institution in Latvia. It serves as the primary source of funding for local films. The grants contest is held annually, although separate tenders regarding different stages of project development are announced throughout the year.

Total state support for the industry in 2017 was 9,109,016 EUR, including approximately 6 m EUR as production support for 42 films.

Additionally, 748,000 EUR were given to seven international coproductions, of which five are coproduced by Tasse Film. All the seven titles are Latvian minority coproductions.

Five Latvian productions received funding from Eurimages, totalling 557,000 EUR.

In 2017 the Riga Film Fund, which offers a cash rebate of up to 20% of all production costs, approved four co-financing agreements for a total amount of 686,509 EUR for six minority coproductions.

Among the projects that received co-financing agreements in 2017 were three coproductions handled by Tasse Film and two by Forma Pro Films. The largest rebate was granted to Film Angels Production for Age of Iron, directed by Philippe Berenger, that is a coproduction with France's Slot Machine. The rebate is 135,718 EUR, representing 20% of the costs of shooting in Latvia.

Paradise 89 by Madara DišlereLatvia has a range of diverse filmmaking locations, including medieval, Art Nouveau and 19th century wooden architecture, therefore urban as well as natural locations in Latvia are able to double for many European places. Latvia is home to the Cinevilla Film Studio, located 50 km from the national capital Riga and providing opportunities for shooting, as well as its own hotel.

The Latvian Film Producers Association with its approximately 30 members represents the most important film professionals association in Latvia. The Latvian Filmmakers Union, which was established in 1962, also represents local filmmakers. An important role in the region is played by the Films Service Producers Association, whose members include, among others, the Latvian Film Angels Studio, Baltic Pines film studio and Ego Media. These entities have a vast experience in handling foreign productions shooting in Latvia.

TV

The leading broadcaster in Latvia is the commercial channel TV3. Along with the LNT channel, it was purchased in 2017 by the investment company Providence Equity Partners from its previous owner Modern Times Group.

The public broadcaster LTV is funded by the state and also through advertising revenues. The Latvian Television organises an annual film project The Code of Latvia / Latvijas kods, focusing on stories about contemporary life in Latvia. The project is implemented in cooperation and with the support of the National Film Centre of Latvia and the Culture Capital Foundation. New episodes are presented every year in November as a part of Latvian Independence Day celebrations.

LTV, which is also a TV film producer, produced mostly documentaries in 2017. Red Book, a new historic drama TV series, was in production in 2017 and is set to be aired in 2018 as part of Latvia's Centennial celebration. The series is coproduced with Red Dot Media.

CONTACTS:

NATIONAL FILM CENTRE OF LATVIA
Peitavas 10, Riga, Latvia, LV-1050
Phone: +371 7358878
Fax: +371 7358877
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.nkc.lv
Director: Dita Rietuma


RIGA FILM FUND
Phone: +371 6703 7659
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.filmriga.lv

Chronicles of Melanie by Viesturs KairišsCULTURE CAPITAL FOUNDATION
Phone: +371 6750 3177
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.kkf.lv


LATVIAN FILM PRODUCERS ASSOCIATION
President: Aija Berzina
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Mobile: +371 26466014

LATVIAN FILMMAKERS UNION
Chairman: Ieva Romanova
Elizabetes Str.49, Riga
LV-1010, Latvia
Mobile: +371 29696874
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


FILM SERVICE PRODUCERS ASSOCIATION OF LATVIA
Kr. Valdemara 33-10, Riga, LV-1010, Latvia
Phone: +371 67331921
Mobile: +371 25666698
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.filmservice.lv


MINISTRY OF CULTURE
Phone: +371 6707 8137
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.km.gov.lv

Report by Zane Peneze (2018)
Sources: Film Riga, the National Film Centre of Latvia, the Latvian Television

 

Maneland by Peter Sant, credit: Michael GaleaMARKET ANALYSIS 2016

Malta saw a somewhat quieter year in 2016, albeit still managing to attract a few names and productions of note, and making significant steps towards the establishment of film as a medium of indigenous creative expression, artistic appreciation and academic inquiry.

 

PRODUCTION

Local film production saw two feature films made and benefiting from financial incentives from the Malta Film Commission: Peter Sant’s Maneland, an allegorical film about a king who lives with his three daughters in an island bunker, and Mark Doneo’s The Weeping House of Qala produced by his own Mad Movies Productions, a ghost story based on an urban legend about a dilapidated house.

U-Film resumed work on their miniseries entitled The Mystery of the Brittanic, completing episodes 2, 3 and 4, with Evgeny Tomashov and Sergey Veksler taking turns in the director’s chair. The same company also serviced Bulgarian director Javor Gardev’s Ikariya, a Russian sci-fi thriller based on the myth of Daedalus and Icarus.

Lana Wachowski brought Daryl Hannah and the rest of the Sense8 cast to shoot a special episode of the Netflix series, which was serviced by Pearly Gates. Another key figure, Gabriele Salvatores, filmed parts of Indigo Film and Rai Cinema’s Invisible Boy 2 / Il Ragazzo Invisible: Fratelli, with Valeria Golino. Latina Pictures took care of the shoot in Malta.

The largest foreign production was a retelling of the 1976 hijacking and subsequent rescue in the eponymous Entebbe, with José Padilha (Bus 174, RoboCop) calling the shots, and featuring Rosamund Pike and Daniel Brühl. Pellikola serviced the production for Working Title Films. Another remake, Papillon, brought Charlie Hunnam and Rami Malek to Malta for a five-day shoot in the tanks at Malta Film Studios and at a cliff-side location. Red Granite pictures appointed the Producer’s Creative Partnership, which handled the production with Twenty13.

Schiwago Film and Amour Fou steered Wolfgang Fischer’s Styx towards Malta, filming in open water around the islands, and using the storm generation facilities at Malta Film Studios. Starring Susanne Wolff and Gedion Wekesa Oduor, the film narrates the transformation of a strong woman on a solo sailing trip. Small Island Films took charge of operations in Malta, again in collaboration with Twenty13.

A mini-series based on the 1996 Yohan migrant tragedy, The Ghosts of Portopalo / I Fantasmi di Portopalo, again used the aquatic facilities at MFS. With Beppe Fiorello in the lead, the Picomedia production teamed up with the Producer’s Creative Partnership.

The Mystery of Britannic seriesTelevision series constituted a significant percentage of productions that used Malta as a base for any length of time. Paul Parker handled the Smithsonian Channel and ZDF-backed Warrior Women: The Gladiatrix Episode for Urban Canyons. Katrina Samut-Tagliaferro in turn took care of the Christmas Special for the long-running BBC series Birds of a Feather, featuring Pauline Quirke and Linda Robson. The Bravest / Danmarks Modigste, a large-scale endurance game show produced by Copenhagen-based Mastiff A/S, used the deep-water tank at the MFS as a set in itself, along with several other locations around Malta. Specialist Rock Productions helped make it happen.

Stargate Studios Malta, the key VFX provider in Malta, kept the ball rolling with three substantial jobs. The Embassy / La Embajada extended Stargate’s long-running relationship with Spanish studios, recreating Thailand on a Spanish set for Bambú Producciones. Canada-based Leif Films returned to the company with a work order for two biblical films: Joseph and Mary with Kevin Sorbo and Lara Jean Chorostecki in the lead roles, and The Apostle Peter: Redemption with familiar faces of John Rhys-Davies as Peter and Stephen Baldwin as Nero.

DISTRIBUTION

Rebecca Cremona’s Simshar kept on travelling with screenings in the UK in conjunction with We Are beyond Cinema, and in France with Visiosfeir Distribution. Festivals took the film to Chicago, New York, Leuven, France, Naples, Nice, Stockholm, Prague, Annaba, Zagora, Ashdod, New Delhi, Dubai, Singapore, and Trinidad and Tobago. And in time for the holiday season, the film made it to DVD.

Simshar’s online presence in the US and Canada spread to several networks including iTunes, Xbox, Amazon, Google Play, Time Warner Cable, AMC and the Sundance Channel, some of which made the film available to subscribers in Europe. The film was also picked up by regional networks like the Croatian B.net, Du in Dubai, OTE TV in Greece, MTN in South Africa, CableNet in Cyprus, SBB in Serbia, Solo in Nigeria and Telekom Slovenije.

GRANTS AND LEGISLATION

The Ministry of Tourism, under whose remit falls the Malta Film Commission, launched the first National Film Policy in January 2016, amid criticism that whilst a step in the right direction and inviting discussion on the preservation of film heritage, it did not go far beyond generic statements.

Released after a consultative process launched in the last quarter of 2015, the document assessed the current situation in the servicing industry, the local production situation, and the education possibilities available, making fairly generic forward-looking statements in each case. In particular, the report identified anomalous employment conditions in the servicing industry, particularly with the long hours crews were expected to work, but took a cautious approach in advocating changes.

The Malta Film Fund opened its yearly call in April and distributed 230,914 EUR in funds, split as follows:

Section Number of Projects Total Funds Awarded
Writers’ Grant 1 4,945 EUR
Development Grant 1 30,000 EUR
Production Grant: Short Films, New Talent - -
Production Grant: Short Films 4 75,969 EUR
Production Grant: Feature Films 1 120,000 EUR

 

On the occasion of Malta’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2017 and Valletta’s tenure as European Capital of Culture in 2018, the Film Fund launched a surprise call in August 2016, making a further 250,000 EUR available albeit for production only. Results are expected to be released in February 2017. In conjunction with Arts Council Malta, Malta Film Commission also announced in December the intention to introduce Distribution Support in 2017.

Simshar by Rebecca CremonaUniversity of Malta's Master of Arts in Film Studies programme, funded by the Ministry of Tourism and the Malta Film Commission, saw first films made under the tutorship of Antonio Piazza and Fabio Grassadonia (writer-directors of Salvo, 2013 Grand Prix winner at the Semaine de la Critique), Scott Graham (writer-director of 2012 BAFTA-nominated Shell) and cinematographers Francesco Di Giacomo and Federico Angelucci. Robin Hardy gave a masterclass and presented the restored version of his acclaimed 1973 film The Wicker Man, his last public appearance before passing away in July 2016.

The sophomore edition of the Valletta Film Festival, with the support of the Malta Film Commission, had Sir Alan Parker as its patron, presenting a screening of Midnight Express (1978) in the same location it was filmed in. Jurors Carolina Hellsgard, Cosmina Stratan, Tamer El Said, Valery Rosier and Brontis Jodorowsky selected Måns Månsson’s The Yard as best film, and Laila Pakalnina, Yves Jeanneau and Hrönn Marinósdóttir laurelled Pablo Iraburu and Migueltxo Molina’s Walls as best documentary. Sidebar events included an international conference on the Cinema of Small European Nations.

Arts Council Malta, through its Culture Partnership Agreement, awarded funds for a three-year period to the Film Grain Foundation as organisers of the Valletta Film Festival, to Kinemastik (Kinemastik Short Film Festival) and to the Malta Film Foundation (Malta Short Film Festival).

TV

Malta has nine television channels, two of which are state-owned (TVM, TVM2), two are run by the main political parties (ONE, Net), and the rest are private. Three of the private channels have a General Interest Objectives licence (Smash TV, f Living, Xejk), and the remaining two (iTV, Owners’ Best) are teleshopping channels. The national regulators are the Malta Broadcasting Authority for content and the Malta Communications Authority for matters related to transmission and the service providers.

Transmission is digital and, depending on the provider, via cable, terrestrial wireless, or IPTV. All GIO stations (public and private) are broadcast on a free-to-air platform managed by Public Broadcasting Services Ltd, the national organisation which runs all state-owned broadcast media.

PBS has a public service obligation, for which it was given a budget of 3,900,000 EUR in 2016, and through which it issues a yearly call for programmes of a diverse nature.

Styx by Wolfgang Fischer, Credit: Mark CassarThe National Book Council held its second annual short film contest with PBS, making available 7,000 EUR in production funds and 1,000 EUR in rights, to adapt a Maltese literary work for the screen. The project for 2016 was Il-Kompliċi, directed by Ryan Gatt from a short-story by Walid Nabhan.

Foreign television channels are readily available via cable, satellite and digital terrestrial transmission. And yet, Broadcasting Authority surveys, held thrice yearly, show that TVM, ONE and Net have retained their position at the top of viewership tables. Channels from Italian state broadcaster RAI, as well as Mediaset stations, fill in the subsequent slots, maintaining a long historical tradition of Maltese viewership. Overall, Maltese channels attracted an average of 66.87% of audience share (an increase of 3.05 points over 2015). Missing from the surveys, for reasons of understandable difficulty in quantification, is the number of viewers that in 2016 had taken to watching foreign programming, US series in particular, on un-licensed streaming services on their computers or through Android TV boxes. Netflix reached Maltese shores in January 2016, but statistics for the first year have not been made publicly available.

  February 2016 July 2016 October 2016
Channel Rank Percentage Rank Percentage Rank Percentage
TVM 1 39.05 1 36.56 1 33.47
ONE 2 14.18 2 18.12 2 18.95
Net 4 10.74 4 8.14 5 9.68
Smash 15 0.33 13 0.42 13 0.29
TVM 2 10 2.04 11 1.29 7 2.62
iTV 14 0.39 14 0.41 12 0.31
f Living 11 1.19 12 1.00 10 0.50
Xejk 16 0.33 15 0.19 - -
Owners’ Best - - - - 14 0.14
Parliament TV 17 0.24 - - - -
Sub [%]   68.49   66.15   65.96
Rai Chs. 6, 12, 13 6.61 6, 10, 17 5.54 6 4.21
Mediaset 5, 7, 9 10.40 5, 7, 9 10.16 3 13.38
BBC - - - - 9 1.71
Discovery Chs. 8 2.46 8 2.63 8 2.37
MTV 18 0.20 16 0.12 11 0.46
Other Station 3 11.84 3 15.41 4 11.91
Sub [%]   31.51   33.85   34.04
Total   100   100   100

Source: Malta Broadcasting Authority

 

From the locally-made programming crop, drama remains the most popular format, consistently hitting the topmost slots. Strada Stretta from Sharp Shoot Media, a period series set in a particular Valletta street known for its hedonistic entertainment in Malta’s days as a British Colony, vied for first rank with Ċaqqufa, a series on female empowerment from Watermelon Media.

    February 2016 July 2016 October 2016
Channel Programme Rank Percentage Rank Percentage Rank Percentage
TVM Strada Stretta 1 14.23 2 9.11 1 14.29
TVM Ċaqqufa 2 13.71 1 9.53 - -
TVM Katrina 3 12.13 3 8.39 - -
TVM Ħbieb u Għedewwa 4 8.78 4 8.28 2 11.84
TVM Tereża - - - - 3 9.77

 

CONTACTS:

MALTA FILM COMMISSION
St Rocco Street
Kalkara KKR 9062
Malta
Phone: +356 2180 9135
www.maltafilmcommission.com
Engelbert Grech, Film Commissioner
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Jean Pierre Borg, PR & Marketing Executive
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Warrior Women. Copyright: Urban CanyonsCREATIVE EUROPE DESK MALTA
21, Chateau de la Ville
Archbishop Street
Valletta VLT1443
Malta
Phone: +356 2567 4210
www.creativeeuropemalta.eu
Lisa Gwen Baldacchino, Head
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

ARTS COUNCIL MALTA
Casa Scaglia
16, Mikiel Anton Vassalli Street
Valletta VLT 1311
Phone: + 356 2339 7000
www.artscouncilmalta.org
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Report: Kenneth Scicluna (2017)
Sources: Malta Film Commission, The Times of Malta, The Malta Independent, Malta Today, IMDb, Official Facebook Pages for Simshar, Limestone Cowboy, Filmed in Malta, Stargate Malta, Valletta Film Festival, University of Malta, Arts Council Malta, National Book Council, Malta Broadcasting Authority, Malta Communications Authority, Ministry for Finance.

 


 

Malta Country Profile

By Kenneth Scicluna

VALLETTA: Malta celebrated 90 years of filmmaking in 2015 with several milestones.

Michael Bay’s 13 Hours crowned, in terms of the 50m USD it left behind, a bumper crop of foreign productions that sought to film in Malta, 16 of which benefitted from the Malta Film Commission’s attractive incentive scheme. Other notable names that worked on the island in 2015 include Christian Bale and Oscar Isaac in Terry George’s The Promise, Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz in James Marsh’s The Mercy, and Michael Fassbender in Justin Kurzel’s Assassin’s Creed.

The Ministry for Tourism, responsible for the film commission, launched a draft National Film Policy along with a consultation process that eventually led to a document that was received with mixed feelings.  On the plus side, the MFC also signed agreements with the Malta College for Arts, Science and Technology, as well as the University of Malta, with the aim of creating a strong skill base. In the latter case this led to the launch of a hybrid Master of Arts programme in Film Studies with a practical component. Another initiative by the MFC brought together a crew composed of trainees to create a feature film, 20,000 Reasons, under the tutorship of Film London’s Microwave International programme, which was released locally in 2016.

Rebecca Cremona’s Simshar produced by Kukumajsa Productions Ltd won awards at festivals and gained distribution online in Tunisia and in Australia, and the second feature expected to attract foreign attention, Abigail Mallia’s Limestone Cowboy produced by Take2 Entertainment, entered a long phase of postproduction work. The difficulties of indigenous filmmaking in smaller countries were brought to European attention with a special session at the European Parliament, focussing on Malta and Croatia.

Cinema audiences increased by 8% over the previous year, overwhelmingly opting for US films, with European films getting a lukewarm reception and local productions little more than a sidelong glance overall, even though Simshar was popular with audiences. On the other hand, the Valletta Film Festival got off to a great start with Roland Joffé heading an international jury.

PRODUCTION

Two feature films of note were made in 2015, both with significant involvement from the Malta Film Commission and the Malta Film Fund that it administers. 

Abigail Mallia, a name known locally for above-par television drama, steered her Limestone Cowboy, part-financed with 90,000 EUR from the MFF, into postproduction. Based on a local political dark horse, the film attracted substantial attention throughout its gestation period due to the popularity of the actors featured and the involvement of substantial amounts of extras. Hopes for a 2015 release, teased by the periodic release of production stills, did not materialise however, with the film having its first screening during the 2016 Valletta Film Festival.

Jameson Cucciardi’s 20,000 Reasons, from a script by Malcolm Galea, was the fruit of a long training scheme masterminded by the film commission in conjunction with Film London’s Microwave International programme, and a budget of 200,000 EUR sourced from a European Social Fund scheme. Seeking to bolster skills across the board, the crew benefitted from mentorship throughout the various stages of the process with the film eventually reaching local screens in 2016.

U-Film started work on Dark Waters, a documentary series on wrecks in the Mediterranean, the kind of production uniquely posed to create having a sister company called U-Boat, which specialises in underwater research with the aid of two Triton submersibles.

Returned émigré Mario Philip Azzopardi, known for directing episodes of Star Gate, Dinotopia and Degrassi, produced two television films for Canadian eOne in coproduction with his own Ċittadella Films. Titled A Dangerous Arrangement (starring Tamara Duarte and Colm Meaney) and The Red Dress (with John Rhys-Davies and Once Upon a Time’s Sean Maguire), both films were written by Azzopardi, with the former also having him as director. A large part of the cast on both films was Maltese, with Stargate Malta handling visual effects.

Stargate, a rising VFX star this side of the Mediterranean, with strong support from its parent company in Canada, has helped create another pillar of interest for foreign production companies looking at bringing film work to Malta. Beyond the usual attractions of sunlight on the same latitude as Los Angeles, good weather, a variety of locations, marine facilities, and an affordably talented, multilingual cast and crew, the offer of high-grade value-for-money visual effects has been creating its own particular kind of business, which is no longer dependent on physical locations. In fact, most of the material that Stargate handled in 2015 was shot on location away from Malta. 

On the other hand, their participation in various projects opened a conduit for elements and scenes, sometimes on a fairly large scale, to be filmed in Malta. Some of the company’s larger projects included Pietro Mennea – La Freccia del Sud (Casanova Multimedia, Milk & Honey, Rai Fiction), I Misteri di Laura (Casanova Multimedia, Mediaset), El Principe (Plano a Plano, Mediaset España), Medici: Masters of Florence (Wild Bunch, Big Light, Lux Vide – with Dustin Hoffman), and You, Me and the Apocalypse (Working Title TV, Big Balls Films, Sky, NBC – with Jenna Fischer and Rob Lowe).

Italy has long found Malta a convenient location for its television series and acclaimed leading man Raoul Bova headed back to produce and star in Fuoco Amico: TF45 (RB Productions), which was serviced by veteran company White Coral Films.

The traditional servicing industry enjoyed an equally prosperous year with several high-profile and lucrative productions spending long periods, and large amounts of cash, on the island.

Latina Pictures serviced Michael Bay’s 13 Hours, which saw the construction of a sprawling set making Malta stand for Benghazi, a hectic six-month schedule and the injection of 50m USD into the local economy. Latina also handled Justin Kurzel’s Assassin’s Creed, with Michael Fassbender, which filmed in Valletta on a closely guarded set.

Falkun Films handled Terry George’s film on the Armenian genocide, The Promise, with Charlotte Le Bon, Christian Bale and Oscar Isaac in lead roles, with Valletta this time standing in for Istanbul. The same company also facilitated the production of Stephen Quale’s The Lake with JK Simmons and Diarmaid Murtagh, which made extensive use of the aquatic facilities at the Malta Film Studios.

Russian director Yuriy Moroz brought leading man Maksim Matveyev to Malta to resume his eponymous role in the high-octane series The Gambler. U-Film provided the services, in keeping with the special relationship the company enjoys with the Russian film and television market.

Belgian company Studio 100 returned to Malta to shoot a film, with the assistance of Parker Film & TV, and featuring two characters highly popular with audiences in Flemish Belgium and the Netherlands: Mega Mindy vs Rox.

Small Island Films took care of Philippe de Chauveron’s Débarquement Immédiat!, whilst Twenty13 handled The Mercy, the Donald Donald Crowhurst project directed by James Marsh and featuring Rachel Weisz and Colin Firth.

DISTRIBUTION

Rebecca Cremona’s Simshar went from strength to strength in 2015, a feat remarkable not least because it was the first indigenous film to travel as far, as rapidly, and with as much acclaim as it did.

After finishing 2014 as the most popular Maltese film in local cinemas, and one of the two most popular films overall, Simshar made it again to local screens with a presence spanning the whole year from January to December. The film made it into the official selection of various festivals in Europe, America, Asia and Africa, winning Silver at the California Film Awards, the Silver Dhow at Zanzibar, the Golden Aphrodite at the Cyprus International Film Festival, Best International Feature at Edmonton in Canada, and the Best Director award at Agadir in Morocco.

The true breakthrough came in September 2015 with the general release in Australian cinemas through The Backlot Films, and in Tunisia via Hakka Distribution. Extended several times, the runs lasted until November 2015 down-under and till December 2015 in Tunisia.  Gravitas Ventures acquired the rights for the US and Canada and released it in November 2015 on the major VOD channels, including iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Time Warner Cable and Comcast.

FILM INSTITUTIONS

In March 2015, the Ministry of Tourism, under whose remit the Malta Film Commission falls, announced the appointment of a consultative council to draft the first national film policy, although the names of those involved were not made public. In September 2015 the draft document was released and a public consultation process launched until October 2015. 

The document assessed the current situation in the film services industry, the local production situation, and the education possibilities available, making fairly generic forward-looking statements in each case. In particular, the report identified anomalous employment conditions in the services industry, particularly with the long hours crew were expected to work, but took a cautious approach in advocating changes. 

The final report was released in January 2016, attracting criticism that, whilst it was a step in the right direction and it cast a glance at the need for a discussion on the preservation of film heritage, it did not go far beyond the generic statements of the draft document.

The Malta Film Fund distributed 243,000 EUR in funds, split as follows:

Section Number of Projects Total Funds Awarded
Writers’ Grant 3 12,400 EUR
Development Grant 1 25,000 EUR
Production Grant: Short Films, New Talent 2 5,000 EUR
Production Grant: Short Films 1 16,000 EUR
Production Grant: Feature Films 3 185,000 EUR

In a drive to bolster film education in Malta, hitherto served by first degrees in media and communication studies at the vocational Malta College of Arts, Sciences and Technology, and at the Faculty of Media and Knowledge Sciences at the University of Malta, the Malta Film Commission signed agreements with both institutions. With MCAST, the commission signed a memorandum of understanding, through which Creative Arts students would be given the opportunity to create several featurettes under the mentorship of the film commission in the various elements required to create the clips.

At the University of Malta, the Ministry of Tourism and the film commission funded the Faculty of Arts to assist it in the setting up of a particular MA in Film Studies programme that aims to provide a solid theoretical and practical base in film.  Tutors in the first year included Antonio Piazza and Fabio Grassadonia (writer and directors of Salvo, 2013 Grand Prix winner at the Semaine de la Critique), Scott Graham (writer and director of 2012 Bafta-nominated Shell) and Gigi Roccati (Babylon Sisters, 2016).

The Valletta Film Festival, launched by the Film Grain Foundation, had its first edition in June 2015 and got off to an auspicious start. More than 5,000 tickets were sold for 77 screenings, with master classes also proving popular.

Also in June 2015, Maltese MEP Marlene Mizzi convened a seminar at the European Parliament in Brussels, to discuss the particular problems faced by the smallest filmmaking countries in Europe.  Using Simshar and Dalibor Matanić’s High Sun / Zvizdan (Croatia, Kinorama, kinorama.hr) as test cases, the seminar had Rebecca Cremona, Martina Petrović (Head of the Croatian Creative Europe Desk, Pauline Durand-Vialle (FERA CEO), Engelbert Grech (Malta Film Commissioner), Matteo Zacchetti (Deputy Head, DG Information Society and Media) and European Commissioner Günther Oettinger, as speakers.

The same topic was discussed through aesthetic, practical and academic lenses in September when the itinerant Small Nations Cinema Conference opened its 2015 sessions in Valletta.  Various filmmakers, scholars and practitioners from ancillary arts met to discuss and deliver papers on the particular voices emerging from the smallest filmmaking nations around the world.

Recognising the efforts made during the previous nine decades, Intellect added an edition on Malta to the seminal World Film Locations series, making it the only book to-date to study the productions made in Malta, of local and foreign origin, in relation to the context in which they were filmed.

EXHIBITION AND BOX OFFICE

Ticket sales for Maltese films decreased to 2.9% of total sales in 2015 from 4.2% in 2014.  US films still lead the pack with 79% of seats sold (up from 73% in 2014), with EU films registering a meagre but steady 16%.

A total of 375 different titles were shown, up from 368 in 2014. Attendance overall registered an 8% increase, with ticket sales hitting 704,243 and raking in 4.19m EUR in gross receipts, of which Maltese productions pocketed just 0.1 m EUR. Whereas in 2014 Maltese films attracted the largest audience per film (average of 5,500) and had the greatest exposure (average of 280 screening days), the figures almost halved in 2015 (audience 2,500, screening days 70), losing out to films from the US on audience and hitting a draw on the latter figure.

A winner, in rather relative terms, was the documentary format, climbing up from 121 seats sold for two films, to 5,814 admissions for 15 films. On the other hand, stereoscopic films slid downwards to 9.4% of tickets sold from 12.8%.

TV

Malta has nine television channels, two of which are state-owned (TVM, TVM2), two are run by the main political parties (ONE and Net), and the rest are private. Three of the private channels have a General Interest Objectives licence (Smash TV, f Living, Xejk), and the remaining two (iTV, Owners’ Best) are teleshopping channels. The national regulators are the Malta Broadcasting Authority for content and the Malta Communications Authority for matters related to transmission and the service providers.

Transmission is digital and, depending on the provider, via cable, terrestrial wireless, or IPTV. All GIO stations (public and private) are broadcast on a free-to-air platform managed by Public Broadcasting Services Ltd, the national organisation which runs all state-owned broadcast media.

PBS has a public service obligation for which it was given a budget of 3.9m EUR in 2015, and through which it issues a yearly call for programmes of a diverse nature.

The National Book Council launched an annual short film contest with PBS, making available 7,000 EUR in production funds and 1,000 EUR in rights, to adapt a Maltese literary work for the screen. The first project under the scheme was Dar ir-Rummien, directed by Federico Chini from a short story by Pierre J. Mejlak.

Arts Council Malta announced a scheme of its own with a budget of 280,000 EUR. Kultura TV co-finances culturally-relevant works which may be factual or fiction in nature, one-off films or serialised, as long as they are created in coproduction between one of the private television channels and a local production company. Six proposals out of 18 earned sufficient marks and were allocated a total of 184,456 EUR. Creators of televised series also have the option of applying for financing from the Malta Film Fund, although the latter intimates that they are more interested in pushing for material with international marketing potential.

Foreign television channels are readily available via cable, satellite and digital terrestrial transmission. And yet, Broadcasting Authority surveys, held thrice yearly, show that TVM, ONE and Net have retained their position at the top of viewership tables.

Channels from Italian state broadcaster RAI, as well as Mediaset stations, fill in the subsequent slots, maintaining a long historical tradition of Maltese viewership. Overall, Maltese channels attracted an average of 63.82% of audience share. Missing from the surveys, for reasons of understandable difficulty in quantification, is the number of viewers that in 2015 had taken to watching foreign programming, US series in particular, on un-licensed streaming services on their computers or through Android TV boxes. The only indications of a conjecturally substantial size of clandestine viewership came from debates on social media on series that were otherwise not available in Malta, and from the number of adverts for Android receivers. Netflix was still unavailable in 2015, being released to Maltese viewers in January 2016.

  February 2015 July 2015 October 2015
Channel Rank Percentage Rank Percentage Rank Percentage
TVM 1 36.63 1 34.45 1 39.06
ONE 2 17.52 3 15.90 2 14.88
Net 4 8.09 4 8.05 4 8.73
Smash 16 0.23 13 0.70 12 0.52
TVM 2 11 1.03 12 0.82 9 1.49
iTV 15 0.31 15 0.33 18 0.07
f Living 12 0.73 11 0.88 14 0.37
Xejk - - - - 15 0.20
Owners’ Best - - - - 16 0.15
Sub [%]   64.54   61.44   65.47
Rai 1 6 3.91 7 3.27 6 4.76
Rai 2 8 2.32 10 1.47 11 0.88
Rai 3 14 0.33 14 0.54 13 0.37
Rete 4 10 1.18 9 1.73 10 1.10
Canale 5 5 5.35 5 6.99 5 5.66
Italia 1 7 3.81 6 5.00 7 4.08
Discovery Ch. 9 2.22 8 2.96 8 2.91
MTV 13 0.59 17 0.15 17 0.12
Other Station 3 15.76 2 16.45 3 14.64
Sub [%]   35.46   38.56   34.53
Total   100   100   100

 

From the locally-made programming crop, drama remains the most popular format, consistently hitting the topmost slots. Ċaqqufa, a drama on female empowerment from Watermelon Media vied for first rank with Rewind Productions’ tale on two orphans, Katrina. A drama on a particular Valletta street, known for its hedonistic entertainment in Malta’s days as a British Colony, Strada Stretta from Sharp Shoot Media entered the charts at the fifth slot in October, to quickly climb to the top by February 2016.

    February 2015 July 2015 October 2015
Channel Programme Rank Percentage Rank Percentage Rank Percentage
TVM Ċaqqufa 1 16.09 2 14.63 2 13.84
TVM Katrina 2 13.55 1 15.10 1 14.94
TVM Ħbieb u Għedewwa 4 10.11 4 7.78 4 9.61
TVM Strada Stretta - - - - 5 9.49

 

CONTACTS

MALTA FILM COMMISSION
St Rocco Street
Kalkara KKR 9062
Malta
Phone: +356 2180 9135
www.maltafilmcommission.com
Engelbert Grech, Film Commissioner
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Jean Pierre Borg, PR & Marketing Executive
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

CREATIVE EUROPE DESK MALTA
21, Chateau de la Ville
Archbishop Street
Valletta VLT1443
Malta
Phone: +356 2567 4210
www.creativeeuropemalta.eu
Lisa Gwen Baldacchino, Head
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sources: Malta Film Commission, National Statistics Office, The Times of Malta, The Malta Independent, Malta Today, IMDb, Official Facebook Pages for Simshar, Limestone Cowboy, Filmed in Malta, Stargate Malta, Intellect Ltd, Valletta Film Festival, MCAST, University of Malta, Malta Broadcasting Authority
Report by Kenneth Scicluna