Eastern Europe is making great strides in the upgrade to digital television, according to a new report by the London-based research company Informa Telecoms & Media, which predicts the number of households in the region with digital TV will rise nearly fivefold within six years.
Just as the Czech film fund recently faced a budget cut that still needs to be fully resolved, the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival is also suffering a budget cut, according to the Czech newspaper Mlada Fronta Dnes.
Multimedia Polska, a leading Polish provider of “triple play” packages of TV, voice and broadband internet service, has acquired 15 cable TV networks in northern Poland for 40.9 million zloties (€10.7 million).
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.
MARKET 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.
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.
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.
In 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.
Known 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.
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.
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.
Forum 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.
EXHIBITION 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.
The 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.
Three 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.
In 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.
Nine 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.
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.
On 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.
BULGARIAN NATIONAL TELEVISIONGeneral Director: Konstantin Kamenarov29, 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
The 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.
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.
Smuggling 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.
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.
The 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.
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.
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.
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.
Local TV channels are: Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation (CyBC 1, 2, HD and Sat), Sigma TV, TV 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.
REPUBLIC OF CYPRUS – MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND CULTURECultural Services27 Ifigenias Street2007 Strovolos – Nicosia, CyprusPhone: +357 22 809 811Fax: +357 22 809 873http://filmingincyprus.gov.cy/ http://www.moec.gov.cy/en/
Report by Maria Gregoriou (2018)Sources: the Ministry of Education and Culture
Czech 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.
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..
There 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.
Other 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).
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.
The 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.
Little 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.
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 .
A 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.
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.
The 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.
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 NOVA, NOVA 2, NOVA Cinema, NOVA Action, NOVA Gold, NOVA Sport and NOVA Sport 2.
Prima group consists of Prima Family, Prima COOL, Prima LOVE, Prima ZOOM, new Prima MAX and Prima Comedy.
TV 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.
Report by Denisa Strbova (2018)Sources: the Czech Film Fund, the Czech Film Center, the Czech Film Commission, the Film Distributor´s Union
Estonian 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.
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, 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 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.
The 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.
Mihkel, 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.
The 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.
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.
A 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.
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.
Domestic 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.
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).
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.
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.
ESTONIAN SOCIETY OF CINEMATOGRAPHERS ESCwww.esc.edicypages.com/et
Report by Leana Jalukse (2018)Sources: Estonian Film Institute, Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Estonian Ministry of Culture
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