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In 2009 the Slovak film industry saw one of its most relevant transitions: the creation of an independent audiovisual funding body.

On November 5, 2008, Act 516/2008 Coll. on the Audiovisual Fund and the Amendment of Certain Acts was adopted, which went into effect on January 1, 2009.

In practical terms, it meant that the six-year-old Audiovisual programme at the Ministry of Culture which granted the film subsidies was ending. " The Ministry of Culture will be from now on just one of the supporters. It takes hands off the new fund, since the fund will be an independent institution," said Anton Škreko, the director of Audiovisual programme at the Ministry of Culture.

During the year-long transition phase, the grant system has functioned under different conditions - the nine member grant commission assessed projects from only single round over two sessions, meaning that in 2008 it assessed projects from two rounds in four sessions.

Nataša Slavikova, the general director at the department of Media, Audiovision and Copyright states that 4,179,450 Euro was granted this year to 104 projects out of 170 that applied for the grants. In 2008, 4,271,626 Euro was granted. From January 1, 2010 the subsidies will be granted by the Audiovisual Fund.

The two largest grants went to the films Visible World (410,000 Euro), and Cherrie Boy (380 000 Euro), both produced by JMB Film and TV production (http://www.jmbfilm.sk/).

The new Audiovisual Fund has six committees officially announced on November 25.

The Audiovisual Fund accepts applications beginning November 30, 2009. Deadlines are 15.12.2009, 1.3.2010 and 1.9.2010.

The website http://www.avf.sk/ is under construction. Information can be found at the website of the Ministry of Culture, http://www.filmneweurope.com/www.culture.gov.sk.

While commercial Slovak television, led by CME's Markiza TV, has seen a dramatic downturn in advertising revenues due to the global economic crisis, the Slovak film industry has so far been unaffected.

Subsidies from Audiovisual programme at the Ministry of Culture were comparable to 2008 (4.3 million Euro in 2008 and 4.2 million Euro in 2008). Banks have been cautious in extending credit generally. Zuzana Mistrikova, executive vice-president of the Slovak Film Academy told FNE, "Except for Bathory, banks are not lending money to film producers at all."

Alexandra Strelkova, director of the National Film Centre, told FNE, "Bank credits for film companies are not standard in the Slovak film industry."

However Mistrikova sees the influence of the financial crisis looming in 2010. "The first contributions from television broadcasters, cable operators, cinema entrepreneurs and film distributors to the new AudioVisual Fund will be in 2010. Revenue from TV advertising has decreased because of the financial crisis so their contributions to the fund will not probably reach the levels expected a year ago," Mistrikova said.

Slovaks have cut back their spending generally in 2009 but surprisingly the Slovak box office experienced a very good year. During the first seven months there were 2.35 million admissions compared with 1.75 million for the same period in 2008, a 34% increase, according to the Slovak Union of Distributors (http://www.ufd.sk/). Among the box office hits was the Slovak film Soul at Peace, which premiered in January and had 115,000 admissions.

The so called "Bathory effect" caused an increased interest in Slovak films that result in notably higher attendance than in the past.

Contact information:

UFD SR
tel.: +421 (0)2 4914 0030 - 36, fax: +421 (0)2 4445 0651, e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Ing. Ivan Sollár (chairman)

http://www.aic.sk/

http://www.sfta.sk/

Audiovisual Fund:

http://www.culture.gov.sk/sekcie/audiovizualny-fond2

For the past nine year, Prague's Institute of Documentary Film has been reaching out to CEE documentary directors and producers, promoting and enabling the rise of documentary films from across the region.

The IDF (http://www.docuinter.net/) encompasses four main areas of activities:

Ex Oriente is a workshop for selected producers and directors to help them develop and pitch their projects in forums dedicated to documentary films. The workshop takes place over the course of one year, as tutors work with filmmakers in three intense workshops, culminating in their presentation at the East European Forum.

East European Forum is a pitching session that takes place within the framework of the Jihlava documentary film festival at the end of October. Commissioning editors from stations across Europe and North America and beyond respond to the pitches and meet with filmmakers in one-to-one sessions.

East Silver is a market of documentary films from across Central and Eastern Europe, taking place at the Jihlava festival. East Silver extablished its own awards -- the Silver Eye -- for the first time in 2009, which were chosen and announced at the closing ceremony in Jihlava. Filmmakers attending Jihlava are invited to special breakfast meetings with representatives of several European national industries. Films are presented in a catalog distributed at festivals, and are made available to industry professionals via a video library.

Docu Talents from th East is a presentations of nine new completed documentaries held during the Karlovy Vary Film Festival for festival programmers and industry professionals.

In addition, IDF sends select filmmakers to pitching forums held in Leipzig and Amsterdam, where they have a chance to attend workshops or pitch films. The Institute also hosts a panel and catalog of upcoming Czech documentaries.

The IDF is run by a team of six dedicated Czech women, led by IDF DirectorAndrea Prenghyová.

Contact information:

Institute of Documentary Film

Školská 12110 00

Praha 1, Czech Republic

Phone:+420 224 214 858

Fax:+420 224 214 858

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Web: http://www.docuinter.net/

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PÖFF's main programme comprises 220 feature films from 74 countries. The international competition programme EurAsia, held for the sixth year, features 20 films from Europe and Asia.

The Czech Republic has seen big budget foreign productions mostly dry up in 2009 following a long decline. In 2003, Hollywood and European filmmakers spent more than 5 bilion crowns in the Czech Republic. In 2008, the amount of the foreign investments dropped to only CZK 700 million as Hollywood production move to Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and even the Ukraine driven away by the Czech Republic's lack of tax incentives.

In numerous European countries and American states, Hollywood filmmakers can expect a rebate of up to 20% of every euro spent in that territory.

"We love the Czech Republic for its exteriors and its filmmakers. But the problem of tax incentives becomes more and more important for every big Hollywood production, including Narnia," Mark Johnson, executive producer of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, said to FNE last year. Walt Disney´s $200 million smash hit by director Andrew Adamson, shot and produced in New Zealand, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic in 2007-2008, was one of the last big budget Hollywood productions shot in Czech Republic. The third part of the Narnia series is not coming back to Czech Republic.

In late October, the Czech approved a proposal for a tax incentive system in 2010, with a rebate of up to 20% of the amount spent in the country. The Czech Ministry of Culture (ww.mkcr.cz) has budgeted 400 million CZK for rebates in 2010 which is awaiting final approval and could go into effect as soon as January 2010.

Domestic films, particularly comedies, continued to outperform Hollywood at the box office in 2009.

On average 20-25 Czech full length feature films are released in Czech cinemas, most are supported by grants from the Czech Ministry of Culture´s State fund for support and development of cinematography. In 2009 support for film production and distribution was CZK 222.6 m about the same as in 2008.

Protector, the big-budget war drama and Oscar entry by director Marek Najbrt and produced by Negativ company (www.negativ.cz), received one of the largest grants: 16 m CZK for its 65m CZK budget.

Lidice the 70m CZK second war drama now in production, by director Alice Nellis and produced by Bioscop (www.bioscop.cz), received a grant of 20m CZK.

In 2009 several animation features were produced. Fimfarum 3 by directors Vlasta Pospíšilová, Kristina Dufková and David Súkup which received a 5m CZK grant, and The Little Fishgirl by director Jan Balej, that received a record 10m CZK grant for animation. Both movies are produced by Maur film (www.maurfilm.cz).

Among the most successful Czech films in 2009 were Czech comedies, such as Grapes 2 by director Vlad Lanné and production company Bioscop with 300,000 admissions after five weeks and You Kiss like God by director Marie Poledňáková and produced by Falcon (www.falcon.cz), with 950,000 admissions.

 1 What was the most important development in the Polish film industry over the past year?

Since the establishment of the Polish Film Institute in autumn of 2005 the Polish film industry has been doing better year by year. The number of films supported by PISF is increasing annually, including the number of coproductions. Cinema attendance is growing and the overall outlook and perspective for the Polish film industry is highly optimistic.

The last Festival of Polish Films in Gdynia revealed that new generation of young directors had found their way into the hearts of the press, the jury and the audience. The winner of 11 awards, "Revers", already has almost 150.000 admissions.

2 How important are European coproductions for the development of the Polish film industry and what opportunities do you see for cooperation with neighbouring countries in film production, education and distribution.

The average level of international coproductions is 30% per year. Among them are such significant films as "33 scenes from life" by Małgorzata Szumowska and "4 nights with Anna" by Jerzy Skolimowski and "Janosik" by Agnieszka Holland. Those films were coproduced with well established French, German and east European companies which has been crucial to the international distribution and success of the films at festivals. A better presence and visibility of Polish films in Europe is one of the benefits of international coproductions. However, we think that there is still a big potential in international coproductions in Poland since the best films are not necessarily the ones internationally co-roduced. As the last festival in Gdynia has shown, the most successful films of young directors, the new talents of the Polish cinematography, are mostly Polish productions. It is the case of "Reverse" by Borys Lankosz, "Zero" by Paweł Borowski, "Dark House" by Wojtek Smarzowski and "Las" by Piotr Dumała.

It is true that Polish coproductions are mostly and naturally made with the neighboring countries. The main partner is Germany. Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Lithuania, Ukraine and even Belarus are also present. As to other countries, France, Sweden, Denmark and the USA should be mentioned.

The Polish Film Institute enhances the participation of Polish companies as a minority partner. European films are not only shot in Poland ("Whirlwind", "Robert Mitchum is Dead", "Woman that Dreamed of a Man"). Post-production studios on the highest technical and artistic level attract big productions in fiction and animation. Special effects for "Anichrist" were made in Warsaw by the Studio Platige Image. Alvernia - one of the biggest and best equipped studios in Europe - has newly opened its doors to the biggest European and US productions.

3 What is the role of film in the Polish cultural identity?

Film has always been important for Poles. Until 1989 Polish directors had researched new ways of storytelling to hide important massages in the times of censorship. Wajda, Kieslowski, Zanussi became masters and their characters became moral figures for many people in Poland. After 1989 filmmakers started to look for a new film language to communicate with the audience. Without boundaries they could talk about everything. But it took some time to reveal their own film language. The authors such as: Krzysztof Krauze, Jan Jakub Kolski, Andrzej Jakimowski, Jacek Borcuch, Sławomir Fabicki have found their way to the audience with their very special narrative speech.

4 How does the recognition of Polish film internationally promote not only the Polish film but also Poland as a country?

This is something we cannot measure in numbers but this kind of promotion is irreplaceable. Films like "General Nil" by Ryszard Bugajski, "Spring 1941" by Uri Barbash, "Katyń" by Andrzej Wajda, "Popiełuszko" by Rafał Wieczyński screened abroad spread the overall knowledge about Polish history. On the other hand films like "Tricks" by Andrzej Jakimowski, "Zero" by Paweł Borowski based in contemporary Poland show that Poles are very much like Germans, French, Czech, British...

5 Looking back over the past five years what are the major achievements and what do you consider still needs to be done?

Still, after nearly 5 years since establishing the Polish Film Institute I find this Institution the major achievement. Bringing it to life was a difficult task but managing is another challenge. The Polish Film Institute managed to build good working liaisons with its beneficiaries. It takes time, it does not happen automatically, it demands good will for co-operation from both parts. After these successful years PISF wants to be still more efficient. Right now, beginning from the December the 1st , the operational programs are being changed. The biggest changes will be made within the production programs but each program has been changed based upon last years experiences. Cinematography is a living organism of directors, producers, actors, writers and many others. PISF is willing to see their needs and answer them. Our goal is to make more and better films well received both in Poland and abroad, isn't what we're all looking for?