COTTBUS: New film funding opportunities for filmmakers in Central and Eastern Europe are emerging across the region, including backing for minority coproductions which is crucial especially in smaller countries.
Speaking during a panel on film funding at Connecting Cottbus (www.connecting-cottbus.de) panel representatives of funding bodies highlighted the funding available and the strategies they are adopting.
Macedonia is one of the new players which is becoming a real partner in coproductions since it saw a a massive increase in film funding in 2011. Darko Basheski, head of the Macedonian Film Fund (www.filmfund.gov.mk) told FNE that the fund is distributing 4.15 m EUR in 2012 and will have some 4 m EUR in both 2013 and 2014.
“Our basic strategy since the beginning was to support an equal number of majority and minority productions, but we in fact have two more minority coproductions,” he told FNE. Between 2008 and 2012, the fund has awarded grants to 13 majority productions and 15 minority coproductions. The fund next plans to spend more of its budget on promotion and digitalization of cinemas.
Kosovo is emerging as Europe’s newest coproduction partner. Fatos Berisha, director of the Kosovo Cinematography Center (www.qkk-rks.com) told FNE, “We’re looking for small budget films.” The fund has 500,000 EUR for 2012 and will have 600,000 EUR in 2013, but is lobbying to increase the amount to 2 m EUR. It provides up to 50,000 EUR for future films as a minority coproducer, with 60% of that going to local spend. “The best use of the money is for actors or locations,” Berisha said. So far, the fund has given grants to coproductions with Albania, Macedonia, and Holland.
Hungarian Film Fund representative Orsolya Benko said that since it began operations one year ago, the fund has given over 57 development grants, ten production grants, and four post-production grants. The fund has 20 m EUR to distribute, with funding linked to a national lottery system, and will provide up to 90% of the film’s budget with a cap of 500,000 EUR. Some 10% of the films receiving grants are coproductions. One new regulation of the fund, the requirement that a new production company be established for each film, received mixed feedback from Connecting Cottbus participants. Lakoon Film (www.lakoonfilm.com) producer Judit Statler told FNE that the system seems to be working in Hungary.
The Czech Republic will have a minimum of 9 m EUR for film production under the new film act. Jana Cernik, head of development and training for the Czech Film Center (www.filmcenter.cz) said, “We have been waiting for 20 years” for passage of the film act. The film fund will be independent of the Ministry of Culture and will provide funding for development, production, distribution, and promotion, for both majority and minority coproductions. The government is expected to provide 12 m EUR for film tax incentives in 2013. An additional source of funds is anticipated through the new film production department of Czech TV (www.ceska-televize.cz) including funding for minority coproductions.
Lithuania expects to see passage of a film tax incentive programme in early 2013, following the recent election of a new government. “At least for tax incentives it will be good,” producer Rasa Miskinyte of Era Film (www.erafilm.lt) told FNE. “It will bring investments.” The film fund, now at 1.5 m EUR, should see a real increase with the tripling of funding going toward national support for culture in 2013. In addition, the new Lithuanian Film Center should be fully functioning by the end of 2012, with the first call for film grants in December 2012 and upgrading to support international coproductions under a more transparent process in 2013.
Outside the CEE region, Germany continues its support of Polish films through a co-development fund established in 2006, and funds targeted for Turkey and Russia since 2011. In Russia, the Russia Cinema Fund began accepting applications from coproductions in 2011, giving grants of 3.5 m EUR to nine coproductions in 2011 and 4.2 m EUR to 11 coproductions in 2012. The films are required to repay 25% of gross receipts to the fund.
The Nordic countries are earmarking funds for minority coproductions. Norway will fund up to 125,000 EUR for long documentaries and feature films. Sweden is setting aside 10% of its funds for minority coproductions under a new agreement.
In May 2012 France introduced its new World Cinema Fund, with 6 m EUR available to filmmakers worldwide. The fund will have four or five selection rounds annually and will give grants to 40 – 60 films. Up to 250,000 EUR is available for production and up to 50,000 EUR for post-production, with 50% of spend in France. Half of the funds will go to first and second feature films. Of 24 projects from CEE submitted to the fund, three films (one each from Hungary, Romania, and the Czech Republic) received support.