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Latvian Filmmakers Support the Independent Status of the National Film Centre of Latvia

Press releases 2009-08-19

On 12th of August, about 200 Latvian film professionals carried out a unique support action defending the independent legal status of the National Film Centre of Latvia (NFC). Latvian filmmakers insisted on film industry free from any political influence, thus protesting against the reform plan presented by Latvian State Chancellery on re-organization of the NFC into a department of the Ministry of Culture.

During the discussions between Latvian film representatives and Mr. Ints Dalderis, the Minister of Culture, Latvian filmmakers created a film set around the building of Ministry of Culture and shot a short film titled „The Dream of Eisenstein" (referring to the world known filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein who was born in Riga) to remind the Minister about the significance of film arts as creative expression and part of cultural identity.

For the first time in the independent Latvia, filmmakers working in different studios and usually seeing each other as competitors for the state funding, were standing together united in a film set with an aim to defend the independence of the Latvian film industry. This support action was financed from the private means of filmmakers. Leading Latvian filmmakers and actors participated in the action, including Laila Pakalnina, Gints Berzins, Jurgis Krasons, Vladimir Leschiov, Signe Baumane, Ivars Seleckis, Antra Cilinska, Uldis Dumpis, Rezija Kalnina and others.

At the end of the meeting Minister of Culture Mr. Ints Dalderis announced that taking in account the significant work done by the NFC for the development of Latvian film industry, it could continue to work as an independent institution changing its legal status from the state agency to state budget institution

However, the final decision will be taken by Latvian government.

During the reorganization of the NFC it has to cut several of the currently existing functions such as the Film Registry and Riga Film Museum. In the coming two days, the management of Latvian Film centre has to prepare a reduced budget for a smaller NFC.

Several European film industry organizations such as EFAD (European Film Agency Directors) and European Council of Artists have already expressed their support for the NFC and criticized plans to reduce the independence of the institution.

Tue Steen Müller, documentary film expert and former director of European Documentary Network writes: „As one who has followed the Latvian film since the independence, I can only admire the work done by committed and clever people in and around the Film Centre. A well functioning, independent film institutional structure has been established, that serves the many fine film directors and producers from a country that especially in the documentary sector has long and proud traditions. (..) Anyone can understand that cuts are needed in times of financial crisis, but to destroy an independent structure that represents a country with such competence is political narrow-minded thinking." (www.filmkommentaren.dk)