Bulgarian film industry faces drastic cuts

By Pavlina Jeleva
    The Bulgarian government is proposing a 57% cut in public funding for the national film industry, prompting an official protest by the National Film Council.

    As the officially elected body of the Bulgarian National Film Center (www.nfc.bg) and legally representing the film community, the National Film Council wrote a January 7, 2010, declaration to Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov. The Council stated that the decrease of public support in 2010 violates the Film Industry Act. It follows an unannounced 2009 decrease of 30% in public support. Thus, "The 2009 State Budget of the Republic of Bulgaria Act is violated too," the letter stated. Warning the government that, "The film industry will be returned to its position of seven years ago," the Council also underlines that the situation will create the "impossibility to fulfill engagements with foreign partners" and will "deteriorate Bulgaria's image as a member of the European Union."

    The declaration follows the dramatic open letter of November 17, 2009, by the Union of the Bulgarian Film Makers to all major Bulgarian institutions and FERA president István Szabó's November 23, 2009, letter to the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture, declaring strong European support for the Bulgarian film community's cause.

    At a meeting between Borissov and representatives of the artists' unions on December 2, 2009, an official promise for "adjustment of the state subsidy" was made.

    In the mean time a statistical study the Director of the Observatory of Cultural Economics Diana Andreeva gave clear evidence that from 2005 the public support for the film sector was regularly not respected. She found that to date nearly 10 million Euros due to National Film Center was never transferred to it.

    Seriously worried by a possible lack of follow up of various promises the National Film Council now calls directly on the Prime Minister asking him "to order the enforcement of the laws."