FERA Helmer Istvan Szabo Appeals to Bulgaria’s PM to Support Bulgarian Film Industry

By Pavlina Jeleva

    SOFIA: Federation of European Film Directors (FERA) has thrown its weight behind Bulgarian filmmakers' struggle to stop the watering down of key legislation that guarantees the level of annual support for the Bulgarian film industry. FERA represents film directors in 27 countries throughout Europe.

    FERA (www.filmdirectors.eu) president Istvan Szabo has written to Bulgarian Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, calling on him to honour the deal struck with Bulgarian filmmakers last December which would roll back the amendment to the Film Industry Act. The amendment is presently before the Bulgarian Constitutional court.

    Szabo's letter warned that "the recent fine renaissance of Bulgarian cinema could be easily wiped out" and appealed to the Bulgarian government to "reinstate the Film Industry Act so important for Bulgarian cinema, and to keep film funding separate and secure in order to sustain the modest minimum of 7 films which was agreed".

    The Bulgarian government wants to replace the present system which guarantees a minimum level of annual support with an annual subsidy for film as fixed percentage of the overall budget of the Ministry of Culture. But filmmakers have protested against these changes fearing that they would result in less money for Bulgaria's film industry.

    During a press conference during the recent Sofia International Film Festival (www.siff.bg) cultural vice-minister, Mitko Todorov said that the 2011 budget for public support of the film industry had been increased by nearly € 1.8 million bringing the total support for the year to € 6.9 million. He appealed to the filmmakers to accept the government's offer to subsidize the film industry as a fixed percentage of the overall budget of the Ministry of Culture and added that the Ministry of Culture is expected to have a much higher budget in 2012.

    But the filmmakers have rejected the offer and reminded the government of the agreement struck at the end of last year when PM Boyko Borissov agreed to back the demands of the filmmakers after a series of protests. In an open letter to PM this month the filmmakers called for the government to honour agreements signed with the legislative and the executive authorities on 22 December 2010 aimed at setting up a Bulgarian Cinema Fund and a framework for a National Strategy for the development of Bulgarian culture and film culture in particular.