EU Approval Unblocks Czech Film Grants Process


    Czech producers, distributors, cinemas and festivals are rushing to apply for grants from the newest iteration of the state Cinematography Fund following a European Commission ruling Tuesday approving the system's rules. They have been on hold since the beginning of the year, pending the sanctioning of the new Czech film law, implemented in January.

    According to the fund's director, Helena Bezděk-Franková, the organization wants to divide 123 m CZK among new Czech film projects this year, ending an eight-month crisis that has held up dozens of projects. The fund had exceeded the extent of support permitted by the European Union, thus requiring ratification in Brussels before funds could be allocated.

    As in other European countries, new law specifies that Czech film funding be sourced mainly from its 2% tax on commercial TV advertising plus 1% of cinema ticket sales. Together with other lesser sources and depending on the health of the market, the system is expected to bring in around 230 m CZK annually.

    This year's the sum, following the regulatory hangups, is expected to reach just 150 m CZK, which falls short of the level of support sought by segments of the Czech film sector, from production and distribution to festival organization and the digitalization of cinemas.