Czech President Klaus offers some support for film sector


    Czech President Vaclav Klaus, not known as an avid supporter of Czech cinema, now says he would be in favor of "modest support" for the film sector - an opinion that may influence negotiations on next year's state culture budget.

    "Some sort of state support (for film) should exist," Klaus said in an interview published Aug. 31 in the leading Czech daily Lidove noviny. "I would vote for modest support." But he added the board of experts that decides on how to distribute the money must be selected in a sophisticated way.

    Culture Minister Václav Jehlička announced in June that the culture budget, especially state grants, would be slashed to as little as one-fifth of this year's spending plan. Such a cut would not only adversely impact film production but also endanger the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, whose €4 million budget Jehlička has criticized as excessive.

    However, according to recent statements by Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek, some €31 million may be restored to the culture budget for 2008, which would bring it back to the current level.

    The Czech government is committed to increasing cultural funds from the current 0.77 % of the overall state budget up to 1%. The originally planned cuts would have meant a decrease to 0.59% of state expenditures.

    Despite his stand on funding, Klaus voiced dissatisfaction with the industry, describing films by leading directors Zdeněk Svěrák or Jan Hřebejk "too simple, too transparent for me." Of the directors, he added: "They just want the viewers to like them."