Latvia passes film law

By Daira Abolina
    Latvia has ratified a film law giving the film industry its own legal framework, after a 15 year long drafting process. The law was passed by the Latvian parliament on June 17.

    The new Film Law ensures the development of the Latvian film industry in support of Latvian film production and distribution, as well as protection, preservation, availability and promotion of film.

    The law defines the concept of Latvian film:. films produced the National Film Center (www.nfc.lv), by an established producer and with at least one key member of the creative team who is a Latvian citizen or has obtained a permanent residence permit. The Latvian Film Law states that the National Film Center administers state-owned film rights and the mandatory state-funded film preservation at the National Archives

    The Law also contains a clause which will stimulate the inflow of foreign funds in the Latvian economy in 2013. The Film Law includes a section on state budget finances in regard to foreign films that are shot in Latvia.

    The financial system which has already taken steps to create the Riga Film Fund will cover the entire country of Latvia. Foreign producers are will have incentives for shooting in Latvia, covering much of the cost of hiring Latvian cinema professionals and other service providers.

    In order to qualify for public funding, a film must meet at least three of six criteria. The criteria covers setting, location, creative team, theme, language, and script. Films must take place primarily in Latvia or another European country, one of the main characters have a connection with Latvia, the director or the screenwriter must be a Latvian citizen or permanent resident or (in the case of the screenwriter) speak Latvian. The film's theme must relate to Latvia, one of the final version must be in Latvian, or film should be based on Latvian literature.

    The Director of the National Film Center Ilze Gailīte Holmberg, whose team led the process of passing the Film Law to a successful conclusion, said, "The Film Law is very important - both in terms of its regulation, as well as for industry self-awareness, a declaration that the film industry, creativity and heritage are an essential part of Latvian culture."

    Preparation and coordination of the Film Law was carried out by National Film Centre and the Ministry of Culture (www.km.gov.lv) in cooperation with the Latvian film industry professionals: the Latvian Filmmakers Union and the Latvian Association of film producers.