FNE AVP Live! : CEE Culture Ministers Seek New Funding Sources for Film


    EDINBURGH: Representatives from the Ministries of Culture of six of the newest EU and CEE countries have said there is a need to support coproductions and to find new sources of funding in future to support their film industries.

    The ministers confirmed that there should be an emphasis on coproductions is a priority for CEE territories, with recognition of the need to fund not only national or majority productions, but minority coproductions as well. Ongoing
    austerity measures have hindered adequate film funding in most territories, leaving the ministries striving for new strategies and sources of funds for films.

    The Ministers were attending the first Edinburgh International Cultural Summit, held in the Scottish capital on 13-14 August 2012. FNE spoke exclusively with Culture Ministers from Croatia, Estonia, Romania and Slovenia regarding film funding strategy over the next two years.

    “Funds are definitely not sufficient,” the Estonian Minister of Culture (www.kul.ee) Rein Lang told FNE. “Supporting and increasing funds for production is a priority.” Estonia’s goal, he added, is to produce a minimum of 10 films annually, an amount deemed necessary for achieving international recognition that the Estonian film industry craves.

    “We are now in the process of devising a strategy,” Ragnar Siil, Estonia’s Undersecretary for Fine Arts, told FNE. The Ministry is cautious in its consideration of taxing cinema admissions, something that is unlikely to happen in the next two years. Instead, they will concentrate on directing EU funds into film production and place an emphasis on coproductions and marketing. The results of 2011 have impacted the Ministry’s focus on film. With 12 films produced in 2011, admissions reached 2.4 million, a healthy amount for the country of just 1.3 million, and the market share for domestic films jumped to nearly 10 percent. The Ministry expects 12 or 13 Estonian films to be produced in 2012.

    Slovenia, with a population only slightly larger, at 2 million, is putting 3.7 m EUR into film in 2012, but looking for alternative means of supporting film production. “I’m talking intensely with people from the film industry on how to help,”

    Ziga Turk, Slovenia’s Minister for Education, Science, Culture and Sports (www.mizks.gov.si), told FNE. That could include tax breaks for foreign film productions and a royalty scheme for TV and internet, as well as encouraging the national TV station to increase its film production. “The untapped reserve is the funding that goes to national TV in 2013,” Turk said.

    The Ministry is also encouraging an increase in coproductions with EU countries and Balkan neighbors. “Internationalizing is one of the ways of pushing forward,” Turk said. On a practical managerial level, the Ministry is considering combining the organizational and technical aspects of Viba film studio (www.vibafilm.si) and the Slovenian Film Center (www.film-center.si).

    Romania, whose film industry has flourished with international recognition while languishing domestically, is also looking at increasing its film funding. Romanian Minister of Culture and Patrimony (www.cultura.ro) Puiu Hasotti told FNE that there are plans to introduce a national lottery law which would allocate a portion of its funds for film.

    Croatia’s Deputy Minister for Culture (www.min-kulture.hr) Berislav Sipus told FNE that Croatia has two priorities for the film industry. On the international side, Croatia is looking at increased funding for the new film rebate programme, raising the current 600,000 EUR cap. On the domestic side, the Ministry wants to increase the funding for independent Croatian films. Sipus noted that the Croatian Audiovisual Center (www.havc.hr) recently supported postproduction funding for two of the four independent films screened at the 2012 Pula Film Festival (www.pulafilmfestival.hr).

    The Edinburgh International Cultural Summit, held in the Scottish Parliament, is the brainchild of Edinburgh International Festival director and chief executive Jonathan Mills. The programme included presentations on private and public support for culture and policy discussions on funding. Participants expressed surprise that it was the very first international meeting of cultural representatives worldwide, while encouraging Scotland to continue hosting the summit on an annual basis.