Country Focus: Spain
Storm hangs over Spanish cinema
by Sergio Ríos Pérez
28/12/2009 - The river running through the Bethlehem of Spanish cinema is plagued by stormy waters at the end of this year because of a confrontation that could paralyse the Spanish film industry for months. The cause of disagreement is the controversial ministerial order published in October in the BOE (Official Spanish Gazette) by the ICAA, which has earned its director Ignasi Guardans as many supporters as it has bitter opponents. Guardans has made clear his intention to reform the organisation since his appointment in April (see news).
Among his most aggressive opponents is the Filmmakers Against the Order collective, which brings together professionals including Fernando Trueba, Javier Rebollo, Luis Miñarro, Ventura Pons and Isaki Lacuesta, who claim that it threatens “the principles of diversity and cultural exception”.
The main source of friction lies in Guardans’ plan to produce fewer films but with wider circulation (in 2008, 173 features were produced, of which only eight exceeded €2m in takings).
The collective’s written complaint has reached the European Commission, which has decided to block the ministerial order until it has had a chance to study its content. The problem is that the order, published in the BOE, outlines the new film funding system, among other things. Therefore, without the order, there is no funding, since there is no legal framework for a funding application call.
Minister of Culture Ángeles González-Sinde admitted that one immediate consequence will be the delay to some film shoots scheduled for the start of the year. According to Pedro Pérez, president of the Federation of Audiovisual Producers Associations (FAPAE), it could be “a catastrophe for Spanish cinema". The only funding that could be called is amortisation funding for films that have already been released.
However, as director Juan Vicente Córdoba points out, the real problem lies in the image it creates of the sector: "I don’t like the impression we’re giving to our audiences. Instead of talking about films that are triumphing at the box office, such as Agora [trailer] and Cell 211 [trailer, film focus], we’re making a spectacle of ourselves”.