Country Focus: Portugal
Directors and producers launch petition to save local industry
by Vitor Pinto
18/03/2010 - A group of Portuguese directors and producers has launched a public petition asking Minister of Culture Gabriela Canavilhas for immediate intervention to save Portuguese cinema from its current “imminent catastrophic situation”.
The text openly criticizes the Cinema and Audiovisual Investment Fund (FICA), which is seen as dysfunctional, and described as paralysed and having its hands tied by broadcasters and the Group Zon Lusomundo.
FICA, which combines funds from broadcasters, cable TV operators and the Ministry of Economy, was created in 2007 with a five-year budget of €83m. But only a small part of that has been invested so far.
Allegedly unsatisfactory management of resources became the target of several critics and ultimately led to the Ministry of Culture’s recent decision to remove ESAF-Fundos Mobiliários (part of Grupo BES), from the management of FICA. National film board ICA (Instituto do Cinema e do Audiovisual) is now in charge of a public consultation to find a new management entity for the Fund.
Other petition points include a demand for increased financing resources for ICA; greater support to independent distributors and exhibitors, so that local, European and independent films can reach larger audiences; and, lastly, public broadcaster RTP is asked to respect the signed contract with the Portuguese government regarding its duties to produce and exhibit local and independent cinema.
The petition was signed by a multigenerational group of directors, from veteran Manoel de Oliveira to 26-year-old João Salaviza, whose Arena won the Palme d’Or for Short Film at the latest Cannes Film Festival. Petitioning producers include Maria João Mayer (Filmes do Tejo), Pedro Borges (Midas Filmes) and João Trabulo (Periferia Filmes), among others.
To read the full petition (in Portuguese), please click here.