Portuguese cinema in a state of emergency
by Vitor Pinto
07/05/2012 - Directors Miguel Gomes (Tabu [trailer, film focus]), João Canijo (Blood of My Blood), Gonçalo Tocha (It’s The Earth, not the Moon),João Pedro Rodrigues (To Die Like a Man [trailer]), João Salaviza (Rafa), as well as producers Luís Urbano (O Som e a Fúria) and Pedro Borges (Midas Filmes) are among 21 film professionals to have signed a petition called “Portuguese cinema: an ultimatum to the government”. The document contains four demands to improve the current “dramatic situation” of the country’s film sector.
“After 10 months of government,” marked by cuts and quasi-religious austerity, “Portuguese cinema’s life is at risk,” have declared its signatories. Despite the international awards recently won by several films and a new internal effervescence, especially in the implementation of alternative distribution strategies, production is paralysed. The ICA’s aid announcements have been blocked since the beginning of the year, and subsidies approved in 2010 and 2011 have still not been allocated to their beneficiaries.
“Part of [Portugal’s] production companies are on the verge of closing down,” warns the document.
The petition also criticised progress on the new cinema law, “a promise yet to be fulfilled”, for which the public consultation period came to an end on April 30 after being prolonged on two occasions. The signatories highlight continuous delays in passing the law, although this is denied by the State Department for Culture, according to whom the whole legislative process should be over by the end of July.
This situation has led Portugal’s film sector professionals to make the following four demands:
1 – The government must find an emergency solution for the ICA’s current state of financial crisis so that it has the financial means necessary to live up to its commitments to producers and other approved entities for 2010 and 2011.
2 – Standardisation of 2011 announcements by the State Department for Culture, and their contractual formalisation by the ICA
3 – Release of the definitive version of the new law, and announcement of the date for its approval by government and subsequent presentation to Parliament
4 – The new law will have to make “contributions and investments from all companies operating in the film and audiovisual market” official and reinforce “rules for public money allocation to cinema through public competitions with independent juries”.