Jana Karaivanova • Executive director, Bulgarian National Film Centre
"Producers who can secure good projects and partners should be supported the most"
- We follow up on developments in the Bulgarian film industry with Jana Karaivanova, head of the Bulgarian National Film Centre
Cineuropa: The last time we spoke, you highlighted the need for changes in cinema law in Bulgaria. Has there been any progress on this front?
Jana Karaivanova: It's moving very rapidly. At the end of last year, we partially changed the law. The one we had wasn't adapted to the new regimen of the European Commission, so we included the European rulings. But this year, we are working on changing its core rules necessary to run the Bulgarian film industry. It is called "Law for Bulgarian Film Industry" but it was adopted 15 years ago, so it's extremely outdated.
The law was regulating only local production companies, but since 2006, when our biggest studio [Nu Boyana] was privatised, a lot of international productions started coming, investing and shooting on locations in Bulgaria. This created a lot of service companies that are part of the industry, but the law doesn’t recognize their interests. So it's a very interesting situation, and we are working with the Ministry of Culture and the government on creating a law that will take into account the whole industry and its development.
Bulgaria is the last EU country not to have incentives for foreign productions, and we are aiming to adopt a scheme for it. We are fortunate to have the support of the Ministry of Culture and together we are working on a draft law that will now go through all the ministries for their consideration and remarks. We hope to have it adopted by the end of November.
We are also creating a new additional scheme for festivals which at the moment fall under de minimis regulation.
What are the specifics of the production scheme?
We managed to increase the budget from the government by BGN 1.5 million (€767,000) for funding in 2019. This year, I allocated more funding for our low budget films, with a total budget of up to BGN 600,000. Our analysis shows that these films were the most successful at film festivals, and some of them worked well with audiences as well. It seems that people who work with less money are very skilled in finding funding from other sources.
I also doubled the funding for project development and increased the amount for international co-productions.
We still need more money for our big budget films which are, at the moment, underfunded and not sufficient in number of annual production.
In my opinion, producers who know how to secure good projects, partners and co-producers should be supported the most. Every funding they secure also means investments for our country and this is the oxygen of the system. That's why I hope the incentives scheme will be accepted.
What is the state of exhibition in Bulgaria? Is there room for European and independent arthouse films?
Most of the small arthouse theatres would disappear without state support. Our exhibition scheme includes subsidies to cinemas who exhibit European and Bulgarian content. Currently, there is a formula by which they apply for funding based on the number of seats. But because we are trying to support theatres that are doing their best to attract audiences, we now propose to support them based on the number of tickets they sold, making it more real.
We are still trying to get rid of the virtual print fee (VPF) for distributors, this prevents them from putting independent films on a large number of screens. But it's a complicated situation, the government money cannot go to private exhibitors, so we are trying to find a way.
This year is shaping up to be very successful for Bulgarian cinema internationally.
Yes, I am very proud of it. The Father [+see also:
interview: GoCritic! Interview: Kristi…
interview: Kristina Grozeva, Petar Val…
film profile] won the Crystal Globe at Karlovy Vary, and we have films competing in major festivals - Cat in the Wall [+see also:
interview: Mina Mileva, Vesela Kazakova
film profile] at Locarno, Rounds [+see also:
interview: Stephan Komandarev
film profile] premiered at Sarajevo and won two awards, the minority co-production Pelican Blood [+see also:
interview: Katrin Gebbe
film profile] opened the Orizzonti section at Venice, and Sister is in the New Directors competition at San Sebastian.
And it is very uplifting for me personally. Before I was appointed the head of the Film Centre, I was on the selection committee that approved funding for some of these projects. Seeing them on the screen justifies the confidence we had in them. It proves once again that talented people should be supported to the best of our abilities. It also proves that the system works even if it's not perfect. I hope that with the proposed changes, we will make it better.
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