José Pedro Ribeiro • President of ICAM
"More promotion and more involvement from TV channels"
by Vitor Pinto
Hermetic, designed for intellectual elites, too close to literature works: Portuguese cinema has suffered from several clichés for years, contributing to a gap between domestic production and its public. However – and despite the general apparent indifference of the public – something seems to be changing in the local film landscape. Since last year audiences have been reacting positively, not only to openly commercial films, such as O crime do Padre Amaro [+see also:
film profile], but also to more art-house-driven titles, such as Alice [+see also:
interview: Marco Martins
interview: Nuno Lopes
film profile] by Marco Martins or Bad Blood [+see also:
film profile] by Tiago Guedes and Federico Serra. It was in this positive context that José Pedro Ribeiro assumed the Presidency of the Institute of Cinema, Audiovisual and Multimedia (ICAM) six months ago. Although Ribeiro now prefers not to comment on the institute's new management, he does gives some insights about how to attract new audiences and tells us about the recent agreement signed with ICAA, aiming to increase the visibility of Portuguese and Spanish productions in the two countries.
Cineuropa: How do things stand after your first months as ICAM president?
José Pedro Ribeiro: I guess that’s for others to judge, not the management of ICAM. However, I must say the ICAM team is extremely committed to reaching a higher level of recognition for Portuguese film and increasing its importance, both at national and international level.
A survey published last year mentioned an attitude of indifference of local audiences towards Portuguese film. What can be done to counter this trend? How is it possible to attract and keep audiences?
I guess the key words are more promotion and more involvement from TV channels, especially from public broadcaster RTP, which so far has had a couldn’t-care-less attitude towards Portuguese film.
Is it really possible to build up a film industry in such a small territory?
Industry is a big word, but I believe it is possible to create a more productive and lucrative sector that employs more people.
Co-producing is probably the best option for small territories. Who are Portugal's major partners?
Spain and France, mainly. Portugal also takes part in programmes and international funds, such as Eurimages and Ibermedia.
What can you tell us about the recent agreement signed between Portugal's ICAM and Spain's ICAA?
This agreement is an important step towards increased participation between the two countries and has been pushed by a wish to enhance cooperation, and the development and the expansion of film productions from both countries. The agreement aims at supporting distribution and regular promotion of Portuguese and Spanish films in both territories. Distribution companies will be the target of the support.
Which films from young and talented Portuguese directors will be more likely to be shown abroad?
There are several young filmmakers and some of them have already made films which are essential to Portugal's film history, while some others have directed short films and documentaries which won awards at international festivals. But I’d rather not mention any names.
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