The ICA shines a spotlight on the state of Portuguese cinema
by Teresa Vieira
- The Portuguese Film and Audiovisual Institute’s Cinema & Audiovisual from Portugal 2019 publication reveals some interesting facts and figures for 2018
A total of 87 films were produced in Portugal in 2018, according to the Portuguese Film and Audiovisual Institute (ICA)’s Cinema & Audiovisual from Portugal 2019 publication. The first part of the report contains a list of the films produced: 36 fiction titles (22 features and 14 shorts), which include Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote [+see also:
interview: Terry Gilliam
film profile]; 26 documentaries (16 features and ten shorts), which include The Dead and the Others [+see also:
film profile] by João Salaviza and Renée Nader Messora; and 14 short animated films, which include La Vénus au Vélo by Gabriel Abrantes.
Of these 87 films, 78 were supported by the ICA. This is the first time that this annual publication has presented films that weren’t supported by the ICA, as well as movies that have benefited from the new film and TV production cash-rebate system (part of the Fund for Tourism and Cinema, approved in June 2018).
Since the data presented in previous publications only referred to films supported by the ICA, that should logically form the basis of any analysis, and in fact (despite the positive impact of the idea of having 87 films produced), there was only a slight increase in comparison with 2017 (from 77 to 78 national films). The second part of the publication homes in on information regarding distribution and gross box office (GBO), amongst other facts and figures.
There, we can see that, even though there has only been a slight increase in national film production output, there has actually been a significant increase in terms of fiction films (from 35 to 41). The number of animated (short) films produced hasn’t changed in comparison with 2017, and has only slightly increased since 2014 (from four to eight titles). There aren’t any animated feature films included in these figures (which encompass information from 2014-2018), which might explain the ICA’s new funding contest, initiated this year (and for the first time), to support the production of an animated feature film to the tune of €1 million. This is one of the biggest changes in the ICA’s 2019 contest budget, which has been given a €1.7 million boost over the 2018 figure. If we consider the difference between the 2017 and 2018 contest budgets, we see that there was only an increase of €252,089, which might explain the similar overall production figures for those two years. A bigger investment in national film productions will be made in 2019, and this may have a significant impact on national productions in the future, marking a promising start for this year.
But the data presented in the publication, from 2018, are not quite as promising. While there were slight changes in terms of the number of national films supported and produced from 2017-2018, there were significant changes in other figures – and most of them were not overly encouraging.
Overall, there were 900,000 fewer admissions than there were in 2018, there was a decrease in the number of national film releases (from 38 to 34, over the course of one year), and there was also a significant decrease in admissions for local movies (134,954 fewer than in 2017, dropping from 2.6% to 1.9%) – which therefore led to a smaller market share for Portuguese films (a decrease from 2.7% to 1.5% in one year). The top national film was The Dead Queen [+see also:
film profile] by António Ferreira, with 46,717 admissions and a GBO of €184,984.38 – significantly lower than the top national film of 2017, O Fim da Inocência [+see also:
film profile] by Joaquim Leitão, which took 77,198 admissions, generating €415,821.49 worth of revenue. There is an even bigger contrast if we compare it with the top national film of 2015, Leonel Vieira’s The Courtyard of the Ballads [+see also:
film profile] (a remake of a classic Portuguese comedy), which took 603,447 admissions and generated €3,098,051.97. 2015 was a year that saw fantastic admissions (6.5%) and GBO figures, but this was mainly thanks to the release of Vieira’s film, since only 52 national movies were produced that year – and only 27 of those got a release. Therefore, there has been a bigger investment in national film production over the years, but this has not led to an increase in admissions or GBO.
The analysis of this publication raises the question: should there be a more substantial investment in the distribution and exhibition of local films, or has Portugal lost its (possibly already non-existent) national audience for home-grown movies?
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