The portuguese government wants to pass a law on cinema from which the portuguese film institute (ICAM) would disappear, in its stead being created an investment fund destined to finnancially support films of “great commercial attractiveness”.
The portuguese film makers have written the following manifesto.
It is very important for us that everyone who is, by passion or proffession, atached to the art of cinema and that agrees with this text give us their support.
For that purpose, all you have to do is to reply to this message with your name, proffession, city and country (and, if possible, a contact) or to send a mail to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for forwarding this message so that we can gather the largest possible show of support at the discussion of the law in the portuguese Parliament.
Manifesto from the Portuguese Director’s Association
The Portuguese Government is getting ready to vote by mid April a new law on Cinema named Law of the Cinematographic Arts (why the plural?) and Audiovisuals.
The Portuguese Film Institute, ICAM, (responsible since its creation for financing portuguese films) disappears from the law. In its stead is created a “Fund for the Investment and Development of Cinematographic Arts and Audiovisuals”, through which the government threatens to revert what little money is left to produce films in Portugal into a sombre commerce with the american distributors and exhibitors and the private television networks, a “Fund” destined to finance projects that will, supposedly, draw audiences and generate profits.
Such manoeuvering comes at a time when the portuguese cinema, having strengthened its identity and modes of production, has seen the rise of young filmmakers and allowed a steady flow of production to already established ones, with both national and international recognition.
Therefore, now that all indicators show a consolidation of portuguese filmmaking on the basis of an important and diverse production, the portuguese Government intends to – through sleight of hand – ruin the funds destined for culture, favorising a doubtful commerce, choking the production of films by producing less films on a higher budget, thus excluding from its system dozens of filmmakers. All this is done in the name of a mythological “commercial cinema”, that in Portugal has produced nothing but financial disasters and artistic wreckages.
No economic reasoning can give legitimacy to this “expensive and commercial cinema”, and the government – in an irresponsible shiphandling – has no prospective study to support its decision.
Actually, the more money is invested in a film the greater the loss; whereas films produced at a lesser cost – much freer and original – films that are shown world wide, to spectators of different generations and cultures, have proven to be able to have better “commercial performances”.
For Cinema – as well as for other arts – we demand a Ministery of Culture, with an effective cultural and artistic policy; not a Ministery of Commerce.
We do not accept the commercial and industrial policies within the Ministery of Culture (disrespecticting the international agreements on commerce and EU directives on cultural exception) and we want real policies that protect portuguese cinema in a market that is abandoned to the vested interests of the american industry.
We demand that the money for cinema be given to cinema, that it is attributed through public contests with clear and transparent rules assuring the freedom and independence of creation.
We want it to be made in the name of the cultural sovereignty of the country and in the name of the bonds that connect cinema with all the other arts and also in the name the cultural identity of every country.
We demand from the Ministery of Culture a Film Institute with its own funding and with financial and administrative autonomy; we also demand a clear separation between the art of cinema and the interests of the audiovisual industry, that should be clearly separated from the funds that sustain filmmaking.
We cannot admit that portuguese cinema be subjected to the interests of the private and public television networks, nor that the government uses the cultural status of cinema to finance under the table – through the so called “Investment Fund” – the deficits of the networks and their chronic incapacity to sustain production.
We demand that the law respect the principles put forward in its introductory remarks: more films; more diversity; more possibilities for more filmmakers – of every generation – to film. And we also want that the State returns to its role as guardian of the freedom of every artist and his work, without the populist pretensions that have stolen the portuguese imagination to the gain of the american film industry and the dejects of brasilian television.
To sacrifice a national cinema to such designs is a crime to the liberty of all everywhere. And all indications concur to the notion that this is only the beguinning of a process that will put an end to the portuguese cultural sovereignty, an announced death to its independence and originality, in the name of a policy done in favor of a literature of “best-sellers”, of “sculpture” and “painting” that are mere decorative artifacts, of a “vaudeville theater”, of a super-market music. It will be the return to the nightmare of a sub-culture of retrogress, obeyant to the whims of the market and the interests of those that believe they can run it.