Country Focus: Iceland
US filmmakers and European broadcasters protest against Icelandic cuts
by Jorn Rossing Jensen
- Facing severe budget cuts, the Icelandic film industry, which has increased its turnover by 248% in two years, mainly due to foreign productions in the country such as Prometheus, Oblivion, Game of Thrones and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, has been supported by US filmmakers and, indirectly, European broadcasters.
After the second round of budget talks on December 13, the Icelandic Althing (Parliament) will this week vote for the new government’s proposal to reduce public film funding for cinema by 39%- from €6.8 million to €3.8 million – in the 2014 national budget.
The Association of Icelandic Film Producers, the Icelandic Film Makers Association and the Directors Guild of Iceland have pointed out that the immediate consequence will be the loss of more than 200 jobs in film production, €3.7 million less in tax income, and €3.1 million less in foreign income.
US productions contributed substantially to the Icelandic industry’s result of €71.9 million last year, and 17 American filmmakers – including Clint Eastwood, Darren Aronofsky and Terrence Malick, who “have had the great pleasure of working on one or more film projects in Iceland” - have expressed their support for their Icelandic colleagues.
“In our view, the Icelandic film professionals we have worked with are of the highest standard. The expertise that they bring to the table – not only as filmmakers but as invaluable advisors on Icelandic practices, customs and locations – has brought immeasurable benefits to the work that we do.
We stand with them, and with the entire film community in Iceland, in their efforts to maintain the current levels of government support for filmmaking, and thus we urge the Icelandic government to reconsider their current plans to cut the budget of the Icelandic Film Fund.”
In another move, the European Broadcasting Union – the organization of 76 public broadcasters, including 11 in the Nordic region – has firmly condemned the ‘disproportionate' cuts imposed on pubcasters all over Europe, in particular Iceland’s RUV. According to the government proposal, the Icelandic station will lose €6.1 million in the 2014 budget, as well as €2.3 million from restricted sales of advertising and sponsorships.