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Country Focus: Bulgaria

Constitutional Court forces state to finance film industry


- Bulgaria's Constitutional Court yesterday annulled an article in the country's State Budget Act that allowed the government to ignore the financial needs of the local film industry.

Bulgaria has a Film Industry Act that guarantees annual state funding for at least seven features, 14 documentaries and 160 minutes of animation. To the distress of local filmmakers, the State Budget Act had changed the text to “up to seven motion pictures”, adding that “financing will be given only if there are enough resources”.

According to local news agency Novinite, the Constitutional Court has ruled in favour of filmmakers, stating that the article added to the Film Industry Act is not a legal amendment, its subjective assessment making it legally inadmissible.

The ruling has been received with great enthusiasm by Bulgarian filmmakers, who were preparing a large-scale protest rally against the government's decisions regarding the local film industry.

New film projects depend almost exclusively on state allocated funds and the change in the country's legislation was expected to irremediably cripple the Bulgarian cinema, which has been increasingly successful both critically and commercially.

Last month, the change in the country's film funding policy drove the Federation of European Film Directors to send Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov a letter of concern in which the Federation president, Hungarian director Istvan Szabo, pleaded for an “adequate level of film financing” (see news).

The state grants for film projects are managed by the Bulgarian National Film Centre.


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