Country Focus: Portugal
Portuguese cinema in a state of emergency: latest developments
by Vitor Pinto
- José Pedro Ribeiro yesterday resigned from his position as director of the National Film and Audiovisual Institute (ICA), ten days after his co-director, actress Leonor Silveira, also handed in her resignation to the State Department for Culture.
Although neither has publicly explained the reasons for their resignation, it's easy to imagine what they could be, as members of the Portuguese audiovisual industry continue to protest against the sector's paralysis, caused by successive delays in passing a new cinema law and a current freeze on any aid from the ICA.
This unbearable situation earlier this month led a group of film professionals to sign an ultimatum to Passos Coelho's government and, in particular, its unpopular State Secretary for Culture, Franciso José Viegas (photo). After the petition (read more), they protested in front of Parliament, and film directors Miguel Gomes, João Salaviza, and Gonçalo Tocha met with members of parliament.
This afternoon, Viegas finally met with representatives of the Producer and Director Association (APR). Director Margarida Gil said after the meeting that Viegas had guaranteed that key points in the provisional version of the new cinema law drafted at the beginning of the year had not changed, despite slight changes after a recent public consultation about it. The government should approve the law within the next two weeks, so that it can be debated and approved by Parliament before it closes for the summer holidays. Once the law is approved, it will ensure the necessary conditions to re-open ICA applications for this year.
The State Department for Culture is also said to be working on an emergency plan to fix the funding crisis at the ICA, so that aid promised over the last few years can be paid out, and its awardees can relaunch film production.