Country Focus: Portugal
Portugal: new cinema law approved, but not implemented
by Vitor Pinto
- The latest episode in the troublesome process of implementing Portugal's new cinema law is a sad example of the little respect that the country, in a state of crisis and austerity, has for culture and the audiovisual sector. The decree that regulates the new cinema law will finally not be published this week, as had previously been promised by the new secretary of state for culture Jorge Barreto Xavier (photo) this past November during a meeting with representatives from the sector.
The new cinema law was approved on July 25 and was published in the Diário da República (the Portuguese state’s official bulletin) in September 6. In Portuguese law, the regulatory decree is an explanatory rule for the law and its implementation by the government. The lack of its publication affects its implementation.
This delay could compromise the launch of upcoming calls for applications for aid that had been planned for January 2013, and has caused a group of filmmakers, including Manoel de Oliveira, João Botelho, Miguel Gomes, Teresa Villaverde, and Raquel Freire, to sign a statement titled Cinema português bloqueado! (lit. “Portuguese cinema blocked!”) that has been published on the Portuguese Association of Film Directors’ blog.
The statement accuses the government of being incapable “enforcing the law that it drafted” and of not showing signs of having “any political will to do so”. This, add the signatories, “is totally contrary to the attitude of the new secretary of state, who showed his intention to engage in dialogue and to rapidly and efficiently resolve the current standstill in Portuguese cinema”.
The standstill they refer to is the total suspension of any subsidies to the sector this year (read more), a budget cut that has prevented a series of productions from getting ahead, as well as the successive delays in the new law’s approval and implementation. This is why, it is asked of the prime minister, Pedro Passos Coelho, the greatest responsible for culture in the country, to immediately ensure “the publication of the new decree for the law drafted by the secretary of state (…) so that, finally, the new law can be implemented”.