Country Focus: Portugal
ICA’s president and Film Museum’s director quit
by Vitor Pinto
- Two names in Portugal’s main film institutions have announced this week they would quit their positions. José Pedro Ribeiro resigned from the presidency of Portugal’s film institute ICA and Maria João Seixas has announced she had not re-applied for the public tender for the direction of the Portuguese Film Museum. Even if neither one of them has publicly announced the reasons behind their departure, it is possible to contextualise their decision in light of the restless times the local industry has been facing for the last two years.
Head of the ICA since 2005, Ribeiro is to be replaced by Filomena Serras Pereira, who had previously assumed the direction of ICA’s film and audiovisual department.
Ribeiro had previously resigned a first time back in 2012 (news), but he ended up staying in the institution, which was facing a particularly critical time for the film sector. Currently, the situation is no less critical as subscription-based television operators decided to disrespect the new Film Law, approved in 2012. Instead of paying their contribution, which would be used to finance the ICA, companies Zon/Optimus, Cabovisão, PT and Vodafone have decided not to do so, arguing the fee is illegal. This has led to local professionals demanding a quick, strong and effective intervention from Secretary of State for Culture Jorge Barreto Xavier. No solution has been found so far.
Seixas assumed the direction of the Portuguese Film Museum in January 2010, after the death of its legendary director Bénard da Costa. Expectations toward Seixas’ era and toward the new projects of the institution – among them a controversial extension of the Lisbon-based institution to the city of Porto – were soon restricted by political instability, financial crisis and their side effects.
Confronted with insufficient resources, the film museum was about to close last September (news). It finally managed to remain open until the end of this year thanks to an exceptional endowment, facilitated by the Secretary of State for Culture. The funding model of the film museum for 2014 – including the extra 1.3 M€, to be issued from the Cultural Promotion Fund – will not however solve the institution’s chronic underfunding problem. To be continued…