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LEGISLATION Portugal

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Over 500 personalities worldwide sign letter of protest against Portuguese government

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- Among the signatories are Miguel Gomes, Pedro Almodóvar and Aki Kaurismäki, expressing their opposition to an amendment to the current film law

Over 500 personalities worldwide sign letter of protest against Portuguese government
Director Miguel Gomes is just one of the signatories of the letter

Over 500 Portuguese and international personalities from the film industry have signed an open letter to the Portuguese government. They are protesting against a new amendment to the film law, which relieves national film body the ICA of the responsibility of choosing the juries for the institution’s financial support schemes. The task is to be transferred to SECA (a Portuguese acronym standing for the Specialised Section for Cinema and Audiovisual), a body with a seat in the National Council for Culture.

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Among the international signatories of the letter are directors Pedro Almodóvar (Spain), Aki Kaurismäki (Finland), Christophe Honoré (France), Cristian Mungiu (Romania), Walter Salles (Brazil), Mia Hansen-Løve (France), Lucrecia Martel (Argentina), Agnès Jaoui (France), Andrei Ujica (Romania), Gianfranco Rosi (Italy), Leos Carax (France), Kleber Mendonça Filho (Brazil) and Philippe Garrel (France), who expressed their solidarity with Portuguese signatories such as directors Miguel GomesMarco MartinsAbi FeijóJoão BotelhoJoão Canijo and Teresa Villaverde, besides many other filmmakers, producers and actors. 

The letter underlines the “miraculous” fact that Portuguese cinema has managed for decades to stand out in international showcases, despite the country’s “miniscule national film market (fewer than a dozen national feature films are distributed in theatres per year)”, and rejects the announced approval of the amendment.

This is the last chapter in a controversy pitting the Portuguese government against the local film associations, which reared its head last month (read more). The quarrel reached its peak on Saturday, when several film professionals attending the Berlinale (where Portuguese cinema has a strong contingent this year) decided to refuse an invitation to a supper organised by the Portuguese ambassador in Germany.

State Secretary for Culture Miguel Honrado was due to attend that supper, where the new tax-rebate system aimed at boosting the number of international shoots in the country was to be unveiled. In the meantime, Honrado has stated that the dialogue with film professionals is not over yet, seemingly offering some hope that negotiations may continue.

Owing to the legislative process currently in progress, the ICA’s 2017 calendar of calls for funding schemes has not opened yet. Earlier this year, the ICA stated that its intention was to announce the deadlines by the end of March. Watch this space…

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