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Filmmakers protest political interference; HAVC gets acting director Daniel Rafaelic

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- HAVC has been receiving warnings and support from the local and international community, as well as Doris Pack

Filmmakers protest political interference; HAVC gets acting director Daniel Rafaelic
HAVC's acting director, Daniel Rafaelic

The heated atmosphere surrounding Hrvoje Hribar's resignation from HAVC (see the news) continues to intensify, even as Minister of Culture Nina Obuljen Koržinek invited, and the HAVC managing board approved, Daniel Rafaelic to take on the role of acting director. A film critic, historian and professor, Rafaelic is a respected figure for a filmmaking community in turmoil. 

Last week, the Croatian Producers Association and the Croatian Film Directors’ Guild formed the Puk'o nam je film initiative (slang for “We've had enough”), “with the aim of protecting Croatian cinema from political influence and control”. The initiative attracted a great deal of support from the whole cultural sphere, and held a press conference on Monday in Zagreb's Kino Europa, attended by more than 200 members of the industry. 

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

“The independence of national cinema from political pressure is an achievement of civilisation and something that the Constitution and numerous European regulations bind the Republic of Croatia to,” said director Antonio Nuić. “The film industry's autonomy is the foundation of its success. The idea that ministers can approve or deny financing for film production is absolutely unacceptable on many counts, mostly that of common sense, because why did the Ministry of Culture even establish the HAVC?” 

He was referring to the report of the State Audit Office, according to which all contracts concluded by HAVC worth more than HRK 200,000 (€26,802) that were not signed by the Minister of Culture were irregular. But this is a misinterpretation of the 2007 Act on Audiovisual Activities, where this amount is related to operational expenses at HAVC, not to contracts for production funding.

The initiative requested that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković see them, and publicly support HAVC and Croatian cinema.

Also on Monday, Doris Pack, the former president of the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education, issued a press statement supporting the work of HAVC and addressing Plenković personally. 

“As an eyewitness myself of the dynamic development of Croatian cinema over the last five years, both on the festival screens as well as in terms of the international film business, I cannot help but be disappointed about the crisis that has befallen the Croatian funding system and its modern audiovisual model. This cultural concept has a name – HAVC, the Croatian Audiovisual Centre – one that we have to thank for this sudden rise of the national audiovisual industry in Croatia. It is a well-known fact that the filmmaking communities of Eastern Europe and their national film funds regard HAVC as a role model and a much-admired blueprint. In December last year, I saw this at a conference in Zagreb, organised by the EU. Let’s prevent the harmful changes that may damage its essential concept! 

“I am sure that the present government understands only too well how important this topic is. The audiovisual industry is also one of the cornerstones of our economies – in Croatia as well as in Germany. Many SMEs, supplier industries and even tourism are benefiting from activities in this field. Therefore, I sincerely hope that the Croatian prime minister and his government will commence a substantial dialogue with filmmakers, lawmakers and experts as soon as possible,” Pack wrote. 

Support from the international community started pouring in last week as Hribar resigned and attended the Berlinale. The Film New Europe Association issued a statement on 11 February, signed by directors of film centres and filmmakers' associations in 17 Eastern European countries.

“We have all looked with admiration towards Croatia and the successful work done by HAVC over the past five or six years under the leadership of Hribar. The HAVC has become a leader for the region, in a sense. The FNE association would like to acknowledge its great gratitude to the visionary management that Hribar brought to Croatian cinema and to the whole Eastern European region,” the statement reads. The full text can be found here.

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