Iuliana Tarnovețchi and Alex Trăilă • President and CEO, Romanian Alliance of Film Producers
“We still need to work hard to bring the film industry higher up the authorities’ list of priorities”
- We chatted to Iuliana Tarnovețchi and Alex Trăilă, respectively president and CEO of the Romanian Alliance of Film Producers, which was created in May this year
Earlier this year, a group of active Romanian producers discussed the option of creating a body that would successfully represent their interests. Starting from May, the Romanian Alliance of Film Producers (APF) was established with the aim of creating a competitive and sustainable environment within the domestic film industry, in cooperation with state authorities as well as with international bodies and institutions. We had a chance to talk to the APF’s president, Iuliana Tarnovețchi, and its CEO, Alex Trăilă, regarding their association.
Cineuropa: Could you give us an overview of the APF?
Iuliana Tarnovețchi, Alex Trăilă: The Romanian Alliance of Film Producers is the body representing the majority of Romanian film producers, covering all interests from arthouse, independent companies to big studios. Our aim is to unify, under one voice, the relevance of the film industry from both a cultural and an economic point of view, in front of the national authorities. Through the partnerships and the envisaged affiliations, we are also looking to bring the Romanian film industry’s interests to the international and the European stage.
Why was it necessary to launch the APF, and what are your main objectives?
IT: For the past 30 years, and even more so during the last 15 years, the Romanian film landscape has been pushed forward by individuals, mainly by the multi-award-winning filmmakers who have a great international reputation. However, we understood that this representation should not be on the filmmakers’ shoulders, and it’s not their job, nor is it the job of the producers as individuals, to be the ones on the front line. With that in mind, at the beginning of the year, a group of the most active producers, with their companies, were working on finding the best solution to enable such an entity to take shape. Also, the current health crisis has accelerated the process, as the government needed a well-structured partner to discuss and find solutions for the sector. Despite this exceptional period, we still need to work hard to bring the film industry higher up the authorities’ list of priorities.
AT: Credit goes to everyone for their major contributions and the time they have dedicated to this. Nevertheless, we have to appreciate the energy that Iuliana Tarnovețchi brings to the table and thank her for pursuing the wishes of such a diverse group, as the current president. As for myself, from an early stage, I have been asked to make contributions and, together with the founding members, to translate everything into action and into a legitimate body, as far as possible. Later on, everything morphed into me officially taking on the role of CEO of the alliance.
Are you replacing any other organisation?
IT, AT: Currently in Romania, there is no other active body with which we would find ourselves engaged in any form of competition. Most of the unions or other bodies reflect the authors’ perspectives more, and the producers’ interests only very minimally. Practically, we are becoming the main dialogue partner for the authorities, and that position had been vacant until now. There has been some improvement in our communication with the officials during this period, but still, there are many issues that need to be fixed.
How many members do you have, and are you planning to expand?
IT, AT: Our members are independent companies, but not individuals, and we have 37 on board so far. The steering committee comprises Iuliana Tarnovețchi (Alien Films Entertainment), Andrei Boncea (Frame Film), Cristian Bostănescu (Castel Film), Ada Solomon (HiFilm Productions), Tudor Giurgiu (Libra Films Productions), Tudor Reu (Mobra Films, Cristian Mungiu’s production company) and Carmen Pepelea (Icon Films), in partnership with Czech firm Stillking Films. We are continuously working on attracting other companies that are not yet participating in the APF, and we estimate that we will reach just over 50, considering the active companies that meet our minimum eligibility criteria.
What was your reaction to the pandemic-related restrictive measures?
IT, AT: Our first major success was becoming the main partner for the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Health, with which we developed the safety guidelines for production, required during the pandemic. It was an extremely efficient process: proof of this is that film production was one of the first activities greenlit during the period after the lockdown.
Do you have any other plans to support domestic producers?
IT, AT: We are currently in talks and are part of the working group that intends to reopen the production incentive scheme operated by the Ministry of Economy. We have already presented a set of urgent measures to the Ministry of Culture to help the Romanian National Film Center amidst its funding difficulties, which will heavily affect production and other film-related activities. Furthermore, we are now working on a specific strategy: besides the advocacy work that APF has already started, our body could take a step in the direction of being a film promotion office, including providing service capabilities, location opportunities, casting agents and other relevant information that is so necessary in order to increase foreign interest in our country, filmmakers and talent.
Ηow is APF planning to position itself internationally, and apart from domestic productions, what would your role be in minority co-productions?
IT, AT: We are currently evaluating which international and European bodies we could affiliate ourselves with and are looking forward to some strong cooperation with bodies such as MPA. Regarding the minority co-production possibilities in Romania, despite successful collaborations with acclaimed filmmakers ranging from Jacques Audiard (Mobra Films) and Tomasz Wasilewski (HiFilm) to Jasmila Žbanić (Digital Cube), we are currently promoting the introduction of a dedicated allocated fund for minority co-productions from the National Film Center. It is already possible to submit projects and get access to the cash-rebate scheme as minority co-producers, and not just as line producers. During our discussions with Minister of Culture Bogdan Gheorghiu, we touched upon the necessity of a brand-new cinema law, and debates should commence in the near future, in the hope that it will be adopted by spring 2021.
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