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Slovakian institutions work on measures to protect the domestic film industry from COVID-19


- The Slovak Audiovisual Fund is in talks with new Minister of Culture Natália Milanová to ease the restrictions for film shoots

Slovakian institutions work on measures to protect the domestic film industry from COVID-19
New Minister of Culture Natália Milanová (left) with Slovakian President Zuzana Čaputová (© Office of the President of the Slovak Republic)

A new centre-right government was recently appointed in Slovakia, led by new Prime Minister Igor Matovič, which now has to deal with the unprecedented public health crisis. Similarly to other branches of the government, the Ministry of Culture has a newly appointed head, Natália Milanová, who is a member of the prime minister’s party, OLANO (Ordinary People and Independent Personalities). Milanová, much like her colleagues in other departments, has had to sit straight in the hot seat, given the fallout from the outbreak and the impact it is having on the cultural sector. A historian and former teacher, Milanová has been a member of the National Council of the Slovak Republic since 2018. She was also a Vice-President of the Committee for Culture and Media. Her areas of interest are the protection and recovery of cultural monuments, media and the financing of culture.

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The Slovak Film and Television Association wrote an open letter to the previous prime minister as well as the designated PM, Matovič, in mid-March regarding the crisis in the audiovisual sector, asking for measures to be taken, as the industry has basically ground to a halt. The first round of support for professionals working in the cultural and creative industries has now been rolled out. The new Ministry of Culture has established a crisis team that is looking for solutions, while the Slovak Audiovisual Fund has ratified a series of “COVID-19” measures to minimise the negative economic impact on production and distribution while also engaging in a dialogue with the Ministry of Culture in order to ease the restrictions for film shoots, given that Slovakia is still considered one of the safest, most low-risk countries, with a low threat to health.

Even though the COVID-19 emergency remains the priority for the foreseeable future, the OLANO party dedicated a special part of its election programme to culture and media. In that section, the party promises to “support film production by creating conditions to acquire foreign capital” and support “the transformation of Radio and Television Slovakia”, the public broadcaster.

The new government has presented its programme declaration, passed on 19 April, for the period 2020-2024, in which its pre-election propositions are given a clearer and more definite outline. The government plans to establish a new, mandatory discount for families with children, in the form of a group cinema ticket; to support the competitiveness of Slovakia as a filming country, “including stimulus measures and cross-border film co-productions”, which also means that the cash rebate will not be lowered in the near future (see the news); to support co-productions by independent film producers with broadcasters; and to continue on with the recovery of audiovisual heritage carried out by the Slovak Film Institute, while also approving a measure to develop the infrastructure of Radio and Television Slovakia.

As the lockdown is gradually lifted, the Slovak Film Commission has stated that location managers are offering online location-scouting services, and filmmakers have started filming smaller projects and preparing for bigger shoots while adhering to strict hygiene-related restrictions. The incentive programme has not been frozen, and producers can still apply with their upcoming projects in order to receive a 33% cash rebate.

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