The Finnish Film Foundation receives €6 million in support
by Marta Bałaga
- The foundation has been given a substantial sum by the Ministry of Education and Culture to help cinemas and film festivals that are struggling during the pandemic, and to top up production support
UPDATE (16 June 2020): In June, the Finnish Film Foundation received €5 million in additional funds for production support from the national Ministry of Education and Culture. The funds are to be used to support new film and series production through the regular application process. €5 million is approximately 25% of the foundation’s production support funds in a normal year.
As Finnish cinemas remain closed owing to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions and local festivals are cancelling outright or heading online, with the help of the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, the Finnish Film Foundation now has €1 million at its disposal. It is to be used to “secure the future operation of cinemas nationwide and to ensure that the organisations responsible for film festivals can continue their activities”, as stated on its website. In short? To help them survive.
“The extra funding is excellent news and very much needed. We are all interconnected in this field: cinemas, distributors, festivals and filmmakers. None can survive without the other,” Anna Möttölä, executive director of the Helsinki International Film Festival Love & Anarchy, told Cineuropa. “I’m especially glad that action is being taken to help cinemas, which, despite all the streaming possibilities, are the cornerstones of film culture in Finland and have suffered due to the necessary restrictions. Cinemas are where film happens, where the magic of Love & Anarchy happens,” she added. “I’m very pleased that funding will also be available both through the Finnish Film Foundation and the Ministry of Education and Culture for festivals that have had to cancel or be postponed this spring, as we had to do with our March event the Season Film Festival. And I hope that the support will continue, for festivals and cinemas have challenging times ahead as we all deal with this new reality.”
There is no denying that such help couldn’t have come at a better time, as observed by Ilmari Arnkil, distribution and exhibition specialist at the foundation. “In terms of having culture available all around the country, it is critical that cinemas survive. In many regions, cinemas can be the most popular, or even the only, cultural service. If the restrictions continue for a long time, there is a danger that our nationwide network of cinemas will collapse, which in turn would be harmful for the production and distribution of Finnish films. It is almost impossible for cinemas to develop other activities in this situation.”
Lasse Saarinen, CEO of the Finnish Film Foundation, informed Cineuropa that he has also contacted the ministry regarding possible extra support for the film business. “If we get new support, there will surely be backing for production, and if the restrictions for festivals continue, the ministry would need to give us money for that, too, but it’s impossible to say whether that will happen,” he added, also wondering whether the current situation would influence people’s cinema-going habits. “It is very hard to estimate how people will behave in the future. I think that it will take several weeks to get back to normal, but who knows?” he said.
The relief funds are currently available for small and medium-sized cinemas whose operations have ceased because of the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and for film festivals (supported by the Finnish Film Foundation) that have had to cancel or postpone their event during the period 13 March-31 May 2020. The Finnish Film Foundation will now proceed to contact those festivals eligible for support.
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