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Latvian film scheme gets €43m in EU support


The European Commission last Thursday approved a €43m film support scheme to help Latvia cope with the difficult screening conditions of local and European films, in particular in rural areas.

The scheme, under EC Treaty state aid rules, will runs through the end of 2013. It covers all of Latvia's film support measures, including film development, production and distribution of Latvian and European films, particularly in rural Latvia. The Latvian authorities will implement any changes that may be required after the expiry of the Cinema Communication.

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Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes commented: "I warmly welcome the close cooperation provided by the National Film Centre of Latvia and the Latvian State aid Control Department. This helped the Commission to appreciate the difficult situation facing Latvian film culture and to approve the scheme quickly."

The second biggest country of the Baltic region after Lithuania, with a population of 2.3 million, Latvia is nevertheless in serious shortage of cinema venues. There are only 14 full-time cinemas in the country (mostly in the capital Riga), with 46 screens.

In 2007, 151 films were released, including six from Latvia, 28 from the EU, 94 from the US and 23 from elsewhere. The biggest hit of the year was the local film Defenders of Riga with 136,835 admissions. The UK film Mr Bean’s Holiday [+see also:
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was the fifth most successful film with 66,232 admissions.

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