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INDUSTRY / MARKET Czech Republic

The Czech Republic allows film productions to restart

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- The government has relaxed coronavirus-related restrictions, allowing previously halted domestic and international productions to continue

The Czech Republic allows film productions to restart
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, a Marvel Studios miniseries for Disney+ that is being shot in the Czech Republic

The imposition of preventive measures to fight COVID-19 in the Czech Republic has led to major losses in the domestic film industry (see the news). However, in light of the current situation, the government is gradually easing the restrictions. Even though free movement without the mouth and nose covered is still prohibited, actors and performers have been exempt from wearing masks while exercising their profession since 1 May.

Furthermore, the Czech Republic was the first country in Europe to develop self-regulatory recommendations as a form of protection against the coronavirus during film shoots; these were prepared by the Czech Audiovisual Producers’ Association, the Czech Film Fund and the European Institute for Health and Safety in the Film Industry. “Adherence to these recommendations, including testing actors every 14 days during production and, of course, maintaining sanitation standards on location and in studios, will reduce the possibility of infection to an absolute minimum. However, they also apply to cross-border transport – foreign actors and crew members must show a negative test result when leaving their country, a measure that, according to the latest reports, airlines will also begin to require for all of their passengers. Within 72 hours of arrival, they will undergo a second test and remain quarantined until they receive a negative result. The result is usually received the next day. In this way, they can avoid the 14-day quarantine, which would have a severe impact on film budgets,” says Czech film commissioner Pavlína Žipková.

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Big productions that have been disrupted by the outbreak of the pandemic are expected to return to the Czech Republic and continue from mid-May onwards. “Three-quarters of audiovisual productions in the Czech Republic stopped in March. In full compliance with the Ministry of Health, filmmakers are no longer affected by measures restricting cultural and sporting events and large gatherings. We therefore consider audiovisual production to be resumed,” said Helena Bezděk Franková, director of the Czech Film Fund.

The country’s borders reopened on 27 April for citizens of the European Union, Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein and the United Kingdom. The state of emergency in the country is expected to end on 17 May, while the European Commission’s recommendation not to accept passengers from non-European countries applies until 15 May and is not expected to be prolonged further. “It is important to realise here that this is only a recommendation, not a prohibition, as in the case of the US administration, which issued a recommendation not to travel,” says Žipková. Among the productions that are coming back to the Czech Republic are the second season of Amazon’s gothic steampunk series Carnival Row, Amazon’s upcoming fantasy blockbuster series The Wheel of Time, the Marvel Studios miniseries for Disney+ The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and the Netflix film 473 Transatlantic.

The incentive programme, however, was not interrupted during the lockdown in the country. “The Czech Film Fund continued to register audiovisual projects, and payment of incentives was not delayed for those projects where all conditions stipulated by law were met,” said the director of the Czech Film Fund. “It should be emphasised that within the creative and cultural industries, audiovisual production enjoys a strong and exceptional position, primarily thanks to its financial contributions to non-cultural industries, which account for up to 60% of individual film budgets. Specifically, these are small and medium-sized companies. That is why it is really crucial for the Czech economy that audiovisual production starts up again,” noted Czech Minister of Culture Lubomír Zaorálek.

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