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FUNDING CUTS IMPACT FILM INDUSTRY IN BALTIC REGION

Film professionals in Estonia and Latvia may need to brace for hard times as in recent weeks both countries reduced state film funding for 2009. While the Estonian Film Foundation will receive approx. 3.7 mil. euros (down by 10.6% from 2008), the National Film Centre of Latvia will have 3.1 mil euro at its disposal, a budget cut of 33% compared to last year.

 

 

 

 

Estonia's government on Thursday, February 12, moved to cut over €500 million from the 2009 state budget which is expected to decrease annual subsidies for the Estonian Film Foundation, the national film agency, by €130,000.
The Foundation's budget for 2009 had already been shrunk by 6.4% year on year from 2008 to €3.9 million. [Ed.note: updated amount: 3.72 mil. euro]

The bill is scheduled for approval by the parliament next week, and further cuts may be on the way in other public film funding schemes, including the audiovisual foundation of the Estonian Cultural Endowment and the Ministry of Culture cinema support schemes.

The total funding for film in 2009 was budgeted slightly above €6.1 million late last year but may now slip below the €6 million line, to 2007 levels, as the tax-dependent Cultural Endowment will likely shrink as well.

The budget cuts are only partially offset for producers by the rapidly falling inflation which has dropped from above 10% in 2008 to near-zero and may even flip to deflation, according to some forecasts.

 

Cuts in the state budget have reduced the support administered by the National Film Centre of Latvia for film production and development in 2009 to €3,110,000.

Since 2005, state subsidies for film production had increased every year, reaching €4,615,000 in 2008. This year the state financing for the film industry has been reduced by 33% in comparison with 2008.

The National Film Centre has announced three project competitions to apply for state funding for film projects: fiction, documentaries, and animation. In the documentary film competition, new film projects are eligible to apply. Only projects already in production can receive financing in the areas of fiction and animation films.

Many film studios in Latvia have been working in the advertisement industry to support their film business. However, in the current economic crises, state support for film production has become more crucial. In response, the Latvian film industry is expected to focus on attracting more foreign productions and co-operation with foreign film studios.

[Source: Film New Europe, February 25, 2009]