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LITHUANIAN FILM PERSPECTIVES - ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION

The 9th Baltic Sea Documentary Forum, that was held in Vilnius, 7-11 September, 2005 opened a round-table discussion ‘Lithuanian Film Perspectives’. The discussion covered such topics as Lithuanian cinema contribution to the state culture and economics, problems of film support and promotion or necessity for a long-term cinema policy in Lithuania. The mentioned topics are locally-based, but illustrate simillar problems that are common for numbre of countries in the East and Central European region. (Photo: random round table)




TRANSCRIPTION of the Round Table Discussion: LITHUANIAN FILM PERSPECTIVES

The participants of the discussion: Andrejs Apsitis (Latvia) – Deputy Director of National Film Centre of Latvia, representative of ‘Eurimage’, Valentas Askinis (Lithuania) - animation director, Chaiman of the Film Council of Lithuania, Petras Austrevicius (Lithuania) – Member of the parliamentary European Affairs Committee, Sarūnas Bartas (Lithuania) - film director, Zita Cepaitė (Lithuania) - Adviser to the Minister of Culture, Kêstutis Drazdauskas (Lithuania) - film producer, Karlo Funk (Estonia) – Head of International Relations, Estonian Film Foundation, Ilze Gailite-Holmberg (Latvia) – Director, National Film Centre of Latvia, Vaidas Jauniskis (Lithuania) – film critic, Audrius Juzėnas (Lithuania) – film director, producer, Chairman of the Independent Film Producers Association, Paulius Kovas (Lithuania) – Director General of Lithuanian TV channel LNK, Member of Film Council of Lithuania, Arūnas Matelis (Lithuania) – film director, producer, Rasa Miskinyte(Lithuania) – Head of LRT Film Production Department, organizer of the Forum, Tue Steen Müller (Denmark) – Director of European Documentary Network (EDN), Leena Pasanen (Finland) – Programme Director of Finish TV channel “Yle Theema’, Artūras Razgūnas (Lithuania) – lawyer, Member of Film Council of Lithuania, Gintaras Steponavicius (Lithuania) – Member of parliamentary Committee on Education, Science and Culture, Ieva Skarzinskaitė (Lithuania) – Head of MEDIA Desk, Ramūnas Skikas (Lithuania) – Managing Director of Lithuanian Film Studios, Roma Zakaitienė (Lithuania) - Member of parliamentary Committee on Education, Science and Culture, ex- Minister of Culture.

I. Skarzinskaitė: This round-table discussion is an unofficial opening of the 9th Baltic Sea Documentary Forum. The Baltic Forum is probably the most significant documentary event in our region. It originated in Born Holm Island, was held in Riga and Tallinn and finally we can host it here in Vilnius. This year there will be 25 projects that will be pitched in front of the representatives of TV stations and film funds. These 25 projects came from 7 countries: three Baltic States, the Ukraine, Russia, Poland and Belarus. Such event is a good opportunity to reflect on cinema situation and development. That's why we came up to this idea that it would be very useful to have a discussion on Lithuanian cinema in broader context. Broader context in terms that we’ve invited not only Lithuanian filmmakers, we've also invited Lithuanian politicians and also representatives of Ministry of Culture. And broader context in geographical sense – we have our colleagues from Latvia, Estonia, Denmark and Finland. I think that point of view from aside is always interesting and useful.

Today we will discuss the prospects of Lithuanian cinema. What should be the long-term strategy for the small country with very limited financial resources, but plenty of creative potency? I think it is the high time to start viewing cinema, taking into account both aspects- cultural and economical. The stereotype of Lithuanian films being profitless dependant of the state is still deeply rooted. So we should start focusing on cinema input into Lithuanian economy, into promotion of Lithuania abroad and to its unexplored and unused possibilities.

Cinema is an industry like any other sector of economy and it creates work places, attracts foreign investment, and, what is the most important, it should stimulate co-production. There again, we shouldn't undermine the fragile structure of non-commercial cinema, especially creative documentaries. They should enjoy the financial independence in order to revere its cultural value.

Similarly, it is of vital importance to increase state financing for Lithuanian cinema. But it is also important to take into account other factors: what should be the public broadcaster’s input into the cinema, what should be tax incentives and similar things. In other words, all this means that we need a long-term cinema strategy. I do hope that this discussion will be one step forward it. I give the floor to the moderator of this discussion Mr. Tue Steen Muller, the director of European Documentary Network, who is very well appointed with Lithuanian landscape and who is a big fan of Lithuanian documentaries.

T. S. Müller: Thank you very much for inviting me and also other non-Lithuanians to this discussion. I think it proves cultural openness of your country. Dear I say it we have managed to put together very good program for the present Baltic Sea Forum. First of all, we received interesting projects in development which hopefully will end as interesting creative documentaries. Furthermore, we will have 18 best commissioning editors in a panel that are coming to Vilnius for this event. And now, let’s start our discussion. First of all, let’s focus on money related topic- can film industry bring financial profit?

R. Skikas: Lithuanian Film Studio, which I represent, is the biggest service provider for film productions in the Baltic States. This year was very busy and successful for us. At this moment we have 4 films in production. Up to 95% of our income is coming from abroad. Last year foreign film production brought 5 mln EUR and 10 mln EUR this year. Tax incentives wildly available in other countries would definitely help us to increase our income. Let’s say, the USA, which remains our main client and main film market target, have already started to introduce their tax incentives strategy to the different states of America. They are doing that mainly to prevent lots of American productions simply leave because of high costs in the USA. They choose Canada, Eastern Europe, South America- the countries that provide tax incentives. For example, in New York, when not only state tax incentives, but also city tax incentives were applied, shootings have increased by 57%, that is additional 300 mln USD. Coming back to Europe, quite few countries provide tax incentives: Hungary, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, UK. Hungary introduced tax incentives only last year. The results speak for themselves. In terms of the local productions they are expecting to shoot at least 10 films this year as compared to 1-2 films per year before tax incentives programme. If tax incentives were available in Lithuania, it would not only attract more foreign producers, but also would stimulate national film industry, stipulate better working conditions and quality. It’s of high importance to guarantee full year employment for people working in film industry.

T. S. Müller: What do politicians think about tax incentives in Lithuania?

G. Stponavicius: It‘s interesting to compare situation in film industry in Lithuania and abroad. I would say there are a few approaches how to attract film oriented business from abroad. Indeed, one of the approaches is to provide tax incentives. But it is not the only one. When we talk about finances, it is important to clarify whether we mean commercial or non-commercial films. Thus far, I think, we have been talking on how to attract commercial film producers from abroad and to increase our incomes. In this regard we can definitely compete with other countries due to our general low costs of production and good production quality. These costs should be reduced even more, for example, reducing income tax. At present we have income tax of 15% compared to general 33%. Next year our income tax will drop down by 6%. But I think it’s more important to discuss what support model is the most appropriate for the non-commercial cinema.

R. Zakaitienė: It’s very difficult to make a difference talking about financing of commercial and non-commercial cinema. When we look at financing of our films here in Lithuania, we see that state support for film production is only a bit more than 3 mln LTL per year. In EUR it is even less than 1mln. No doubts, it’s too small, enabling on the average to produce one feature film and two documentaries per year, that’s it. It is essential to increase state support for cinema sector. The Survey on Lithuanian Cinema after the Restoration of Independence showed that Lithuanian filmmakers had managed to produce films of high creative value and promote Lithuania even having such small budgets. Nevertheless, the survey indicated that approximate budget for Lithuanian films production should be around 12 mln LTL (~3,5 mln EUR) and 1 mln LTL (~ 300 000 EUR) for film promotion. When we are talking about Hollywood films, everybody understands that they can bring money. Talking about documentary or national films you never know what the film is going to be like – good or bad. That’s why it is difficult to attract the investors. We should analyze this problem considering two aspects. One is how to attract private investment to cinema industry. The other one is how to make the Government and State understand the importance of the cinema in our culture, and the necessity to increase state film funding. Tax incentives only won’t solve the problem.

T. S. Müller: In Denmark we do not have a large audience and there is always a question why politicians should support national films and documentary. And our argument is that these films have one important feature- audience will be interested in them even in 20 years. And if you counted the audience of such a film through these 20 years it would reach admissions for American blockbuster in some cases. Another argument is that cinema industry creates a lot of work places. People are employed here all over the year and it is the best guarantee for the quality. And now let’s talk about Lithuanian cinema promotion abroad.

A. Matelis: Film support and promotion are closely linked. In my opinion, the only way for Lithuanian film-makers to promote their films abroad is to participate in film festivals. Festivals are the place where you are able not only to screen your film but also to find financing, distributors and establish contacts. When Lithuanian films participate in well-known festivals, of course, they do promote the country and a film itself. We’ve noticed that during the festival you can find from 4 to 20 times more Internet information on festival’s participant than usually. In general, dissemination of such information would cost huge amount of money for Lithuanian state. And in festivals it is done for free. So, festivals are very good platform to promote films and country. Unfortunately, there is actually no any possibility to promote Lithuanian cinema. Usually, we can expect to get support for travelling expenses only, sometimes, if you’re lucky, for subtitling, the copies and prints. And that’s all. When there is no promotion and advertising, it’s very difficult to get into the market.

For example, a few years ago my film was included in to the programme in Cannes, but all I could do just come and silently participate. That year neither Estonia nor Latvia had any film in the programme. Nevertheless, they made a huge promotion campaign on national films, advertising them in newspapers, renting a very expensive cinema for screening their films. They made a really god job promoting Latvian and Estonian cinema. Furthermore, the responses and interest in them from the market was much bigger than in us. We had a really good chance, but we’d missed it. It could be that Lithuania will have to wait for such a chance for other 10 years and to invest much more to get the same opportunity. I want to stress once again, that promotion of national cinema is impossible without government support.

T. S. Müller: Let’s get it clear-isn’t there any governmental support for promotion of Lithuanian cinema?

A. Matelis: There are some exceptions. It’s allocated 15 000 EUR per year for Baltic films promotion in some prestigious festivals such as Cannes, Berlin or Venice Film Festival. But you must go to the Minister of Culture and ask for 1000- 3000 EUR for promoting a film. I could say it’s almost nothing. Lithuania is also a member of the Baltic Films, but each country has its own budget there. For example, Latvia’s budget for national films promotion is over 1 mln EUR, and we have total zero to promote ours.

T. S. Müller: I suppose that not everybody knows about the Baltic Films. So, Ilze, can you briefly explain what it is.

I. Gailite-Holmberg: The Baltic Films were established in 2000 under a mutual agreement between Estonian and Latvian film institutions plus Lithuanian Ministry of Culture. The main aim of the Baltic Films is to promote Baltic -Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian- filmmaking and films abroad. This agreement supposes financial commitment as well. It means that we have agreed to share costs for certain events, for certain festivals. I would only encourage Lithuanian side to take more active part in the joint activities of the Baltic Films, to send its representatives to the Baltic Films events. At the moment nobody represents Lithuania at the Baltic Films.

A. Matelis: It’s clear, but you can’t spend money, if you don’t have it. Lithuania’s financial input in the Baltic Films would cover only one event, let’s say- in Cannes or Marseilles. That’s all. If we spend all money for Marseilles, we will not have money for Cannes and vice versa. If you are poor, you are stupid, if you are stupid, you are poor.

S. Bartas: I just would like to go a little back and to talk about filmmaking in Lithuania in general. First of all, I want to emphasize the necessity of entering the Eurimage; we have not become the members of the Eurimage yet. Co-production could be a good solution to stimulate film-making in Lithuania. At this moment, if 10 projects share 3 mln. LTL none of these films could be made without co-production. And co-producers are interested in Lithuania. They come with their money from many countries: Spain, Germany, France and others. But the fact that we still are not the members of the Eurimage discourages them. In order to attract foreign money we must increase budget for filmmaking. If we were able to make more films we would definitely be more known and promoted world-wide.



Z. Cepaitė: I’d like to remind you that the task of joining the Eurimage has been included into Government’s Programme of this year. Next year we should already become the members of Eurimage.

A. Apsitis: I was asked many times by colleagues from other countries to explain why Latvian neighbour Lithuania hadn’t become a member of the Eurimage yet. Almost all European countries except Lithuania, Great Britain and Malta are already the members of the Eurimage. For sure, first of all, this is the question of prestige to be a member of the Eurimage. I’m very happy to hear about the plans of Lithuanian Government.

T. S. Müller: Could I ask, how much do you pay for the membership?

A. Apsitis: I can tell you exactly. You have to pay 70 000 EUR per year. It’s the minimum share for the small countries. And it is very useful for the small countries, because if you pay 70 000 EUR, maximum you can get back is 700 000 EUR. All in all, generally you will get 200 000 EUR for each project. You can apply maximum with 10 projects. Last year we got support for 3 projects. We had applied 5 times in a 3 year period and we succeeded in all these cases. We understand Lithuanian colleagues. We faced the same problems, because our Government and Parliament had been holding similar point of view as yours now for a long time. Politicians were claiming that Latvian film-makers hadn’t enough good film projects for applying to the Eurimage. Why should they pay annual membership fee and spend state money? Nevertheless, for some years now Latvia has been participating in many film projects, and although mainly we are a minor co-producer, we create the space to unfold our talents. And we get our money back in a year or two at longest. At the moment there are a lot of small member countries in the Eurimage, and these countries support each other.

P. Kovas: I have been a member of Lithuanian Film Council, which allocates money for Lithuanian film-making, for 3 years. We’ve been always faced with a question whether to give money for a production of a new film or for cinema promotion and presentation in the festivals. We encourage the producers to include film promotion costs into a total budget of their film production.

P. Austrevicius: I do appreciate the decision to join the Eurimage. I think we should treat film industry in the same way as sports. Our small country is deservedly proud of the victories of our basketball team, because the government invests enough in it. Our basketball players are welcomed as national heroes after the championships. I wonder when we could expect the same praises for our film- makers coming back from prestigious film festivals. The point is that we don’t have a single strongly mobilized and motivated institution behind, which could represent film industry and invest enough money into it. When can we expect such an institution to be established finally, representing the concerns of Lithuanian cinema, supporting, promoting and presenting Lithuanian films abroad?

K. Funk: Estonian Film Foundation was established in 1997. It had been already working for 3 years until producers finally declared that its activities were not done well. The point was that the decisions were mainly maid under the same basics as you have now in Lithuania. Therefore, the new system was established in 2000 – 2001. Now we have one main expert who is selecting projects, reading and estimating them, he/she is making decisions concerning projects support, it is not a collective decision making. And I could only acknowledge that this new system proved to work much better than previous. Of course, the main expert have many advisers, who read scripts, give financial evaluations. But still the main expert is the only one who is responsible for the decision making process.

T. S. Müller: How manypeoplework in this institution and what is the yearly budget of the Estonian Film Foundation?

K. Funk: Our budget is 2, 3 mln EUR. About half of it goes to feature films production and the rest part is shared between documentary production, publishing, promotion activities, and some special projects. Estonian Film Foundation is also responsible for screening of films in the cinema theatres. We have 7 employees; we pay salaries to them, cover taxes. There are 2 – 3 other foundations, which support film education. Besides, do not forget Baltic Films, which help to promote our national cinematography abroad. For us, three small countries, it would be too difficult to make it separately, by ourselves. All in all, we have 4 mln. EUR per year allocated for cinema in Estonia.

T. S. Müller: How does the National Film Centre of Latvia function?

I. Gailite-Holmberg: From the 1st of September 2005 we got a little bit more independence. Latvian Film Centre is supervised by the Ministry of Culture, but not tightly influenced; it is an advisory board for the Centre. We have 17 people working for us. The Centre has film registry department, production department and soon we will open the distribution department. Our main function is to finance film production and project development. This year the budget for cinema in Latvia was nearly 3 mln EUR. 1, 5 mln EUR is for Film Centre, including film production, salaries, running costs, promotion. It is very important that we have such Film Centre in Latvia. We are the mediators between the producers and the Government.

T. S. Müller: And why don't you have such an institution in Lithuania?

R. Zakaitienė: Because of money. The budget for film making in Lithuania is regrettably small. We thought that establishing of such an institution would additionally reduce it. So, we had decided to establish Film Council of the Ministry of Culture, which would be responsible for distributing money for film production. At present the obligation to establish such an institution in 2006-2007 is included into the national governmental programme. As an ex-minister of culture, I can say that this institution is really important and we do need it. A few years ago film professionals started to cooperate and unify demanding bigger financial support for cinema sector, trying to prove that cinema is an important and significant part of our culture. It’s great that we already have a website on Lithuanian cinema active and functioning (www.lfc.lt), that we were introduced to national cinematography during national film festival ‘Three –coloured Cinema”. It was very good to show to Lithuanian public that we have our own national movies, for the long time mainly known and screened only abroad. You could even hear discussions like ‘have we our own movies at all?’, ‘we don’t see them in our cinema theatres’. Now the situation is different. And it is the time to find money and establish such an institution.



G. Steponavicius: Probably, for some time the ministry had no any interest in establishing such an institution, but it can be only my suspicion...

Z. Cepaitė: It’s clear that this institution is very necessary, but the situation is that we need to have some documents’ package to be prepared to give basics of operating of this film institution. We need to do this job as quickly as possible, and then find money. Another thing is that we have too few people working and responsible for cinema sector in the Ministry. But as far as I know, the Film Council have already started to push the Government to make the process faster.

V. Askinis: Of course, according to joint opinion of the Council we believe that establishing of the new institution named Cinema Centre is the most important issue on our program. Film Council is ready to transform into the Cinema Centre. Why do we actually need the Film Centre in Lithuania? There is no single organization gathering information about that how much the certain film earns, what is the price for selling a film, what amount is generated that could be invested into making new films. Actually, only two people in the Ministry of Culture and the members of Film Council- these few people are definitely not able to deal with all cinema related problems. Film Council has already dropped the documents for the new Film Centre and all your contributions, all your ideas will be valuable. We have discussed these things at the Cinematography Association with many producers, filmmakers, film directors and other cinema people. I hope all ideas heard well be useful.

T. S. Müller: Let’s discuss another very important issue, the public television or TV in general. In Finland there is collaboration between Film foundation and the public broadcaster named YLE for many years.

L. Passanen: First of all, I want to remind you how cold and dark Finland is. No matter, how big releases we would give, nobody would ever come to Finland to shoot any films. It’s pretty clear that if we hadn’t clear financial commitment from our state, governmental cinema policy and film support, there would not be any documentary film making or any fiction film making in Finland. And there is not too much money in Finland either, but we say: “if we don’t make Finnish fiction films, if we don’t make Finnish documentary films, there is nobody coming from let’s say Denmark and taking that job. It’s our duty, as a public broadcaster, as a government, as a Finnish Film Foundation to take care of these things”. We have a lot of documentary slots (besides fiction slots) on prime time in every of our 5 TV channels. We do a lot. We give 1,5 mln EUR every year to Finnish Film Foundation and then together we decide which films should be supported. Finnish Film Foundation gets money from the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Education and also takes money that comes from us. We have “Avec”, which is the kind of promotion centre for audiovisual culture handling the copyright money for audiovisual production as well. Even when we had very hard times film funding was not withdrawn. We’ve learned that it is really important. That is why we have an audience both: in cinema and in TV, which wants to watch Finish films. And it is quite successful. Nowadays we have feature and documentary filmmakers known well not only in local but also in international level. We have production companies, which can actually survive; they can earn their bread and butter by doing this. And we have a happy audience. So, it’s working. And as a TV person, I must say I am one of these commissioning editors who are interested in Lithuanian films very much. You really have talents in this country. Producers from France, Germany, Finland or Denmark would really be interested to invest in your film production, but first of all, you must support national cinema by yourselves. When negotiations concerning investment in film production start, first question that arises- is that film funded by its state? All the rest parties concerned can only co-finance.



R. Miskinyte: Why doesn’t national TV, a public broadcaster, cooperate with filmmakers, film funds in Lithuania? There isn’t any agreement on support of national film production and screenings between National TV which is subordinated to the Parliament and the Film Council, subordinated to the Ministry of Culture. Let’s say, Danish framework is very clear: film industry is supervised by the Ministry of Culture. Film Institute and public broadcaster are subordinated to the same ministry. Their cooperation is based on official commitments, agreements, concrete amounts and figures.

T. S. Müller: Danish Ministry of Culture has signed an agreement with Danish TV concerning national films broadcasting. There is “Public service control” between the Ministry of Culture and Danish TV: how much European and national film production should be broadcasted, how the public broadcaster should support film production. The politicians resolved to make such steps because they realised that Danish cinema industry was a promising and successful business branch.

G. Steponavicius: Generally, I would say that we lack a clear system of how film industry is to be financed. We have mentioned only the Film Council, but on an exceptional basis, you may get money from the government research fund. But I wanted to emphasize another point. I think that during our round table discussion we haven’t stressed that there should be a clear strategy for development of cinema industry. We should find ways to make this problem clearer for the decision makers. On the other hand, we have to adopt a clear and transparent model of how to distribute money for film production.



T. S. Müller: Open pitching?



G. Steponavicius: Why not? Recently we have had a scandal concerning dodgy financing process. You demand more money, but even currently available money is not being distributed transparently. Therefore, we should create a clear system, strategy, including the Film Centre or Foundation, whatever name it will have, defining the role of the public broadcaster and securing this new institution against undue interference from the Ministry of Culture and the Parliament. If we create the right system then later it will run by itself. Also we need a long-term and clear financial prospect. It will guarantee more stability for the process of filmmaking.

T. S. Müller: What does ex- minister of culture think of putting obligation on public broadcaster?

R. Zakaitienė: In Lithuanian cinema law there are some obligations for public broadcaster, TV has many ways how to promote national cinema. The Film Council has also a representative from TV, but actually there are no such projects which are financed both: by this council and TV. I like the idea realized in Denmark: to put more obligations on public broadcaster by law to promote national films and documentary. I think it’s quite possible to implement it in Lithuania as well.

R. Miskinytė: We can find some allusions of this kind in our law, but they are too vague. If you do not want to promote or support, you just do not do that, because it’s not obligatory.

A. Juzėnas: The problem is that public broadcaster doesn’t have money. Lots of times we have been talking to them about new projects, but unfortunately nothing ever was realized. They say they could give the promo time for your film when (if) it is finished. In my opinion, funds, the Government, public broadcaster and commercial TV cannels- all of them should cooperate and support cinema culture.

P. Kovas: First of all, I don’t agree with the name „public broadcaster“, it is state owned commercial broadcaster. It must be clearly defined in figures, budget percentages how the public broadcaster should support film production instead of competing with commercial TV channels.

A. Razgūnas: I just wanted to add that it’s very reasonable to put legal obligations in law for cooperation between the national TV and film industry. Because I think both of them are using the same money from state budget. It’s just not reasonable to take from one pocket and put into another. I also wanted to add that question of cooperation should not only concern real money, but also providing some services. Probably, national TV should give some free time for broadcasting films through TV.

K. Funk: I want to bring an example. We don’t have any interference from the Parliament or from other body. Estonian TV, which doesn’t have any efficient budget either, decided to cooperate with Estonian Film Foundation to create a series of 20 short documentaries each about half an hour long giving support of around 3000 EUR for each documentary. This initiative wasn’t made by order of somebody; it was a voluntary co operational agreement between both sides.

R. Miskinytė: Actually, recentlywe have been cooperating with our independent producers more and more closely. At the moment we are starting “projects’ package” funding. Actually, this is not financial support but mainly providing some services, equipments, transport, etc. Co-production between Lithuanian National TV and independent production houses has started to run up. Nevertheless such cooperation is not obligatory by law.

Z. Cepaitė: What you need for cooperation isgood will and interest, obligation is not necessary in this case.

R. Miskinytė: I think that our biggest problem is that all cooperation is based on personal background, personal contacts. People who are making decisions often change, so there should be an obligation, not personal, but legal for everybody who makes a decision.

A. Matelis: Ideas expressed here are nice. But how can I work with National TV if its equipments are so old-fashioned? We are looking for the reasons why we haven’t established Film institution 4-5 years ago, now we already wish to initiate an agreement between the public broadcaster and Film Council. For me this is like the ravings of the madman, like a dream. During the last 3-5 years we haven’t even been able to establish the Film Centre. Situation is really very pessimistic, but nevertheless we continue theoreticing instead of making concrete practical steps.

K. Drazdauskas: I’d like to go a little back, to the beginning of the discussion. Major part of the discussion was dedicated to the questions of legislation and governmental sponsorship. We’ve left tax breaks aside. I would like to say a few words about that. Film industry is different from any other industry. This is the industry, which travels. Tax breaks would not only guarantee that money will stay in Lithuania, but also would create better conditions for improvement of our creative and technical stuff. Right now cinema industry is choking in our country. We don’t have enough qualified manpower. Even if we rose the funding four times, I’m not sure whether we will have enough qualified professionals to create more films. Everything is interrelated. Tax brakes should be applied not only to foreigners, but also to local bodies. This could attract private funding into film production. At present private businesses are generally not interested in investing into film production. Although, from my own experience, I can assure that some of them would really like to. There are some companies, which give price breaks just for patriotic feelings. I can even say that most of the professionals from this industry work here because they just love it.

T. S. Müller: You have to be more aggressive, otherwise the politicians might say that they stand for Lithuanian cinema, but you yourselves are not very eager or don’t know exactly how to develop this sphere.

V. Jauniskis: First of all,Lithuanian films must be available for our audience. We should use all the possibilities: public TV, commercial TV channels and cinema theatres. Politicians and bureaucrats should finally realise that cinema industry can bring profit. Thank Mr. Müller for a good example that documentary film can make the same profit as Spielberg’s feature film only in much longer terms. Our politicians want to get immediate profit ignoring cultural value and long-term benefit. I do hope they will change their mind one day. It’s a pity, but as far as I’ve noticed, cultural sector has worst positions in state budget. Culture is condemned to prove its right to existence again and again.

T. S. Müller: Although we have been mainly talking about money issues, with your permission I would like to remind you that cinema is an art form and it needs public support. I came from Denmark, a small country, and I’m sure that without public support, contribution of Danish TV, there would be no film industry in Denmark. Lars von Trier would not be able to make his films without the support of MEDIA program, co-producers from different countries. I hope that you will already have Film Centre or Institute established, clear agreements between public broadcaster and film institution made by the time we meet each other in this same room again, let’s say in 2 years. Arūnas Matelis will be smiling. Sarūnas Bartas will have even more beautiful films created, which will be screened all over the world. Thanks everybody for the discussion today.

The transcription of the debate was kindly given to IDF by Rasa Miskinytė.