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Big contestation in the film sector in Portugal as Government tries to pass new film law

Portugal is the first country of the European Union to try to approve legislation regulating the European Directive that urges national governments to make multinational companies providing streaming services (OTTs) to contribute to the development of the national production.
 
Portuguese Government’s proposed bill will not force international streaming services (Netflix, HBO, etc.) to contribute with taxes, and exempts OTTs as well from the payment of any levy to the national Film Fund (ICA). As ICA officials predict loss of funds due to the downfall of its financial sources (from audiovisual advertisement and contributions from national players), the legislation might mean, in the medium term, the depletion of ICA’s financial resources, endangering its current model of operations. In practical terms, fears have been raised that the bill aims to give decisive power to the international OTTs in the decisions concerning Portuguese film production.
 
A demonstration has been promoted for tomorrow at 8.30 am in front of the Portuguese Parliament by a newly created federation of Portuguese Film Students. The students have received public support by  Associação Portuguesa de Realizadores (APR) / Produtores de Cinema Independente Associados (PCIA) / Curtas Vila do Conde / Agência da Curta Metragem / DocLisboa / IndieLisboa / Monstra / Casa da Animação / APNEIA (Associação de Produtores do Norte e Empresários Independentes do Audiovisual) / QueerLisboa / PortoPostDoc / AporDoc / Portugal Film / Cena-Ste (Sindicato dos Trabalhadores de Espectáculos, do Audiovisual e dos Músicos) / Manifesto em Defesa pela Cultura  and Pelo Cinema Português, the latter, a new movement authoring the letter "The Portuguese Government announces the death of Portuguese Cinema", subscribed by the most varied directors some of the most internationally acclaimed Portuguese directors and producers, among them:
 
Directors
Pedro Costa
Miguel Gomes
Teresa Villaverde
João Nicolau
João Pedro Rodrigues
João Salaviza
Gabriel Abrantes
Salomé Lamas
Leonor Teles
Diogo Costa Amarante
Sandro Aguilar
João Botelho
Susana Sousa Dias
Carlos Conceição
Catarina Vasconcelos
Cláudia Varejão
Aya Koretzy
Jorge Jácome
Margarida Gil
Maria de Medeiros
Pedro Pinho
Mariana Gaivão
Marta Mateus
 
Producers
Paulo Branco
Luís Urbano
Pedro Fernandes Duarte
Filipa Reis
Abel Ribeiro Chaves
Maria João Mayer
 
The official call for protest reads:
“This Tuesday, October 20th, at 9 am, a proposal to change the Portuguese national Cinema Law will be voted on the Portuguese Parliament. The proposal comes as a response to an European Directive designed to compel streaming platforms to contribute to European cinema and audiovisual in each country, but fails on doing so, exempting on-demand video operators, such as Netflix and HBO, from paying levies (fees), which they collect from the monthly subscriptions of Portuguese costumers, and, thus, from contributing to ICA - the public film fund, the institute that regulates and promotes the national cinema and audiovisual. ICA is currently financed by two fees – one on advertising and one on cable television subscriptions. With the migration of viewers to streaming platforms, revenue from the television advertising, cable tv subscription fees, or theatrical advertising is on a downward trend; if the platforms, which increasingly dominate the market, are not taxed, ICA will be gradually depleted, and less and less Portuguese films will be produced. If filming in Portugal is already difficult, it will be even more so. With this cut on ICA funding, producers, distributors, exhibitors, festivals, film clubs, among others, will be deeply affected. Changing the Cinema Law is a historic opportunity to improve and strengthen ICA with more funding; instead of that, this proposal subjugates the national film production to the private streaming companies, leaving us completely dependent on them for funding, without a public and national alternative. As film students, we fear that more and more of our projects will remain on paper and that we will have even less job expectations and less opportunities to create freely. It is time to join the hundreds of Portuguese cinema professionals and fight together against the handover of the sovereignty of our national cinema to international corporations. We therefore call on all film students, cinema and art professionals, and everyone who wants to show solidarity with this struggle to join us in a gathering in front of the Parliament on Tuesday, at 8:30 am, to demand the repeal of this Law proposal. If we don't do it now, we will lose our artistic freedom as well as the cultural identity of Portuguese cinema, which we cherish and want to preserve. There is no point in studying film if later we will be hindered from making it and forced to surrender to the criteria and taste policies of international corporations. The right to Culture is a constitutional right. We demand a public cultural policy, not a national culture regulated by private interests".
 
The new film law is set to be voted and approved in the Portuguese parliament by the end of the day tomorrow, Tuesday, the 20th of October.
 
   

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About Fantasporto

Dorminsky Mario
(Fantasporto)

40th OPORTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL runs Feb 28, March 7

The Oporto International Film Festival, specializes in fantasy and science-fiction films in its Official Competitive section.
This Festival also includes the 18th New Directors Week with an Official Competition and a Retrospective section. The Festival’s director, Mário Dorminsky, is preparing, with the help of the Portuguese Film Institute, a program with Portuguese Films for the benefit of the foreign guests in Fantasporto.
The Festival runs now in 5 theatres (2,600 seats altogether ) and screens nearly new 200 feature films each year. The press coverage of the Festival is made by all the most important Portuguese newspapers, radio stations and television networks and by foreign specialized press. This allows press dossiers of about 5000 clippings every year and represents a unique media coverage in Portugal for similar cultural events.

Almost 110,000 entries, per year is the average of the Festival’s past editions.

 

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