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The Portuguese cinema is in crisis

Portuguese cinema is in crisis. The government decided to regulate the film sector. During the film festival of Berlin a letter of protest was signed by over 500 personalities worldwide. And this week a new letter was published by local daily Público. It includes input from over 100 young directors.  Those filmmakers are trying to save the ICA, The Institute of Cinema and Audiovisual is a public institute integrated in the indirect administration of the State, endowed with administrative and financial autonomy and its own heritage, under the Secretary of State for Culture whose mission is to support the development cinematographic and audiovisual activities, and are questioning the government decisions like the role of SECA (a Portuguese acronym standing for the Specialised Section for Cinema and Audiovisual).

SECA is an entity that gathers together exhibitors, distributors, producers, filmmakers, scriptwriters, TV broadcasters and operators. In effect, some of these are also funders of the system, since they pay annual exhibition fees, which are then used to co-finance the industry.

“For those people who, like us, were born and raised in a democracy, it is an unprecedented event to see a public body such as the ICA being robbed and manipulated in this way, losing its independence and regressing to the stage of a legal, political and intellectual minority,” states the letter. The ICA, they argue, should not be reduced to a “mere distributor of public money”.

The government is trying to stop the protests by announcing, earlier this year, that the new regulations of the Film Law would only take effect in 2018. However the government didn’t divulge there plans for 2017 which has made the sector very nervous.

Stanley Berenboom

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