26-10-2020

Delayed Payments Jeopardise Slovenian Film Production

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LJUBLJANA: Slovenian filmmakers are disappointed and concerned about not receiving funds for various film projects through already signed contracts with the Slovenian Film Centre (SFC) for several months. Many of them are still waiting for the payments for their work, which was already done more than a year ago. Because of these problems also some current projects have been stopped, postponed or even jeopardised.

"The year 2020 is an extreme year. Problems caused by the COVID-19 in the field of film in Slovenia have worsened even further because of the difficulties in drawing film funds from the state budget. At the Film Centre we hope that the last state budget redraft will enable the release of the funds, which will make continuous film production in Slovenia possible," Nataša Bučar, the director of the Slovenian Film Centre comments on the situation for FNE.

The SFC addressed the Slovenian Ministry of Culture with this issue several times. The Film Centre pointed out that it is essential and crucial that the government releases funds and gives approval to finance the proposed film projects (which have been waiting for it since March this year) as soon as possible, as there is only one month left to carry out all the procedures within the legal deadlines.

At the parliamentary session of 19 October no answers as to why the current government cannot release the funds were given, nor any further actions taken.

In September the Slovenian director Vinci Vogue Anžlovar pointed out the financial problems with shooting the black comedy Grandpa Goes South produced by A Atalanta in coproduction with Sektor film (North Macedonia) and MP Films (Croatia). Since they haven't received the money, already secured by the contract with the Slovenian Film Centre, they were forced to take a loan to continue the first part of the shooting they had already started. "Also many producers cannot start with the production because the state has been delaying the release of the funds, which the SFC is contractually obligated to pay in instalments so that the films can be financed," producer Danijel Hočevar told FNE.

In early October Slovenian filmmakers published a protest video "Who stopped the Slovenian Film?" in which they expressed their deep concern about the future of Slovenian cinematography, saying that the reason for that situation is a government blockade that prevents the release of the funds. In their opinion the Slovenian state is violating its contractual obligations and is causing big cultural and economic damage in the audiovisual sector, which employs around 1400 people. More than fifty producers, directors, actors, actresses and other filmmakers participated in the video explaining (in word or silently) that they haven't been fully paid for their work for this and last year, pointing out that this problem is not related to the Coronavirus issue.

"Slovenian filmmakers, actors, workers and producers have been warning the responsible institutions and the government since May 2020 about the destructive consequences of halting the public financing of our national film programme. Payment requests issued in February for the work that was done in November and December of 2019, have not been fulfilled until this day. Because of arbitrary actions of the Slovenian government, the financing of 31 projects has been put on hold, 23 of them are Slovenian full feature films and 6 are coproductions. This means that only 18 percent of the 2020 budget for the SFC has been realised. Aside from not fully paying the contractual obligations for the years 2018 and 2019, the halt in the money flow has also stopped almost all current production", said Klemen Dvornik, the president of the Slovenian Federation of Filmmakers' Guilds.

The Slovenian Federation of Filmmakers' Guilds includes the Directors Guild of Slovenia, DSR Screenwriters, Slovene Association of Cinematographers, Slovenian Animated Film Association, Association of Slovenian Film Producers, Association of Audiovisual Producers of Slovenia, Screen Actors Guild of Slovenia and Association of Postproduction Artists.