Czech film fund cut faces multiple remedies

By Radovan Holub

    After criticism from a huge cut in state film funding, Mirek Topolanek, the Prime Minster of the Czech Republic, has promised €3.5 million of state money for Czech filmmakers later this year, but that's only if other plans for revenue do not work out.

    The Czech Film Fund could receive a much-needed boost from public TV advertisement once a new digital law sets in power in 2008. A new tax on advertisements would bring in one-third of TV advertisement revenue from the public channels. The sum going towards state films could be up to €6 million a year.

    Last year, €3.5 million was given to the state film industry, but that amount was cut earlier this year. Those funds enabled the production of more Czech films (currently 40 films are in production), but the state operated Czech Film Fund is still in a state of emergency. After the cut, the fund's budget for this year is only €2 million.

    "The prime minister said that the Czech film legislation must be solved systematically," commented filmmaker Helena Trestikova. She was also the Czech Minister of Culture for only a few days previously this year and then resigned.The chairman of the Czech Film Fund, Tomas Baldynsky, appreciates new results as well. "Financial input into the Czech Film Fund is flabby and does not have stable sources," Baldynsky said. "The recent drop-out of the fund is not defensible any more. Advertisement revenues would fuel the Czech film production, so the perspectives are not so bad as it seemed some weeks ago."

    Baldynsky would rather prefer a standard European film law for the Czech filmmakers, but the time range for such a law is uncertain. The film law could get into the legislation process later this year and be enforced as soon as January 2009.

    If neither plan works out, the €3.5 million promised by Prime Minister Topolanek will be the course of action.