FNE in KVIFF: Lithuanian Film Industry Struggles With Major Funding Cuts and Stalled Film Law

    KARLOVY VARY: Lithuanian filmmakers are facing major obstacles with government funding cut from 2m Euros last year to just over 1m Euros this year. Adding to the small film industry's woes is the indefinite delay of the long awaited new Lithuanian film law which would have guaranteed support for film production.

    Lithuania makes only two or three feature films a year and some years even none at all. The country has long lagged behind its Baltic neighbours in not having a film institution to fund and promote its audiovisual sector. A long awaited and carefully prepared new film law that would have established such a body has been shelved by the Ministry of Culture apparently indefinitely and funding for 2009 looks like it will be only a little more than half of what it was in 2008.

    Despite these problems Lithuanian producer Ieva Norviliene who helms Tremora Productions (www.tremora.com) says her projects are going ahead and she is optimistic about the future. Norviliene was in KVIFF together with her director Ignas Miskinis to present her new film Low Lights which had its world premier in the East of the West competition this week.

    "We have just completed Low Lights, a 1.2m Euro film a Lithuanian coproduction which is a very large budget for Lithuania and I am already preparing my next project," said Norviliene.

    Low Lights which is a coproduction with with dagstar*film (http://www.dagstarfilm.de/) of Germany already has a 22 November release date set for Germany and been sold for distribution in German speaking territories. The film is set to be released in Lithuania at the end of October.

    "I am really not afraid of the financial crisis. Our production company is preparation for our next film, a project by Lithuanian director and scriptwriter Kristina Buozyte with a working title of Aurora and I already have European partners in place in Ireland and France,"said Norviliene. "Attending coproduction workshops organized by EU MEDIA and coproduction meetings such as those in Sofia and Cottbus FF have helped by to find coproducers and sales agents for my films."

    Low Lights participated in an EAVE workshop and received funding for Eurimages as well as from the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture. Majority funding came from German partners dagstar*film who received funding from Filmstifung NRW and German Federal Film Fund (DFFF).