Czech Republic taps Trestikova

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Filmmaker Helena Trestikova is poised to become the Czech Republic's new culture minister.

Trestikova, 57, will replace former culture chief Cyril Svoboda after center-right party the Christian Democrats proposed her as part of a last-minute political deal to create a new cabinet in Premier Mirek Topolanek's government.

President Vaclav Klaus is expected to confirm the new 18-member cabinet next week following six months of political deadlock after June's hung parliamentary elections in the Central European country.

Trestikova, famed for her documentary films about the relationships of six married couples, which she began shooting in 1981, is politically independent and known as a strong film industry advocate.

A popular choice among filmmakers and producers, she is one of the three spokespersons of the new Czech Film Board that was established in November to unify different interest groups following the collapse of a long-fought-for film law in May.

The law — which would have provided an annual injection of about $15 million for Czech filmmakers through a levy on television and film advertising, ticket sales and other sources — was vetoed by President Klaus, who opposed what he saw as public subsidies for a private industry.

A revised law is now in the cards.

It is backed by independent research commissioned by the Culture Ministry that stresses the economic benefits of encouraging film production, such as new measures in neighboring Poland and Hungary, where tax and other incentives are proving attractive to international co-productions.

Jana Cernik, head of the Czech Film Center, Prague, said Klaus was expected to confirm the new cabinet appointments next week.

"She is popular, and even one of the three spokespersons — along with (Karlovy Vary Film Festival president) Jiri Bartoska and (producer) Ivo Mathe — of the new film board," Cernik said Thursday.
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