Portugal Delays Implementing New Cinema Law

 Berlinale Film Festival

Portugal has again delayed putting into effect a new cinema law which would restart subsidy payments to its troubled film industry.

Production in the Mediterranean country has ground to a halt as Portugal struggles through the economic crisis gripping southern Europe and the government has put all subsidies on hold.

A new cinema law, approved this summer, would get the subsidy money flowing once again for the Portuguese audiovisual sector. But secretary of state for culture Jorge Barreto Xavier said the law will not be published as planned this week, meaning the implementation of the law could be further delayed.

Xavier, however, said he would go ahead with the opening of applications for subsidy aid for new film projects as planned early next year.

Fears that the law would be further delayed sparked an online protest by Portugal's filmmakers. A number of the country's most prominent directors, including Manoel de Oliveira, Joao Botelho, Miguel Gomes and Teresa Villaverde signed a letter of protest, titled “Portuguese cinema blocked!” published on the official blog of the Portuguese film director's association blog.

The letter claims the Porto government lacks “the political will” to enforce “the law that it drafted.”

Ironically, 2012 has been a banner year for Portuguese cinema. Gomes' Tabu won the Alfred Bauer Award and the international film critics FIPRESCI prize at the Berlin Film Festival, with Rafa from compatriot Joao Salaviza taking Berlin's Golden Bear for best short. And period drama The Lines of Wellington from Portuguese director Valeria Sarmiento made the competition cut at this year's Venice Film Festival.

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