Ukraine's State Funding Hits Five-Year Low

AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

Looking for extra cash, legislators mull raising exhibition license fees.

The figure of state funding, earmarked for Ukraine’s film industry in 2015, is to be the lowest since 2010, while Ukrainian legislators consider a sharp rise in exhibition fees as a potential source of extra cash for the sector.

This year, Ukrainian filmmakers are to collect $4.9 million (75.5 million Ukrainian hryvnias), a sharp decline from just a few years ago, when the government distributed $22 million a year among filmmakers.

The dramatic decline in funding threatens to throw the industry back to an era before major reforms in the sector, which were widely believed to put it back on track after nearly 20 years in shambles.

However, the reforms came to a halt last year when the government found itself cash-strapped following the Maidan revolution, which toppled president Viktor Yanukovych, and subsequent annexation of Crimean peninsula by Russia and military clashes between government forces and separatists in Eastern Ukraine.

As a result, less than 20 percent of $10.6 million originally earmarked last year has been actually disbursed to filmmakers to date.

The same might happen this year as the culture ministry complained that once it paid all the money subsidies it still owes filmmakers for previously approved projects, it may not have any cash left, the online newspaper Vesti.ua reported.

In a bid to generate more cash for the film sector, Ukrainian legislators are considering a dramatic raise in fees for exhibition licenses from the current $5.3 (83 hryvnias) per film.

"We are proposing exhibition license fees of 400 hryvnias [$26] per minute for films from Russia, as an aggressor country, and 200 hryvnias [$13] per minute for American films," Nikolai Knyazhitskiy, head of the culture and spirituality committee at the Supreme Rada, Ukraine's parliament, was quoted as saying by Vesti.ua. He added that the hike in license fees would bring in an extra $50 million.

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