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Ukrainian National Film Funding Falling, Producers Say

Ukraine Crisis bicycle cinema H
Stuart Farmer
Oscar-nominated doc "The Square" about the Egyptian revolution is given a guerrilla screening inside Kiev's barricaded city square.

The local motion picture association says that despite promises to increase film funding, the crisis-hit country has been scaling back its contribution to the industry.

Ukrainian producers are predicting hard times ahead for filmmakers in the crisis-stricken country.

National film funding had been falling year on year over the past three years, despite earlier promises that it would rise. Grants this year are expected to be around $13.5 million -- $4 million less than last year, the Motion Picture Association of Ukraine says.

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"The idea has been to increase funding each year, but actually since 2012 it has dropped each year," association head Igor Savychenko told The Hollywood Reporter. "A lot of projects were launched and are still trying to complete financing."

Delays by the country's state film agency in December to set a budget for 2014 were having a knock-on effect, and producers are expecting there to be only one round of project pitching this year instead of two, Savychenko added.

A date for the first, possibly only pitching session is due to be announced in mid-February, probably after the closing of the Berlin Film Festival.

The delays and budget shortfall -- in 2012, $23 million (17 million euros) was available; last year, $17.5 million (13 millin euros) -- were not directly related to Ukraine's current political stalemate, now in its third month of standoffs between the government and opposition activists, who are occupying buildings and barricaded streets and squares in the center of Kiev.

But the crisis certainly hasn't helped, Savychenko noted.