Romanian Filmmakers Worry About Proposed Change to Film Fund Law

They oppose new legislation in which half of the cash earmarked for local productions would go toward the renovation and construction of movie theaters.

MOSCOW -- Romanian filmmakers are concerned about plans to change the film funding system in the country, which would involve half of the cash earmarked for the film sector going to the renovation and construction of movie theaters.

Several Romanian filmmakers, including award winning directors Cristi Puiu and Calin Peter Netzer and producer Ada Solomon sent an open letter to Prime Minister Victor Ponta, in which they expressed concerns over the recently proposed law on decentralization, Romanian wire service Mediafax reported.

Under the proposed law, one half of the budget of the Film Fund, administrated by the National Center for Cinema, would be spent locally and on renovation of existing film theaters and construction of new ones as opposed to film production.

The budget of the Film Fund, which is controlled by the government but filled from private-sector revenues, such as advertising and movie sales, has already significantly declined over the last few years. In 2012, it was $7.5 million (25 million Romanian Lei), compared with $12 million (40 million Romanian Lei) in 2007.

So, filmmakers fear that a further decline in available funds could have a negative impact on film production in the country. They are also worried that under the decentralization scheme, movie theaters currently run by RADEF România Film, would be transferred from local authorities’ control and converted to other uses. The filmmakers used the example of a previous transfer of more than 100 movie theaters to local control five years ago, of which only three still operate as film theaters.

Ponta responded to the address, reassuring the filmmakers that production funds won’t be cut, but the scheme for decentralization of movie theaters will go ahead.