Romanian Government Gives In to Filmmakers' Demands

Controversial proposals, which critics said would have reduced film funding and handed control over film theaters to local government authorities, are scrapped.

MOSCOW -- The Romanian government has given in to filmmakers' protests about planned changes to film funding rules and control over cinemas, canceling a controversial plan proposed earlier this month.

At the start of November, several prominent Romanian filmmakers, including award-winning directors Cristi Puiu and Calin Peter Netzer and producer Ada Solomon, sent an open letter to the government, voicing concerns over proposed changes, which would have led to a decline in funding for the film industry through the country's Film Fund.

The planned changes also would have transferred control over movie theaters from current operator RADEF Romania Film to local government authorities.

Under the proposal, 50 percent of all public funds earmarked for the film sector would have to be spent on renovation of old cinemas and construction of new ones. Meanwhile, the transfer of movie theaters under control of local councils could have resulted in losing many of them, as it was the case with more than 100 movie theaters transferred to local control five years ago, critics said. Of those theaters transferred back then, only three still operate as film theaters, filmmakers noted.

Responding to the filmmakers' protests, the government agreed to scrap the proposed decentralization law changes concerning theaters.

However, public funding for the film industry in the country remains problematic, according to observers. They emphasize that the budget of the Film Fund, administrated by the National Center for Cinema, has declined by more than 30 percent over the last five years.