New Spanish culture minister named

Gonzalez-Sinde is president of Spanish Film Academy

MADRID -- The relationship between the Spanish film industry and the Socialist government here looked set to improve dramatically Tuesday as the president of the Spanish Film Academy was named the country's new culture minister.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero replaced Cesar Antonio Molina with writer-director Angeles Gonzalez-Sinde in a major government reshuffle that saw five new names appointed to the cabinet while other ministers switched ministries, as Zapatero looked to bolster his government a year after general elections.

Gonzalez-Sinde won a Goya award for best original screenplay in 1998 for Ricardo Franco's "La Buena Estrella" and another Goya for best new director for her 2003 directorial debut "Sleeping Luck."

Her appointment is the first time an industry insider has held the country's top culture post and the local film industry was celebrating Tuesday after the announcement.

"FAPAE, in the name of all the Spanish audiovisual producers it represents, would like to publicly show its satisfaction caused by the appointment," the producers lobby said in a statement. "Pedro Perez, as president of FAPAE, thinks this naming will open a new stage of collaboration."

Gonzalez-Sinde is likely to first attack Spain's rampant piracy problem, a situation that pushes the country to the top ranks of worldwide piracy, clocking some 20% of illegal downloads per year.

As president of the Academy, Gonzalez-Sinde has regularly spoken out against piracy and called on the government to strengthen national anti-piracy legislation, increase penalties on lawbreakers and push telecoms to monitor customer usage.