Switzerland Cuts Film Subsidies as Tri-Lateral Co-Pro Treaty Takes Effect

Agreement between Switzerland, Germany and Austria comes into effect, but Swiss cinema hit by cost-cutting.

BERLIN - Switzerland has cut back on subsidies to its tiny national film industry just as a new trilateral co-production treaty between Switzerland, Germany and Austria is kicking off.

The Swiss Federal Office of Culture is chopping its distribution support program, which handed out up to $20,000 (25,000 Swiss Francs) to help finance the release of Swiss films in Europe. Films that benefited from the program in the past include Jean Luc Godard's Film Socialisme and La Petite Chambre, the drama from directors Stephanie Chuat and Veronique Reymond that was Switzerland's official entry for the 2011 Foreign Language Oscar race.

Switzerland has also axed its support for European film industry portal cineuropa.org. And Swiss Films, the government body that promotes the country's films abroad, could be next. Swiss Films is set to lose some 20 percent of its annual funding, around $1.6 million, from cultural foundation Pro Helvetia after next year and it is not clear if the Swiss government will make up the difference.

The cuts come as a new trilateral agreement intended to encourage co-productions between Switzerland, Germany and Austria comes into effect. Under the new accord, co-producing territories will have to contribute a minimum of 20 percent of a film's budget, down from 30 percent. In exceptional cases, a co-producing territory may be allowed to participate, contributing just 10 percent of the budget. It's hoped the new rules will make it easier to set up cross-border productions, particularly for German-language features, since all three countries are majority German-speaking.

comments powered by Disqus