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INSTITUTIONS / LEGISLATION Romania

160 Romanian filmmakers appeal to local institutions for adequate measures during the crisis

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- Hasty decisions by a National Film Center that seems to have gone into hiding have caused quite a stir in the local film industry

160 Romanian filmmakers appeal to local institutions for adequate measures during the crisis
Anca Mitran, the director of the Romanian National Film Center

A total of 160 Romanian filmmakers and film professionals have sent a public appeal to the local National Film Center and the Ministry of Culture, asking for adequate measures to counteract the devastating and long-lasting effects that the coronavirus lockdown will have on the film industry. Their reaction is justified by several decisions made by a centre that even seems determined to put on hold those film operations that may have continued even under lockdown.

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Last week, the centre announced on its website that the institution would all but cease its financial activity, making payments only to films in post-production. The filmmakers' appeal addressed to Anca Mitran, the director of the centre, and the six members of the board mentions that the centre’s decisions “generate a climate of uncertainty and make the industry feel that the institution is not at all interested in solving the issues now being faced by the filmmakers […], blocking all the operations that could go on remotely and that might help the industry recover more swiftly after the restrictions are lifted”.

The filmmakers’ main concern is that the centre has stopped signing all contracts and has indefinitely postponed payments to projects in development, those in pre-production and those that have halted production because of the lockdown, which “renders quasi-impossible the efforts to prepare projects that could start (or continue) shooting as soon as the restrictions are lifted”. These payments are of paramount importance for the cash flow needed in order to prepare the shoots, the filmmakers state in their appeal. They also say that the financial uncertainty caused by the centre’s decisions will undermine the producers’ efforts to contract suppliers.

The appeal also mentions that the centre’s decision to stop approving any contracts for film distribution and film-related cultural events will profoundly affect the entities working in these fields. The appeal states that the decision will only lead to a literal suffocation in the future, as too many cultural entities will be forced to squeeze their events into an oversaturated calendar when the restrictions are lifted.

Finally, another cause for concern is the fact that the centre has indefinitely postponed the announcement of the winning projects in its most recent funding competition, initially scheduled for the end of April. In their appeal, the filmmakers complain that this decision practically puts the production companies in an impossible situation, preventing them from planning further into the future and thus increasing overall uncertainty in the industry.

The appeal has been signed by 160 producers, directors, distributors and festival organisers.

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