Spain’s minister of culture Angeles Gonzalez-Sinde made the surprise decision last night to remove Ignasi Guardans from his post as director general of Spain’s film institute, the ICAA, and will replace him with Carlos Cuatros, director of Spain’s film academy.

The decision has come as a shock to the industry as Guardans has been the driving force behind a new national film fund incentive worth $125m introduced in January that encourages more commercial, internationally minded projects to be made in Spain.

Guardans could not be reached for a comment, but posted a message on his Twitter site saying that he leaves “looking to the future with serenity and a clear conscience.”

Carlos Cuatros will leave his post as director of Spain’s film academy to take over as the new director general of the ICAA. Cuatros worked for several years with Gonzalez-Sinde at the film academy where she served as president before taking over as minister of culture in April last year.

The ICAA is an autonomous body within the ministry of culture which promotes, regulates and funds cinema and A/V activities in Spain, including film production, distribution and exhibition.

As news of the move filtered through to the industry this morning, the reaction has been one of shock and uncertainty.

“This was a bolt out of the blue. With the new film fund in place and attracting big projects like Juan Antonio Bayona’s The Impossible, starring Ewan McGregor, and Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s Intruders, starring Clive Owen, we thought finally the industry was moving in the right direction,” one leading producer told ScreenDaily. “Now we don’t know what to expect under another new director general. I just hope we don’t revert back to supporting small budget local cultural films only.”

Another senior Spanish film executive admitted that Guardans was a strong personality willing to stand up to some of the more conservative, traditional film-makers and politicians, which meant he rubbed some people up the wrong way, but they were “surprised and disappointed” that he was removed from his post.

Guardans previously served as a liberal member of the European Parliamentcommittee on education and culture.