Finnish film production will be brought to a halt if the government does not fulfil a alleged promise of an extra $1.6m (Euros 1.2m) subsidy.
At a press conference in Helsinki, 30 feature film producers announcedthey will not start new projects until their demand has been met.
'If not they can take the total amount of film support in 2008 and give it to the National Opera,' they said in a declaration signed by such producers as Aleksi Bardy, Jorn Donner, Tero Kaukomaa, Ilkka Matila, Claes Olsson, Marko Röhr and Markus Selin.
The producers claim that in June culture minister Stefan Wallin promised he would up production funding - which is covered by state lottery revenue - by $1.6m (Euros 1.2 million) in 2008. When the state culture budget was published, however, the 8% increase had disappeared.
'During the last 10 years, local films have controlled 15%-25% of the Finnish market, and we are proud of that. In the meantime production costs have doubled, while maximum subsidy for a film is the same, so a film has to sell at least 150,000 tickets to break even.
'We have found partners outside the industry who contribute an annual $6.7m (Euros 5m) Finnish films. Still - if the government continues its short-sighted policy - we are left to do 10 films a year full of compromises, so they will hopefully reach the necessary number of admissions.'
Emphasising that their action is not directed against the Finnish Film Foundation, distributors, exhibitors or audiences, the producers have agreed to complete the films that have already been supported, but to discontinue the work on new projects.
Culture minister Wallin admitted the increase had been mentioned, but lottery profits were less than anticipated, and all areas of culture would be affected. He would, though, 'go through the possibilities for increasing film funding in a positive spirit.'
'The worst damage to the continuity of film production and film culture is done if producers stop producing. Funding is not allocated under duress but to support high quality Finnish film production,' the minister said in a reaction to the producers' statement.
The Finnish film industry receives $18.3m (Euros 13.5m) state funding for an annual outlet of 10-14 features. The Finnish Film Foundation estimated that if the conflict continues, 17 productions would be postponed, including Finnish Hollywood-director Renny Harlin's $15.8-18.8m (Euros 12-Euros 14m) biopic of Finnish historical legend CGE Mannerheim, to shoot for Solar Films.