New law will decrease dependence of film production on state budget.
Proposals for a new film law has been presented to representatives of the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Sarajevo Film Festival.
The working body which designed it - Amer Kapetanovic, president of the management board of Film Fund Sarajevo; Jovan Marjanovic, head of industry at the Fund; Amra Baksic Camo, CEO of production company Pro.ba; and Lejla Kablar from Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Foreign Policy Initiative - spoke about the bill to 15 members of the Parliament and Minister of Culture Semir Kaplan.
The current cinema law of the Federation of BH dates back to 1990, and requires updating for today’s conditions, in which Bosnia has to rely on co-productions to be able to make films with average budget on par with the neighbouring countries, which is about $1.3m (€1m).
Out of 33 feature films made in the territory over the past five years, 27 were co-productions and only 11 of these were majority Bosnian.
The Federation’s Film Fund Sarajevo finances film productions and other related activities with an annual budget of $1.5m (€1.1m).
The country makes an average of 5.5 films a year, and has financed internationally renowned titles such as for Jasmila Zbanic’s Grbavica (Berlin Golden Bear, 2006); Srdjan Vuletic’s Summer in the Golden Valley (Rotterdam Tiger, 2004); Aida Begic’s Snow (Cannes Critics Week Grand Prize, 2008); and most recently Danis Tanovic’s An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker (two Silver Bears at this year’s Berlinale).
But this year projects, worth $30.7m (€23m), were submitted to the Film Fund Sarajevo which was able to give out only $1.2m (€900,000).
Kapetanovic said: “We are in crisis because film production in Bosnia has become completely dependent on the state budget.
“Our audiovisual sector is very vibrant, generates profit and represents cultural diplomacy for the country. Bosnia is clearly too slow in approaching the EU, but the audiovisual sector has to be our number one priority as it is the one which has come closest to the EU level with the entry into the MEDIA Programme.
“In order to fully harmonise regulations with those of the EU we need a proper film law which will change the way of film financing.”
The bill proposes two systemic solutions: in which ways the films are funded and what kind of body is established to administer them, as well as a number of practicalities related to all segments of the film industry.
The bill is not restrictive and is meant to facilitate all segments and make them logical, including allowing production companies to provide services to foreign producers and build their businesses in the best possible way. It also covers distribution and exhibition with particular accent on copyright and protection of minors.
Funding-wise, the idea is to introduce the principle that all companies who profit from distribution of audiovisual works – production companies, public and private TV stations, internet and telecommunication providers – participate in financing the creation of local content by paying proportionally to their overall income.
“Considering the size of the market and development level of all players in the chain, we believe that indirect financial participation through a joint fund is the model closest to our current practice and culture,” said Marjanovic.
Boost to state budget
The audiovisual sector has been contributing to the state budget and local development and continues to do so.
“We were filming [Danis Tanovic’s] Circus Columbia in Capljina, a small and underdeveloped municipality,” said Baksic Camo.
“For two months of our stay there, the production dramatically changed the situation of such a small community. It was not a lot of money, but the effect was strong.
“To put it simply, just having 70 new people having dinner every night in local restaurants, let alone employing the local population, makes a huge difference. And on the wider level, 25% of the budget of a film goes back to the state directly through taxes.”
Institutionally, Film Fund Sarajevo and Film Centre Sarajevo, which was key in preserving the companies and heritage from the time of former Yugoslavia but has not found a new role in the new circumstances, will be combined into one body - the Federal Audiovisual Agency - that will function more efficiently and be more feasible.