Slovenian producers arefacing a bleak future at home following radical changes in the film supportpolicies at the country's Ministry of Culture.

The new harsher climate wasushered in with the dismissal of the Slovenian Film Fund's director IreneOstrouska with immediate effect for allegedly not coming up to the Ministry'sexpectations.

In addition, funding hasbeen put on hold for projects selected at the Film Fund's last deadline. Thoseprojects include Blaz Kutin's debut feature Larawhich had won the MEDIA New Talent of the European Union Award at this year'sCannes Film Festival and was presented at the CineLink co-production market in Sarajevo in August . This fundingstoppage had made it practically impossible for the Slovenian producers to lookfor money abroad as they were no longer assured of the initial support fromhome.

"The Ministry'sattitude is that nobody did anything good or worthwhile up until now inSlovenian cinema. Instead of preparing projects and making Eurimagesapplications we are now back at the very beginning and don't know whom we canapproach," one Ljubljana-based producer told

"The situation in Slovenia is really very bad, if not catastrophic, especiallyfor those who were working in the last ten years," another leadingproducer explained. "The worst of it is that people who are successfulhave no chances in the future."

"It is a completelycrazy situation and is like you are living in a parallel world," theproducer continued. "Instead of being happy that your nation's films havebeen successful over the past four years, someone comes along and says: 'No,this isnt worth anything at all. It seems that no other explanation is worthyof discussion. It is like in the times we had hoped were now in the past.'"

While the productioncommunity has been trying to lobby the Ministry to backtrack on this retrogradepolicy toward cinema, Slovenian producers are looking to colleagues from abroadwho would vouch "that we are capable and honest and honour our contractsand that none of the Slovenian producers or co-producers was ever accused ofany financial fraud," as one producer put it.

Between 2001-2005, theSlovenian Film Fund - which was founded in 1994 - co-financed 25 feature films, includingDamjan Kozole's Spare Parts, MajaWeiss' Guardian Of The Frontier, andJan Cvitkovic's Gravehopping as wellas such international co-productions as the Oscar-winning No Man's Land, Srdjan Koljevic's Red Coloured Grey Truck and Teona Mitevsksa's I'm From Titov Veles.