The Spanish film industry, as surprised as the rest ofsociety by the upset in last week's national elections, is lookingforward to positive changes under a new Socialist government.
But with only vague electoral promises and the generous filmpolicies of the party's prior 14-year reign to go on, the industry mustnow wait to see what the future holds when Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero takesover the presidency as expected next month.
A key talking point will be increasing funding for thenation's under-fed Cinema Protection Fund, which fell years behind onautomatic subsidy payments until a one-off injection last December nearlydoubled its 2004 budget to Euros 61m.
"The most important thing for producers is that theFund have enough money to cover its legal compromises," says veteranproducer Andres Vicente Gomez, recommending a minimal Euros 150m annually tocover Spain's "production capacity" of 120 to 140 films inthe Euros 2.5m-3.5m budget range.
Pedro Perez, president of the Spanish Producers' FederationFAPAE, aims for a more modest Euros 70m to cover 70 to 100 films per year:"We need to define how many films the market can absorb each year andmake sure the Fund is sufficient to cover that activity."
FAPAE also wisely opened talks with both political partiesprior to elections on its proposal to raise tax deductions on privateinvestment in film and TV productions from 5% to 20%.
Insiders optimistically cite Socialist interest in followingneighbouring France's enviable model of state support for film andtelevision. Toward that end, Gomez suggests transforming the Spanish FilmInstitute ICAA into a CNC-like body encompassing everything from subsidies andTV production to training, festivals and international dissemination.
The film collective was among the most outspoken critics ofthe ousted Popular Party, and has also proven among the most jubilant over theSocialist win.
In his glee, Pedro Almodovar may have gone too far at lastweek's press conference for Bad Education (La Mala Educacion), repeating e-mail rumours of a supposed coupd'etat planned by the PP prior to the elections. He could face a lawsuitfor slander as a result.