Pascal Couchepin, head of Switzerland's Federal Departmentof Home Affairs (EDI) has commissioned an independent report on the running ofSwitzerland's national film funding programme at the Federal Office for Culture(BAK).
The report, to evaluate BAK's criteria for grantingsubsidies, comes after previous criticisms by Couchepin of "lack oftransparency" and "too large a bureaucracy" at the fund.
In an interview during last week's Locarno Film Festival,Couchepin suggested that there was room for improvement in the state of Swisscinema: "I think the taxpayer ought to expect a bit more for his money.Compared to abroad, the Swiss cinema is comfortably funded by us today. But itseems to me that, again in comparison with abroad, it cannot keep up qualitatively,"he said.
Some industry insiders suggested that the commissioning ofthe report was a direct affront to BAK director David Streiff and the filmsection head Marc Wehrlin, while others argued that Couchepin had ordered thereport in response to the $400,000 (CHF500,000) subsidy awarded to Lea Fazer'sdebut feature Bienvenue En Suisse.Premiering at this year's Cannes Film festival, the film made fun of acharacter called Couchepin by alluding to the sexual connotations of the Frenchwords "coucher" (to have sex) and "pine" (penis).
The film was not particularly well-received in its homecountry as it pokes fun at everythingSwiss, from the country's obsession with cleanliness and punctuality through tochocolate, clocks and cheese.
Couchepin's spokesman Jean-Marc Crevoisier denied that thiswas the reason for the study and said that the EDI had regularly heardcriticism about the film section "from various quarters."