Croatian Filmmakers Stand United to Defend Film Sector Against Political Interference
With their initiative 'Puk'o nam je film' (Stand Up for Croatian Cinema), Croatian filmmakers have united to defend the Croatian film sector against political interference and control. Hundreds of filmmakers demonstrated in Zagreb this week to express their deep concerns regarding political developments that may lead to censorship and increased state intervention throughout the Croatian audiovisual industry.
gather to defend the independence of the Croatian film
The independence of the Croatian cinema and film sector is at stake according to filmmakers all across Croatia, many of whom gathered in Kino Europa (Cinema Europa) in Zagreb on Monday to make aware of an impending film-political crisis in their country. The protest in the Croatian capital was part of a broader and still ongoing initiative aiming to protect the Croatian film sector from political influence and control. The fear of increased governmental control is fueled by a recent state audit that called into question the work of the Croatian Audiovisual Centre (HAVC) in recent years, which ultimately led its director Hrvoje Hribar to resign from his position.
"The report states that the HAVC is breaking the law because funding over HRK 200.000 (EUR 27.000) should be signed off by the Culture Minister. This, in effect, means that almost every film shot in Croatia has to be approved by the Minister. In a system created to separate film from the Ministry of Culture, in accordance with European regulations, after nine years, the Croatian state audit is diminishing the very idea of autonomy, the very reason why the HAVC was established.", says Croatian producer and film director Dana Budisavljević in a statement which is representative for what many filmmakers criticize regarding the potential implications of the report.
The common interpretation by most Croatian film professionals is that - opposite to the outcome of the audit - the funding system and practice has been functioning in the intended and desired way since the establishment of the HAVC by the Ministry of Culture nine years ago. Many film professionals now fear that the findings of the report will be used by the government to shift power back to the ministry and state officials.
“Nowhere in the EU do culture ministers approve films because it would be an unacceptable form of censorship and political control. This doesn’t happen anywhere else – out of a total of 31 film funds in Europe, not a single one is controlled by the state, they are all entirely independent from political influence,” said actor Goran Navojec, noting that the auditors are in no way competent to assess how and in what way approved projects contribute to Croatian cultural development.
In the meantime, a first success has been achieved by the Croation filmmaker community. In a recent meeting with Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovi and representatives of the Board of the Croatian Film Director's Guild and the Croatian Producers Association, Mr. Plenkovi stressed that the government shows no intention of interfering with the allocation of film production funds or exerting political pressure of any sorts. Negotiations are ongoing to ensure that the Croatian Audiovisual Centre can continue its work to allow for a sustainable and functional film funding system in Croatia. In a next step, the involved groups will launch a public disucssion on the further evolution of the funding system and meet with the President of Croatia and the Head of Parliament. The official statements and the original press release are available here.
How to support the initiative
Over 200 leading Croatian film and culture professionals gathered at Cinema Europa in order to publicly support the 'Puk'o nam je film' initiative. More than 600 individuals have signed the initiative’s OFFICIAL MANIFESTO up to this day.
The European Documentary Network (EDN), the European Film Academy (EFA), the Federation of European Film Directors (FERA) and other organizations have also recently announced their full support for the initiative. Filmmakers from Europe and across the globe can support their Croatian colleagues simply by sending an email with their name and surname to pukonamjefilm_@If you can read this, please upgrade to a modern browser.gmail.com.
More info: https://www.facebook.com/pukonamjefilm/