First person: Xavier Marce
BARCELONA — Forecasting how Catalan audiovisual policy will play out in 10 years time is obviously a very tall order. But it is possible to try to lay down guidelines of how we would like it to be.
To power the development of this strategic sector, we need solid companies, ambitious projects and an appropriate business model which meshes with the multinational and multicultural makeup of Spain.
In order to achieve this, we have to define new support strategies for film production which reflect its potential and permit it powerful growth and some real chance of success.
Catalonia currently suggests three production trends.
There are big-budgeted genre movies, which achieve international sales in speciality markets. Quite possibly, these should be shot in English and topline reasonably known actors, which implies industrial aid tapping sizeable private capital and large returns from international distribution.
Catalonia also produces local films that plumb our social reality, turning on themes of audience interest. These pics allow the creation of a local star system, and should aim to recoup from domestic markets. To become B.O. hits, pics require a larger effort in the area of screenplays, production values and marketing strategies.
Lastly, there’s a product whose bedrock is the talent of a clutch of directors — so-called auteur films with their own rules, which are hardly influenced by passing fashions. Such films have a specific public, can achieve theatrical bows abroad in niche markets. This third product needs direct state aid because it exemplifies the interface between culture and industry.
At the Catalan Institute for Cultural Industries (ICIC), we promote cinema as an industry. A state development policy always forces choices in distribution of resources, because necessities are always greater than possibilities.
A cultural market must be capable of assuming all demands equally, without letting market forces be the only arbiter, but recognizing the market and seeking successes for our audiovisual sector.
As for the debate about “Catalan cinema” or “cinema made in Catalan,” the proper premise is that films should be made in the Catalonia region whatever their language, ensuring that those which want to be made in the Catalan language can do so enjoying a positive discrimination to protect a weaker cinema which has a smaller market.
A modern cultural policy must ensure the global maintenance of all companies which conform it, without ignoring targeted actions supposed by any determinate cultural option.
(Xavier Marce is director of the Catalan Institute of Cultural Industries.)