Film law protests continue in Romania

Legislation will change how pics are financed

Following onstage protests at the Transylvania Film Festival on Saturday, Romania’s filmmakers are continuing their efforts to derail a proposed new film law that they say will set back the industry 20 years.

The film bill, which was just passed by the Romanian Senate and is now being debated in parliament for a coming vote, makes fundamental changes to the regulatory and film financing system, according to director Tudor Giurgiu, who owns indie Librafilm and is prexy of the Transylvania fest.

The film bill’s major points include:

  • Redefining the Centrul National al Cinematografiei (CNC), Romania’s national film office responsible for allocating state funding to the industry, as a co-producer in all films in which it expedites financing.

  • Removing film critics from the CNC selection committees for funding.

  • Making state funding for a film contingent on the submission of a director’s final shooting script as opposed to the standard film script.

  • Adding a criteria called the film’s “dimension” for determining funding, although industry leaders state this term is poorly defined and open to interpretation.

  • Decreasing funding to fests and art house distribution by about 8%.

Giurgiu believes the proposed law violates European Union cinema regulations and will ultimately be struck down by Europe.

But Giurgiu is concerned that passage of the law could freeze film funding and development in Romania for six months or more until Brussels is able to veto the legislation.

“If the law passes, the CNC will not be able to hold any financing sessions,” he said. “The whole (film development) system will be blocked.”

The bill appears to be the brainchild of Communist-era filmmaker Sergiu Nicolaescu, now an 80-year-old member of the Senate, and support for it appears to be linked to Nicolaescu’s personal popularity among lawmakers.

There is no indication the bill represents any government desire to seize greater control of the industry.

But Romanian and European filmmakers are uniting against the bill. At the awards ceremony of the Transylvanian fest in Cluj on Saturday, filmmakers and actors crowded on stage in a mass protest, and foreign filmmakers attending the fest signed a petition that will be submitted to parliament.

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