Parliament overturns veto of President Klaus

LONDON

Czech lawmakers have overturned President Vaclav Klaus’ veto on a film law that will introduce incentives worth up to $15 million a year to back local and international productions.

Klaus, who steps down in February, has consistently opposed measures to bring Czech film funding in line with most other European countries on the grounds that he does not see the industry as a special case.

But lawmakers in Prague Tuesday night used parliament’s power to override his veto and set up a Czech Cinematography Fund backed by a 2% levy on TV advertising, a 1% tax on cinema ticket sales and cable and satellite advertising revenues, in addition to other sources including VOD sales and income from the rights of Communist-era Czech films. The fund will be overseen by a nine-strong supervisory committee to ensure it’s properly managed.

An earlier version administered by the Culture Ministry came in for flak for its clumsy and inefficient application and disbursement system.

Cash rebates worth up to 10% for foreign productions and 20% for local films will also be available up to a ceiling of $15 million a year, with provisions for the fund to be topped up from treasury sources if the levies fail to raise enough.

The new cinematography fund will also provide support for film festivals, international promotion, distribution and digitalization.

Producer Pavel Strnad, who has long lobbied for incentives, told Variety that he was relieved the law, effective Jan. 1, had passed after 12 years of struggle.

He added, “We hope that the new film law will change the Czech Film Fund for the better, it should be more independent, more effective and more transparent. The law also incorporates the tax rebate into the film fund, which should bring more flexibility to the system. We are still waiting for confirmation of the budget of the tax rebate in 2013 though.”

Klaus’ veto was overturned by 141 of the 151 lawmakers present who voted on the law.

Cernik told Variety: “It’s the perfect Christmas gift for all Czech filmmakers this year! The new film law will not only secure a bigger and stable amount in the Czech film fund but will also distribute funds in a more transparent and effective way.”

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