Portuguese film institute head resigns

Funding for org dries up in economic crisis

LISBON — Jose Pedro Ribeiro, prexy of the Portuguese film institute, ICA, has quit, following in the footsteps of vice prexy Leonor Silveira, who resigned May 9.

ICA is a victim of Portugal’s economic meltdown. Its funding sources have been slashed due to falling TV advertising revenues, and it has been unable to either open new funding competitions this year or honor past commitments.

The Secretary of State for Culture, Francisco Jose Viegas, declined to comment on the resignations, but promised fresh funding for ICA as soon as the new film law is enacted.

However, the draft law faces major obstacles, since it aims to extend levies on film and TV operators, who are themselves struggling for survival.

Following a period of creative flowering, the local film industry has stalled.

Even French newspaper Le Monde has commented on the situation. In an editorial published Wednesday, in which it praised talents such as Joao Canijo, Miguel Gomes and Joao Salaviza, it suggested that Portugal’s funding gridlock may foretell the future of European art cinema in general.

The 103-year-old Portuguese helmer Manoel de Oliveira said, “Portuguese cinema has always faced difficulties, but now it runs the risk of disappearing.”

Local filmmakers have staged a series of protests, including a “Cinema Paradiso”-style open-air screening in front of Parliament last week.

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