Spanish cloister

Three local orgs form protectionist coalition

MADRID — If anyone had any doubt that Spain would fight tooth and claw alongside France to defend protectionist measures for Europe’s film industry, that was dispelled Monday.

Three of Spain’s most powerful film bodies — producers org Fapae, actors federation Faee and authors’ rights collection entity Sgae — joined forces to launch the Spanish Coalition for Cultural Diversity.

The coalition called on political authorities to exclude cultural goods and services from free-trade talks monitored by the World Trade Organization.

That exclusion echoes the principle of cultural exception that has allowed France to adopt regs, such as levies on movie ticket sales and broadcaster revenues, that helped channel E504 million ($607 million) into its film industry in 2003 via the CNC film institute.

The coalition’s tubthumping came just an hour after culture minister Carmen Calvo insisted that films are, first and foremost, culture.

Calvo was speaking at a presentation of the Spanish Film Commission’s first production guide, a weighty tome giving an overview of Spanish production including extensive production and post-production contact lists as well as details of film commissions and institutions.

The coalition also announced its support for a UNESCO international convention, approved in November, which recognized the rights of government to preserve cultural patrimony through protectionist measures.

Faee general secretary Jorge Bosso slammed the U.S. administration for negotiating bilateral trade treaties with Latin America, Australia and New Zealand.

According to Bosso, a UNESCO convention skedded for fall 2005 will attempt to draw up a document banning the inclusion of cultural concerns in bilateral trade talks.

Meanwhile, Spain has jumped to the forefront of European growth in film commissions. According to Carlos Rosado, prexy of the Spanish Film Commission, the number of local film offices has risen from five in 2001 to 20, with 10 more being created.

This explosion reflects a larger growth in Europe, Rosado said. “Film commissions used to be an exclusively North American phenomenon. Europe had only 28 in the year 2000, but now it has 160.”

Though Spain lacks tax breaks and local subsidy coin for international productions, the commission pushes the country’s lower shooting costs.

According to Jose Luis Escolar, the line producer on “The Kingdom of Heaven,” “Salaries in Spain are at least 20% cheaper than in France and Italy, and much cheaper than in the U.K.”

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