Tax protest hits Czech film fest

Helmers, producers pull work from kidpic event

PRAGUE — The first domestic fest has fallen victim to the Czech filmmakers’ strike over the state’s failure to pass a tax to fund production.

Czech helmers and producers have pulled their work from the Film Festival Zlin, a 46-year-old event spotlightting children’s and youth films, held in the Czech Republic’s eastern province of Moravia, to make their point.

Setting out to show there is no future for Czech film without a change in meager state funding, currently at around $2.6 million per year, helmers are opting to appear in person rather than screen fairy tales “Fimfarum II” and “An Angel of the Lord,” teen sex comedy “Rafters,” sci-fi “Restart” and other titles including “City of the Sun,” “Rail Yard Blues” and “Shark in the Head.”

Fest’s lifetime achievement award winner, director Karel Smyczek, has announced he supports the protest, which began May 24 with the closure of the Czech stand at Cannes following Czech Parliament’s failure to pass a tax of 2%-3% on exhibs, distribs and terrestrials.

Zlin organizers have yet to issue a reaction, but they scrambled to find substitutes for some of the films, slotting “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” into “Fimfarum’s” place in the fest, which unspooled Sunday and continues through Saturday.

“Fimfarum” co-helmer Aurel Klimt said, “If the situation in Czech Republic does not change radically, I personally don’t know any other solution than to end our 10-year effort to keep puppet animation in Czech Republic,” adding he is considering moving to Great Britain to work. At least there, said Klimt, “We can find work and devote ourselves to it.”

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