Finnish producers go on strike

Industry protests against subsidy freeze

LONDON — Finnish feature film producers, including producer/director Aki Kaurismaki, have gone on strike in protest at the government’s alleged failure to deliver on a promised state subsidies uptick.

The production shutdown takes place with immediate effect.

“State subsidies for the film industry in next year’s budget are at exactly the same level as this year. The increase is zero per cent instead of the 8% promised,” the 30 producers including Kaurismaki and Markus Selin said in a joint statement released Monday at a Helsinki press conference.

The producers are striking as they claim that culture minister Stefan Wallin has not upped production funding (which is covered by state lottery revenue) by 8% ($1.6 million) in 2008, as was promised in June’s state culture budget.

“During the last 10 years, local films have controlled 15%-25% of the Finnish market, and we are proud of that. In the meantime production costs have doubled, while maximum subsidy for a film is the same, so a film has to sell at least 150,000 tickets to break even,” said the producers.

“We have found partners outside the industry who contribute an annual $6.7 million to Finnish films. Still — if the government continues its short-sighted policy — we are left to do 10 films a year full of compromises, so they will hopefully reach the necessary number of admissions,” continued the statement.

The producers will complete works currently in progress but not commit to future projects until the extra $1.6 million in subsidies materializes.

Finnish films represented 24% of the films distributed in Finland in 2006, up from 4% in 1996, the Finnish Film Foundation said.

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