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Government backs Croatian film biz

Audio Visual Center will help boost production

PULA, Croatia — Croatian film production will increase by around 50% annually within the next few years as a new system of subsidies begins to take effect, the head of the newly established Croatian Audio Visual Center said last week.

Albert Kapovic said the center’s $15 million annual budget is about double that of the Balkan country’s previous film support system.

The body, which launched earlier this year and is funded both by government grants and a levy on the turnover of public and commercial television and other audiovisual businesses, can make grants of up to 50% of a film’s budget.

With the average Croatian feature budget coming in at under $1.5 million, that means that local producers can now tap the center for up to $750,000 in subsidies.

“The money should mean that within the next three or four years Croatian feature film production will increase from around six movies a year to eight or 10,” Kapovic said.

Other types of film from documentaries to animation and experimental pics will also be eligible for support, added Kapovic who was visiting Pula during the ancient coastal town’s 55th Pula Film Festival.

The new center, which took over functions and responsibilities previously held by the Croatian ministry of culture, will work closely with the European Union’s Media Program, which Croatia joined in March.

Although the center is giving direct production grants to producers, it may move to a revolving door system or returnable grants — for those films that make a profit — to increase the number of projects it is able to support, per Kapovic.

“It is important to have a strong domestic industry. In Europe it is always those countries with a strong national industry that are best equipped to weather crises.”

Better international promotion for Croatian film was also on the cards, Kapovic said, with a new department staffed by two or three people to ensure that local films are present at key market and festivals beyond Cannes and Berlin, where the center already had a presence this year.

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