MORELIA, Mexico – A year after taking on the role of Mexican Film Institute (Imcine) director, Maria Novaro addressed rumors about cuts to current audiovisual incentives in Mexico.

Contrary to reports, the budgets for each of the three incentives –  Fidecine, Foprocine and Eficine – have not been reduced as a result of the new government’s austerity measures, she pointed out.

“The cuts were across all government departments although we did see a 30% reduction in personnel but only among contractors,” said Novaro.

In Morelia to mainly present the two-day Mexican Indigenous Filmmakers: Identity and New Narratives forum for women directors during the 17th Morelia Film Festival, Novaro pointed out: “We have actually introduced two additional calls for projects this past year.”

Fidecine, the incentive for mainstream projects which normally holds one call a year, held two rounds for the first time. The first round awarded 13 fiction projects of which 11 were in production and two in post. The second round opened Sept. 4 and closed Oct. 17, she added.

In keeping with Imcine’s new mandate to open up more opportunities for indigenous filmmakers, a new call for Indigenous and Afro-descendent films, open to Mexican and Central American filmmakers, attracted 148 entries of which 15 projects were selected, eight from women. The new fund is valued at US$366,000 ($7 million pesos).

Furthermore, Imcine spearheaded the establishment of a new post production center, the San Cristobal de las Casas center, in the town of Chiapas. “This is a fully-equipped center that includes a recording and dubbing studio, and facilities for Foley, editing, color correction, etc.,” Novaro said, adding: “It will give local filmmakers a fighting chance to make first-rate films.”

The helmer, widely known for her hit romantic drama “Danzon,” and her mostly female team traveled across Mexico visiting small film communities who haven’t had the same resources as their counterparts in the capital of Mexico City.

She’s also planning an outreach to Mexican filmmakers in the U.S. with an event in early 2020, Hablemos de lo Nuestro (Let’s Talk About Us), to inform Mexican cineastes residing in the U.S. on how they can also tap Imcine’s funds provided they complete a number of prerequisites such as filming or doing post in Mexico City, hiring Mexican talent and other conditions, yet to be fully defined.

Foprocine, which funds the production or post-production of auteur fiction and documentary films, has parceled out its $6.3 million (121 million pesos) fund to 105 projects, of which 55 are fiction and 31 are documentaries.

Tax incentive Eficine 189, with a $34 million (650 million pesos) war chest for production and $2.6 million (50 million pesos) for distribution, has been a lifeline for many Mexican filmmakers. The stimulus offers taxpayers who contribute to film projects in Mexico the possibility of obtaining tax credits. In the first round, 22 films won support in either production or post-production, among them from some Morelia favorites: Amat Escalante and his upcoming “Estado del Imperio,” Trisha Ziff’s docu “Oaxacalifornia: El Retorno 1995-2016” and Humberto Hinojosa’s “No Abras la Puerta.”

“Diversity is the key word, we’ve opened it up to more female directors as well as to other genres,” said Novaro.

Next year, Imcine plans to open a new call for kid-targeted projects in all categories.

Imcine’s latest annual report, due out in June 2020, will include new statistics that will include a report on how many Mexicans don’t go to cinemas and explore the reasons why.

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