Film production incentives have been a success story for the Eastern European territories that have been late to embrace the rebates but are catching up fast. And, despite interruptions caused by the COVID-19 crisis, industry officials and filmmakers remain upbeat.

In Romania, where major player Castel Film Studio cancelled four international productions while under temporarily closure, the two-year-old production rebates system has also been suspended for now.

“Everything is on hold due to the state of emergency,” says producer and industry consultant Alex Traila.

Despite helping draw such high-profile projects as the BBC’s “Killing Eve,” administrators of the 35% cash-back incentives caused a stir with delays in payments after the government-mandated work shutdowns took effect March 26.

The Romanian Film Centre has since issued assurances that it has sufficient funds to write checks when work resumes, and Romanian president Klaus Iohannis has pegged the date for the end of the state of emergency as early May.

Filmmakers in other Eastern European countries, meanwhile, have taken production breaks in stride, rescheduling while getting financial support from national film orgs.

In Lithuania, where incentives helped bring in HBO series “Chernobyl,” the ministry of culture has announced a plan to support the sector following interrupted work with a $2.2 million fund.

And Estonia, like much of the region, has seen a stream of productions held up, but Eda Koppel of the Estonian Film Institute says the org will help compensate filmmakers for losses from production delays.

Facing an abrupt shutdown on locations in Estonia and Jordan, director and writer Kadri Kõusaar says she, for one, is committed to resuming work soon on filming her drama “Dead Woman.”

Eastern Europe’s top pics on tap:

“Dead Woman”

Director: Kadri Kousaar

Producers: Aet Laigu, Meteoriit

When a war correspondent covering the Middle East is abducted in the Sinai, her perspectives are challenged as feelings grow for one of her captors.

“Gateway 6”

Director: Tanel Toom

Producers: Ben Pullen, Matt Wilkinson, Jorg Bundschuh, Ivo Felt

Sales: Altitude

After serving two years on a military outpost in the middle of an ocean, four soldiers await a relief boat but are forced to question their duties and each other when it’s clear no help is coming.


Director: Rasmus Merivoo

Producers: Rain Rannu, Tonu Hiielaid

Children left at grandma’s house without their cell phones discover something far more entertaining: The thrill of a magic spell that will give them immense power, as long as they can find a human soul to offer up.


Director: Margus Paju

Producers: Esko Rips, Kristian Taska

As the war clouds gather in Estonia in 1937, an agent finds himself increasingly surrounded by dangers and suspicion as he uncovers a vast Soviet plot about to come to fruition.