Spanish cinema becomes independent from political power | Culture

Javier Gutiérrez, left, on the set of 'Bajocero'.  In the center, in the background, the director, Lluís Quílez.
Javier Gutiérrez, left, on the set of ‘Bajocero’. In the center, in the background, the director, Lluís Quílez.

For the first time, all Spanish cinema (technicians, artists, producers, distributors, exhibitors …) has come together. The end, the achievement of a dream: that the film industry stops depending on the Government of the day politically and on the General State Budgets economically. According to the plan, the ICAA (Institute of Cinematography and Audiovisual Arts), an autonomous body, which is not independent, included in the organization chart of the Ministry of Culture and Sports, would be radically transformed to become the State Film Agency, which it would also entail a change of model. Spanish cinema would be governed by its own law, such as the Prado Museum or the Reina Sofía, outside of partisan debate. In France, the National Center for Cinema and Animated Image functions as a public agency attached to the Ministry of Culture but with legal personality and financial autonomy. And that is the mirror in which you want to look at Spanish cinema.

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There is already a very advanced document that EL PAÍS has had access to. It is the result of a long process. For Juan Vicente Córdoba, Paula Palacios and Daniel Guzmán, president and members of Acción, the association that brings together almost 200 film directors and that has promoted this movement, the aid “is cut off for televisions” and it does not matter so much the route of a film at festivals, not even the script. “The agency must meet the needs of all the agents that make up the sector, guaranteeing their diversity and decisively protecting independent production and creative freedom,” they pointed out yesterday afternoon. Guzmán, as an actor and director, and Palacios, as a documentary filmmaker and producer, are also part of other associations. “We have to be outside the party sphere,” says Guzmán, and Palacios points out: “Only in this way can diversity be achieved in Spanish cinema.”

To tackle the main problem, that of financing, they believe that “cinema and audiovisuals have to finance themselves directly and indirectly.” With a hybrid system in which, according to the aforementioned document, a percentage of VAT on cinema tickets would be added, another of the mandatory investment quota of televisions for the mere fact of using the Spanish radio-television space and another portion of the mandatory investment quota of the platforms streaming (which will include the transposition of the European audiovisual directive into Spanish legislation). The table would be completed by contributions from telephone and internet operators, and donations (patronage) and part of the tax incentives for foreign filming in Spain. “Of course, for this we would have to homologate ourselves with neighboring countries such as France, which offers up to 30%, Belgium with 20%, and Germany and Italy, which reach 40%”, they warn.

The only effective tool

In April 2020, Acción explained that this state agency “is the only effective tool for shielding the film industry and responding to future needs.” And the opportunity is provided by the same Cinema Law, 55/2007, which specifically included, in the first additional provision, the possibility of creating that agency, although it only gave a period of two years (in 2015 all state agencies disappeared) . At the last Seminci in Valladolid, Acción managed to launch the first negotiating tables and the support of the ICAA, whose director, Beatriz Navas, promised to lead the working group. The point in common: the current model of public policies for the cinematographic and audiovisual sector in Spain is insufficient.

According to Navas, “for various technical things, an agency helps, of course.” “But the best thing about this impulse is that all the associations have been conspired to contribute to the development of its future,” he continues. “This communion was lacking in Spanish cinema.” And he points out: “It is true that the cinema must be above political dances; However, it must not be forgotten that politics represents citizens, and that it has to be part of the decisions about the audiovisual industry. Let’s seek consensus ”.

“We have to move on, finally we sail together” (Juan Vicente Córdoba)

The next step was announced this Tuesday, when the reform of the Cinema Law was opened for public consultation (until July 25), since “the value chain of the audiovisual sector has incorporated new content and distribution, exploitation and diffusion typical of a global environment dominated by culture and the digital economy ”, according to the ICAA announcement, and there are obsolete or insufficient normative parts. And furthermore, “the reform of the Cinema Law is contemplated within the National Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan, in Component 25, Spain Audiovisual Hub”, presented by the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, last March. In the questions sent for consultation, just the last one, the fourteenth, raises the convenience of creating that State Film Agency. “This mandate will appear in the reform of the Law —which, being good, has a long finished journey—, which will be finished in two years,” explains Navas. “The development of the Agency would come in another legislative development, which would be subsequent. And it will be necessary to make way. Although it is great that the sector reflects and dreams ”. From Acción they know, explains Córdoba: “We have to move on, finally we sail together.

Seven sector tables

The meetings have been held by seven sector tables: exhibitors, technicians, producers, artists, authors, distributors and transversal (such as the Union of Filmmakers or Cima, which brings together women in Spanish audiovisuals). A representative will leave each table for the negotiation. From the sectoral group called Authors, in which Acción participates, Directs (which groups together the directors of television fiction), Seasonagent (composers of music for audiovisuals) and intellectual rights management entities such as DAMA and SGAE, a consensus document has emerged on the change of model that contains a mixture of general ideas, lines of action and formulation of how to create the agency. Representatives from the seven tables will meet next week.

Who would make up the Agency? It would be attached to the Vice Presidency of the Government and the Ministry of Culture, and in their governing bodies, according to this work, “other administrations such as the Economy and Digital Transition, Finance, Education, Industry, ICEX … must be represented.” In order to facilitate cross-cutting policies and “the coordination of activities related to audiovisuals”, there would also be members of the industry, deputies of the Culture Commission and representatives of the Culture Councils of the Autonomous Communities.

The document is much more detailed in other steps, such as the ways to be developed to review the agreements with the televisions (a workhorse in audiovisuals is that the obligation that televisions have to invest in cinema, and to which the television stations will soon be added). digital platforms, do not invest for the most part in their own companies, but in independent production companies), in the creation of a department for the promotion and distribution of Spanish cinema abroad, in supporting independent distribution and exhibition, in the creation of of a Superior Audiovisual Council that supervises the process, in which the Statute of the Artist is finally approved, understand that cultural industries are an engine of economic growth and that a State and Social Pact is built, “a national consensus on cinema and the audiovisual, the document points out, agreed by all political parties and citizens in defense of culture and audiovisual in a way that is respected permanently, whoever governs governs ”.

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