- 26.9.2013 16:15 -
Cinema in Portugal today
The current Portuguese Government took a clear stand regarding culture and arts from day one: sidelining the Ministry of Culture and appointing a Secretary of State reporting directly to the Prime Minister. And since then – and not innocently – culture and arts have been treated according to an economic vision subservient to markets and commercial goals.
Since the beginning of 1970s, films in Portugal have not been financed by the State itself, but by advertising taxes that have been decreasing and leading to the creation and debate of a new law. In 2012, before the suspension of this law – that would regulate the reinforcement and development of such financing mechanisms, also encompassing private television operators – the Government therefore decided not to grant any support whatsoever to films through Instituto do Cinema e do Audiovisual. We called it Year Zero, we have asked ourselves how could we keep on going. Some managed and others simply did not make it. In 2013, when this law was finally discussed, approved and confirmed, when public tenders were opened and commitments were made, new data arises: the players in question would not pay their contributions. A direct challenge to the law, and to the concepts of balance and justice stated by the Constitution. In the face of this fact, the Prime Minister does not say a word.
How can a righteous Government depend upon the compliance (or non-compliance) of the private sector to implement a political culture? How can it endanger past and future heritage, and an industry fundamental to democracy (Article 78 of the Constitution of the Republic – Chapter III – Cultural Rights and Duties – cultural fruition and creation) that enables mechanisms of citizenship and participation in public life?
How can a legally elected Government address this issue as a mere industry-related problem and not a nationwide issue that is related to its own legitimacy as major decision makers and holders of management tools?
Portuguese cinema is endangered. Not only production itself, but also preservation and film releases are concerned. It is worth mentioning that neither Cinemateca Portuguesa nor Arquivo de Imagens em Movimento are protected against this raid, endangering cinematographic patrimony.
Regardless of all this, films are still being made. And we are sure they will always be made one way or the other. And films often claim the right to speak – or sometimes whisper – about what matters.
Our sincere thanks to João Viana for allowing us to “divulge” these two films here.
Apordoc – Associação Pelo Documentário
Doclisboa – Festival Internacional de Cinema