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Filmmakers Suspend New Production In Protest

Twenty-eight Finnish professional filmmakers have declared a boycott of work on new movie projects. The move is in protest against the failure of the government's new budget to provide extra funding for domestically-produced films. Public funding for movies in Finland is less than half of that in the other Nordic countries. The official programme of the present government mentions film as one area or focus. In addition, in June Minister of Culture Stefan Wallin brought up the possibility of earmarking an extra 1.2 million euros in the budget for movie project funding. However, the funding in the budget draft for film production is pegged at 13.5 million euros, the same as last year. Funding is derived from the profits of state-controlled gambling. There is an addition sum of around 4 million for film culture, including expenditure by the Finnish Film Foundation. Filmmakers want more

A statement on the issue has been signed by 28 Finnish movie producers. Included among them are Jörn Donner, Aki Kaurismäki, Timo Koivusalo, Auli Mantila, Ilkka Matila, Claes Olsson, Marko Röhr and Markus Selin.

They have agreed among themselves that they will not start new film projects until a further 1.2 million is included in the budget for next year. Movies receiving support from this year's state budget will, however, be completed.

The statement makes the point that films generate tax revenues for the state through salaries and ticket sales. During the past decade domestically-made films have accounted for 15-25 percent of movie audiences.

In addition, producers calculate that while the maximum state support for individual movie projects has not risen in ten years, production costs have doubled. The Ministry of Education disagrees, saying that since the year 2000 funding for the promotion of movie culture has gone up by 62%.

Filmmakers are especially bitter about the tens of millions in subsidies provided to the Finnish National Opera.

Culture Minister Wallin admits that in June he did discuss raising funding for movies with the directors of the Finnish Film Foundation, but that at the time he was unaware of the limits on the budget.

Wallin has now, though, pledged to re-examine the issue once the budget draft is finalized.

Sources: YLE

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