Portugal’s film professionals want better working conditions and an institute to support the sector

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Producers, directors, scriptwriters and technicians, meeting yesterday for a debate in Porto, agreed that the sector should no longer be precarious, and that the Film and Audiovisual Institute should be more than just a “money allocation window”.

As part of the “Nouvelles rencontres du cinéma portugais”, which Batalha – Centre du cinéma hosted yesterday and today in Porto, a debate on film production brought together seven associations of producers, scriptwriters, directors and technicians.

Over the course of the three-hour debate, in which each association ended up listing virtually a list of demands and problems in its field, many speakers, including members of the audience, stressed the importance of an organization such as the Instituto do Cinema e do Audiovisual (ICA) defending cinema.

João Matos, from production company Terratreme, and Luís Urbano, from O Som e a Fúria, felt that the ICA had responsibilities in defining public policies for cinema, while producer Rodrigo Areias, from Bando À Parte, said that the institute should defend Portuguese cinema and its plurality in the audiovisual industry.

Nevertheless, given the sector’s legislation, the bureaucratic processes of support competitions and the growing volume of production, via the creation of the Tourism and Cinema Support Fund, the ICA “is currently a bureaucratic wall with a window”, said João Matos.

“Producer Pedro Borges, of Midas Filmes, questioned the “lack of transparency” of the supervisory body when it made public the guidelines of the next strategic plan for the sector.

“Public institutions finance cinema and must defend national cinema against the hegemonies of narratives and markets that we cannot counter. They exist to finance. It’s not a question of a subsidy or a favor, but of the survival of our plurality as a culture.cinematographiccapital is not just financial”, said director Mariana Gaivão.

In a debate moderated by researcher Mariana Liz, Jorge Costa of the Portuguese Association of Audiovisual Technicians recalled the precariousness and invisibility of technicians working in film and audiovisual productions, and called for the creation of a “collective labor agreement adapted to the sector”.

At a time of “transformation” in the film and audiovisual industry, as producer Fernando Vendrell put it, there was no discussion, as some professionals in the audience pointed out, of issues that are transversal today: gender equality, the representativeness of racialized people and other ethnic groups, and the environmental sustainability of the sector.

The “New Encounters of Portuguese Cinema”, whose conclusions will be produced and broadcast, is an initiative of Batalha – Cinema Centre, Clube Português de Cinema – Oporto Film Club and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

This initiative comes 56 years after the same entities organized the Study Week on New Portuguese Cinema in 1967.

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