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The Government resumes the cinema law without changes to accelerate its final approval in Congress | Culture

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The Minister of Culture, Ernest Urtasun, this Tuesday during the press conference after the Council of Ministers.Daniel Gonzalez (EFE)

The Government wants the new cinema law to be in step with reality. Because the regulations in force date back to 2007, when the DVD seemed modern. And the delay has increased between drafts, projects and an electoral advance that have condemned again and again the reform to the fade to black, just when it seemed that it was going to be released. “The gap between the actions of the Administration and the sector has widened,” the Minister of Culture, Ernest Urtasun, recognized today, Tuesday, when presenting at the press conference after the Council of Ministers the nuevo preliminary draft of the Law on Cinema and Audiovisual Culture. The same one, yes, that the Chambers had on the verge of approval a year ago, before the unexpected return to the polls. Protection of film heritage and independent production, inclusion of series, promotion of transparency, diversity and equality remain the pillars. Although perhaps the sector’s main priority is to finally move forward.

“It is a law intended to last, which is born from a unanimous demand from the sector, made with and for the sector. And that is why we hope to have the maximum political consensus,” defended Urtasun, who thanked his predecessor in office for the work, Miquel Iceta, in another recognition that the text has not changed. Hence, Culture relies on a relatively quick passage through Congress so that the regulations obtain approval and begin as soon as possible to recover so much time that has passed.

The minister himself highlighted the main keys of the law. “The first objective is to strengthen the entire cinematographic value chain,” he noted. From its very name, the reform shows one of the changes: with the reference to “Audiovisual Culture”, cinema and series are now also embraced by law, after doing so on so many sets and platforms. Works for the small screen receive various official recognitions and, above all, will be eligible for subsidies. Although Culture has promised that this will not reduce funds for the seventh art. The current scheme will therefore be maintained: general aid for films first more commercial, and selective, to more author’s and risky works. “Spanish cinema has never had as much support as it has since the coalition government existed,” boasted Urtasun.

Facade of the Doré Cinema, one of the headquarters of the National Film Archive.
Facade of the Doré Cinema, one of the headquarters of the National Film Archive.KIKE FOR

For the rest, the minister’s intervention served to review the measures already announced on different occasions. Above all, a definition of an independent producer in line with what the most diverse part of the industry demands. After the commotion generated in 2022 by the General Law of Audiovisual Communication – by changing a word in the text it opened the door for the production company of a large chain that carried out a project for another colossal conglomerate to receive support as an independent, for example -, the regulations try to calm the heated spirits.

The definition included in the new text reflects that of the law in force and, above all, that which the alternative producers themselves requested. Incidentally, the regulations update the list of relevant terms for the seventh art, today different from that of 2007, between series, films that are not only released in theaters or all types of independent distributors. And cinemas also see one of their requests satisfied: their obligation to screen European and Ibero-American works goes from 25% to 20% of their programming. Although the sector knows that, sometimes, US films are registered as co-produced with Europe thanks to a minimal contribution from the Old Continent just to skip that quota.

Another notable change affects precisely the best-known new actors in cinema: platforms such as Netflix or HBO. They will be obliged to publicly share a treasure that until now they have carefully hidden: their audience and viewing data, just as theaters and stations already do, also to facilitate the collection of copyrights, another central issue of the law. Furthermore, “cinematographic films produced directly by audiovisual communication service providers” will not be able to receive aid. Another thing, however, is that they buy them and incorporate them into their catalogue, a very common practice that leaves the door open to more than one lethal dribble.

From left to right, the president of the Film Academy, Fernando Méndez-Leite, the president of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, the president of the Junta de Castilla y León, Alfonso Fernández Mañueco and the Minister of Culture, Ernest Urtasun at the gala of the Goya, last February 10 in Valladolid.
From left to right, the president of the Film Academy, Fernando Méndez-Leite, the president of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, the president of the Junta de Castilla y León, Alfonso Fernández Mañueco and the Minister of Culture, Ernest Urtasun at the gala of the Goya, last February 10 in Valladolid. Marshal (EFE)

The Spanish Film Library will receive the protection of BIC (Asset of Cultural Interest), to guarantee the care of the audiovisual heritage that is preserved in its different warehouses and restoration centers. At least 35% of production aid will go to films directed by women, as already happens in practice and will now be established by law. The creation of a State Council of Cinematography and Audiovisual Culture is planned, an autonomous and consultative body, which summarizes both its potential and its limitations. And the ICAA (Institute of Cinematography and Audiovisual Arts) must develop and publish a strategic plan from time to time. Furthermore, the rating of films by age passes from the hands of the ICAA itself to a system of co-regulation with the distributors. And for the recognition of Spanish nationality to a work, “the languages ​​statutorily recognized by the Autonomous Communities” are included for the first time, as Urtasun stressed.

With his words, the minister celebrated the power of the film industry. Although his own presence at the press conference demonstrated it: since he took office it is the second time that he has spoken after the Council of Ministers. And in March he also had to do with the seventh art: specifically, with discounts for people over 65 years of age in theaters. Although his status as Sumar’s spokesperson at the same time led to several questions asking him about the other side of him, and the crisis that his formation is going through.

Between that, and the other three ministers present, there was no time to talk about another crisis: the one suffered by cinemas. Since February, not a single weekend has attendance reached the 2017-2019 average, according to data from the specialized consulting firm ComScore: it has often been around 70%, but on several occasions it dropped to 40% and on one occasion it was even in 29%. Another change in trend that the law will have to deal with. When arrive.

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