Belarus government hopes to ramp up film business

By Evgen Vorotnikov

The government of Belarus is considering new measures to raise the level of domestic film production and to raise the local film business profile in Europe.

Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus, plans to personally oversee the measures. During recent talks, Lukashenko has strongly criticised the current state of affairs in the Belarusian cinema, which was one of the most developed in the whole USSR during Soviet times.

He noted that in recent years, the government has significantly increased funding of the national film industry, but this has not lead to any significant results.

During the period of 2006-2009 the amount of state investments in Belarus film production has increased by five times with nearly $20m (Br60 billion) invested during the past three years.

However, the revenue from the resulting films were only slightly more than 8% of all the money spent. In addition, most young Belarusian actors continue to seek work abroad, primarily to Russia.

The government now says that the local film industry needs many new initiatives to success, such as creating conditions to attract private investors including those from overseas; the creation of a State Centre of Film Production; as well as the establishment of a State Film Fund.

The Belarus government already has an existing strategy - Concept of the Development of Cinematography in the Republic of Belarus for 2009-2014 - but most of those funds are geared towards projects that will definitely turn a profit.

Part of the funding will also go to establishment a National Cinema Institute, as well as funding to reconstruct Belarusfilm, the country's largest and one of the oldest film studios. The Government has not ruled out the possibility of commissioning the production of films on certain subjects as one of the ways of support of the industry.


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