As a small country and with low production, Portuguese Cinema caracterizes itself for one surprising diversity, good narratives and a generally true artistic approach to cinema. How come this to be possible? It is not a surprise if we say that the national support schemes were part of the answer. Allowing filmmakers and producers to start athe projects and get aditional funds to achieve the necessary budget. It is a truly independent process. 

This funds are not public, they comme from one aditional tax on TV and Cinemas publicity, the role of the state – trough Institute of Cinema – is to promote the distribution according to certain regulations and jury’s opinions. There are different schemes to support for feature film and documentary, short fiction and animation films, distribution and promotion.

For the last years a severe crisis is afecting Portugal as a country and a society. The Cultural sector was always neglected by governments and is one of the the first to be affected when the economical situation has some negative performance

Last year, when the right wing gouvernment at rules the country was empowered they stop all of the public suppots to Culture, including Cinema.

The Cultural Sector is responsible for around 3.7% of the GDP has less than 0,5% of national budget. Recently a former Minister of Culture said that she was “sad with her Prime Minister, for not allowing a grouth of public investment in Culture”. The present right wing Government extinguished the Ministry of Culture and nominated a Secretary of State on dependence of the Prime Minister office. This is a political choice that represents that the State doesn’t care, in fact, about Culture and its actors

As said before the funds for cinema came from one adittional tax charged to announcers in tv and cinema, so it is not the national budget to support cinema. But anyway all the announces for support were not launched in 2011 and 2012. Curiously this were golden years for Portuguese Cinema in the international panorama of film festivals.

If we consider film festivals, the presence and award of Portuguese films had a great year. Portuguese filmmmakers and programmers were invited all over the world to present films or programs of Portuguese films. 

There is a special atention paid to names as João Salaviza, Miguel Gomes (awarded at Berlin Film Festival with short film “Rafa” and feature film “TABU” respectivelly) and more recently João Guerra’s “Last time I saw Macau”(Cannes and Locarno), but also to renowned Pedro Costa and Manoel de Oliveira.

Other films and filmmakers were awarded in film festivals from Brazil, United States, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, France, Canada, Spain, Argentina, Italy, Cape Vert and Austria, just to name some of the most relevant. 

It is interesting to note that in the year that the Portuguese gouvernment suspended all the support schemes, the vivibility and recognition of national cinema got one of the best years. But also to note that, appart a small distribution outside the national borders there is a growing curiosity around Portuguese Cinema. Would this represent a new frontier to the distribution and audience atention?

João Paulo Macedo
Film Programmer and researcher
Festival Director
Film Society activist