and now for something completely different: THIS IS WHERE WE STAND

This is the current state of things in Portuguese cinema.

In September, emergency funding was announced to keep the Portuguese Cinemathèque afloat until the end of the year. 

At the announcement of the proposal for the State Budget in early October, the secretary of state for Culture, Jorge Barreto Xavier, announced the budget would include funding for the Cinemathèque coming from a cultural investment fund, even though the total amount of money allocated to the institution would still be approximately 25% smaller than in 2013. 

2014 state funding for the arts as a whole was also initially presented as going to be slightly higher, but in fact the individual state institutions are all allocated less money than in 2013. 

In mid-November, José Pedro Ribeiro, president of the Institute for Cinema and Audiovisual since 2005, quit his post after having warned repeatedly he would do so, and refused to stay in the job until a successor had been chosen; his vice-president resigned as well. There was no explanation for the exit. 

In the same day, Maria João Seixas, director of the Portuguese Cinemathèque since 2010, also revealed she would leave the post; as the applications opened at the end of October calling for candidates to the job, she decided not to apply. 

As of today, the pay-TV and telecommunications operators haven't yet paid the annual contributions towards film funding due by law, totaling 11 million euros. The secretary of state for Culture has already said the Government is not in a position to make up for the uncollected money and says it will consider judicial proceedings if necessary.  

Pay-TV and communications operators think the new act unconstitutional and say they want to have a bigger say in the types of films produced with their monies. Which is to say, only films that have a shot at commercial success and making back their money. No Portuguese film, however, even those who become successful, has a shot at recouping the investment in the Portuguese market alone. 

The most-seen film with Portuguese monies involved is not technically a Portuguese film: Bille August's pan-European production Night Train to Lisbon, spoken in English with a multinational cast and released in March, had approx. 60,000 viewers and €305,000 in box-office. 

As a comparison, Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine has tallied 75,000 viewers and €400,000 in box-office. Lee Daniels' The Butler, one of the year's success stories, has 180,000 viewers and €925,000 in box-office, and Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity, has underperformed, with only 107,000 viewers and €700,000 in box-office. 

The second most-seen Portuguese film was Tino Navarro's sci-fi thriller RPG (23,000 viewers, €120,000 in box-office), and the third Bairro, a production of the TVI television channel, (19,000 viewers and €97,000 in box-office). These are the sort of films the pay-TV operators will gladly pony up money for. 

Also, Portuguese films continue to reap awards internationally. Joaquim Pinto's What Now? Remind Me won three awards at the prestigious Locarno festival and the DocLisboa documentary festival in Lisbon. Gonçalo Tocha's A Mãe e o Mar and Vítor Gonçalves' A Vida Invisível were selected for the Rome festival. Salomé Lamas' Terra de Ninguém was also awarded at Documenta Madrid. João Pedro Rodrigues and João Rui Guerra da Mata's The Last Time I Saw Macao, with a stellar international run of festival and theatrical screenings, attracted 2,400 viewers in Portugal and made €11,000 in box-office. João Viana's A Batalha de Tabatô, also presented in a series of international festivals and winner of a special mention in the Berlinale, recorded 600 admissions and €2600 in box office. These are the sort of films that the pay-TV operators refuse to finance. 


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