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Portugal’s film professionals strike again


- SECA's role in the selection of the juries for the ICA's contests is still at the heart of the industry quarrel

Portugal’s film professionals strike again
Director João Salaviza, one of the signatories of the open letter

After a quarrel at the Berlinale and a letter signed by over 500 personalities worldwide (read more), the protests in the Portuguese film sector continued this week with another open letter signed by emerging filmmakers and a demonstration having been called for in front of national film body ICA’s headquarters, organised by 14 local professional associations.

The missive, entitled “New Looks: An Open Letter from Young Filmmakers”, was published by local daily Público. It includes input from over 100 young directors, including João Salaviza, Diogo Costa Amarante, Cláudia Varejão and Gabriel Abrantes, who rally in defence of the ICA, while demanding a clarification of the functions of SECA (a Portuguese acronym standing for the Specialised Section for Cinema and Audiovisual) in the wider context of the strategies for the sector.

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The letter is being issued at a time when the government is reviewing the regulation of the Film Law, which has caused divergence in the sector due to SECA's role in the selection of the juries for the ICA's funding contests.

SECA is an entity that gathers together exhibitors, distributors, producers, filmmakers, scriptwriters, TV broadcasters and operators. In effect, some of these are also funders of the system, since they pay annual exhibition fees, which are then used to co-finance the industry.

“For those people who, like us, were born and raised in a democracy, it is an unprecedented event to see a public body such as the ICA being robbed and manipulated in this way, losing its independence and regressing to the stage of a legal, political and intellectual minority,” states the letter. The ICA, they argue, should not be reduced to a “mere distributor of public money”.

At the same time, 14 professional associations – most of them extremely active, having been fighting against this issue for the last few months – have called for a demonstration and public conference in front of the ICA’s headquarters on 7 April. No particular boycotts have been announced (so far).

The government announced earlier this year that the new regulations of the Film Law would only take effect for the 2018 contests. However, the calendar of contests and the 2017 declaration of priorities are yet to be published, which has also contributed to the sector’s discontent.

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