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Booming Swiss film industry begs for more cash

A still from last year's Swiss hit "Beresina" Keystone

Swiss film-makers are pleading for a new cash injection from the government, after already exhausting this year's budget of SFr7.6 million.

This content was published on July 3, 2000 - 17:10

More films than ever are being made with the help of the federal office for culture, and the office now estimates its budget needs increasing by SFr4 million for 2001.

The head of the office, David Streiff, said two of the three meetings planned for the second half of the year by the panel which assesses funding requests had been cancelled because of the funds had run out.

This year's amount of SFr7.6 million has remain unchanged for a number of years. However, the success of home-grown talent in making films which have been a hit with Swiss audiences and critics, such as "Beresina" directed by Daniel Schmid, has led to a boom in film production.

Rising production costs across Europe, even for low budget films is also being blamed for the heavy spending from the government's funds. In addition, since 1998, the payment of government subsidies that were granted to film-makers was delayed by several weeks.

At first, the federal office for culture tried to lower the amount of money its individual committees could grant to film-makers. However, the demand and costs were rising too fast. In the last 12 years, the amount usually granted to larger budget films, was around half a million francs, despite the fact that the actual costs were three times as much.

At present, the government is not due to increase its film-makers' fund before 2002. The federal office for culture feels if there is no increase in 2001, film-makers will have to put the brakes on spending immediately.

However, this could jeopardise current and future production. Marc Wehrlin, the head of the film section of the federal office for culture said it appears the Swiss film industry is becoming a victim of its own success.

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