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Government focuses on film funding

Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin (left) and "Mr Cinema" Nicolas Bideau want to boost Swiss films

(Keystone)

Swiss films should focus on quality and popular appeal, says Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin.

Unveiling his plans for the sector on the sidelines of the Locarno Film Festival on Friday, Couchepin pledged to step up efforts to boost domestic cinema.

The minister, who also holds the culture portfolio, said the government wanted to enhance the promotion and financial support given to Swiss films. Quality and popularity were the new watchwords, he said.

Couchepin said the Swiss film industry received funding to the tune of SFr100 million ($79 million) from various sources. "This is not a small amount".

Financial assistance for homegrown films from the federal authorities currently stands at SFr35.7 million per year.

The new head of the Federal Culture Office, Jean-Frédéric Jauslin, said that it was important to prioritise. This means that funds should be concentrated on a few productions and the former policy of "something for everyone" should be scrapped.

He spoke of a global vision for culture which did not distinguish between elite and popular tastes.

No image

For Nicolas Bideau, who is due to take up his post as the Federal Culture Office’s director of cinema in October, domestic films have an image problem.

"Swiss cinema today has neither a positive nor a negative image among the public. It doesn’t have any image at all," he said.

Bideau added that it should be possible to make films with budgets of SFr3-4 million in Switzerland. Until now the federal authorities could only contribute a maximum of SFr1 million.

The new "Mr Cinema" - who is the son of a well-known actor - said it was important to encourage promising young film-makers.

He would also like to increase the domestic market share for Swiss films from its current long-term average of two to three per cent to at least ten per cent.

More promotion abroad is also on the cards, including an accord with the European Union on the film industry which is due to come into force next year, according to the interior ministry.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The Federal Culture Office has SFr35.5 million in subsidies available for Swiss film.
Next year SFr7 million will come from the European Union's MEDIA programme.
Swiss films currently have 2-3% of market share in Switzerland.
The aim is to raise this to 5-10%.

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In brief

Last year at the Locarno Film Festival Couchepin criticised the government's film policy.

He said the subsidy policy at the film section at the Federal Culture Office was too left leaning and not transparent enough.

Couchepin said he would launch an investigation into the matter.

The row led to the departure of the then head of Federal Culture Office, David Streiff.

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