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Hollywood blockbusters to face more competition in Swiss cinemas

But will cinemagoers flock to see homegrown films?

(Keystone Archive)

The Senate has approved a draft law to ensure a broader range of films in Swiss cinemas and to bolster the Swiss industry. The measures, which still have to be discussed by the House of Representatives, are aimed at limiting the dominance of Hollywood blockbusters.

Under the law, discussed in the Senate on Thursday, the Swiss film industry will assure the diversity of films in cinemas. The federal authorities will supervise the effectiveness of the new regulation and will be able to introduce a special tax or fines.

The law foresees measures for selective promotion of audiovisual productions. Commissions will decide on grants, based on quality criteria. The law includes regulations to finance projects based on the commercial success of applicants' previous productions.

The Senate's approval follows a compromise reached between parliament and the film trade in Switzerland. Earlier this year the Senate refused to discuss a previous draft law saying it allowed too much state interference in the audiovisual industry.

The bill, which passed 27-3 in the Senate, now goes to the House of Representatives for discussion before the amended law takes effect.

Swiss films: Up to 4 per cent of market

The latest figures show continuing dominance by American-made films in Swiss cinemas. Last year US movies took a 76 per cent share of the Swiss market. French productions were in second place, with about an eight per cent share.

Swiss-made films last year accounted for up to four per cent of the market, according to the Swiss Association of Swiss Cinemas and Film Distributors, Procinema.

The federal authorities contribute more than SFr25 million ($16 million) annually in direct subsidies for the production of Swiss films and various film-related events, including promotion, marketing, festivals or archives. The industry demands twice the amount to be able to compete on the market.

Of the total SFr25 million contributed annually by the Swiss government, SFr1.5 million francs goes towards Eurimages, a production fund of the Council of Europe, while a further SFr2 million is earmarked for training programmes.

by Urs Geiser


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