Sunday, January 21, 2007

Venezuelan Film Industry Expands

Sources: Inter Press Service News Agency, Petrodollars for Local Film Industry.

Venezuela is representative of many countries in Latin America when it comes to the film industry. Approximately ninety-eight percent of the movies that Venezuelans view are from the United States, and while eleven native films were screened in commercial cinemas in 2006—an unprecedented high—the president of the “governmental but independent film institute,” Centro Nacional Aut√≥nomo de Cinematograf√≠a (CNAC), explained that Venezuelans typically recognize themselves “on a street in Los Angeles, not . . . where [they] really live.”

The high percentage of foreign films in Venezuela is not surprising, however. Producing films there is not easy: There are a limited number of private sources, and it is almost impossible to get state-funding and support when there are more pressing development needs. Thus, in an effort to boost native film making, on January 12, CNAC revealed that it will grant over $3.7 million to over twenty filmmakers in 2007. The works that CNAC selected include feature-length films, opera primas, documentaries, short fiction, and short documentaries.

Additionally, the production studio, Villa de Cine, is expected to open this year, providing filmmakers with a government-funded facility that includes light, audio, and video equipment; casting and post-production conveniences; and grants “preferential conditions for local film, video and TV producers.” Thus far, the complex has cost $13 million, and the government is expected to allocate another $11 million to guarantee its completion.

CNAC hopes that the grants and production support will be able to increase the frequency of national-film screenings beyond the one week per year that is required by law. Additionally, the Center anticipates creating a film-marketing network throughout Latin America, increasing the country’s exposure to films from the whole continent, but particularly those countries that form part of the Mercosur trade bloc (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay).

Questions:

(1) Funding for the arts (broadly construed) is often limited in areas where there are other development pressures, such as ensuring that people have access to clean water, health care, etc. Is this counter-productive? What are the development benefits of funding art?

(2) What role does art play in the achievement of the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals? If there is no explicit role, how can the Goals be interpreted to incorporate art? Should they be interpreted in such a way?

1 comment:

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