The interior minister, Pascal Couchepin, has spoken out about film industry funding at the opening of the 40th Swiss film festival in Solothurn.
Couchepin, who is also responsible for culture, said Swiss filmmakers had to be creative to make up for a lack of funding.
Couchepin said the state had to remain in the background when it comes to promoting the arts and culture.
“Culture needs absolute freedom in order to develop,” Couchepin said in his opening speech on Monday.
He added that the state would continue to support cultural achievements, and dismissed any attempt by the political Left or the Right to use culture for its own ends or to impose censorship.
However, Couchepin said it was unrealistic to expect more government money for films in the near future.
Parliament has limited funding to SFr95 million ($80 million) until 2007.
A little push
Couchepin also announced that film distributors and producers in the French- and Italian-speaking parts of the country could benefit from SFr800,000 in additional financial support.
The measure is aimed at redressing the imbalance with filmmakers in the larger German-speaking part of the country who receive the lion’s share of box office receipts.
Couchepin praised the organisers of the annual film festival as promoters of Swiss films at home and abroad.
He said the event had become a must for film buffs and representatives of the film industry over the past four decades.
Couchepin added that the increasing popularity of the Solothurn festival and Wednesday’s film prize ceremony underlined the importance of the event.
The festival director, Ivo Kummer, pointed out that it remained very difficult to produce feature films in Switzerland.
About 180 recent productions – feature films, documentaries, experimental and animation films – are being screened during the weeklong festival.
This year’s retrospective is devoted to one of Switzerland’s best-known actors, Bruno Ganz, who recently played Hitler in Der Untergang (The Downfall), while films from the former Yugoslavia are shown in a special section.
swissinfo with agencies
The Solothurn film festival runs until January 30.
Organisers expect up to 40,000 spectators to watch a total of 179 films.
Parliament approved SFr95 million ($80 million) in subsidies for Swiss audio-visual productions until 2007.
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