Algerian filmmakers have stepped up a campaign calling on their government to unlock promised public funds for cinema, warning that Algeria’s film industry is on its last legs after a nearly year-long funding freeze.
Following the first open letter published in June, the Algerian Cinematographers’ Collective published a new letter addressed to the Minister of Culture, Soraya Moulouji, demanding clarification on the government’s plans to finance cinema.
The longtime Algerian film foundation Fdatic (National Foundation for the Development of the Arts, Technology and Film Industry) was shut down in December 2021 by Muluji’s predecessor Vafa Chaalal.
The minister promised to announce a replacement fund soon, but nine months later no new scheme has been made public, and Muluji’s successor is also not in sight.
A number of completed features approved for funding under Fdatic have yet to receive their money, while several projects in development that were evaluated at the final meeting of the fund’s reading committee are now in limbo.
Public funding is a key component of funding for independent films in Algeria, where box office receipts and other additional revenues are insufficient to cover the budget.
After June’s open letter, Muluji promised in August to unblock the situation, but the collective said nothing had moved forward.
“Madam Minister, we warn you once again of the threat looming over Algerian cinema: eight months after the abolition of Fdatic, if the new state fund is not quickly put in place and the announced measures are not backed up by dates and figures, the future of Algerian cinema will be projected onto black screen,” their letter says.
So we asked to meet with you. Your staff assured us that the meeting would be arranged quickly. Unfortunately, three months later, despite numerous reminders from our side, such a meeting was not scheduled. “We filmmakers are the ones who invent, create, tell and direct stories. We ask you to join in the collective process of determining views on the public policy of cinema.
High-profile feature films awaiting final funding include the Giornate degli Autori title in Venice 2022. The last queen Adila Bendimerad and Damien Unoury, and Kamir Ainouz. honey cigarwhich opened a parallel section in 2020.
Projects in development awaiting funding decisions include Janis Kusim’s. Rokia, Yassin Bouaziz Pupia and Osama Rai Dactylo
Bendimerad, Unuri and Ainous were among those who signed the letter along with Sophia Jama, Director of Venice 2017 Horizons. Blessed; director and actor Layes Salem, who was recently seen in the movie “Venetian Skylines 2022”. For my country and Amin Sidi Boumediene, whose Abu Leila debuted and received acclaim at the 2019 Cannes Critics’ Week.
The team said they needed precise answers on when the processing of remaining features and projects would be completed, as well as updates on the replacement fund, its launch date, and budget.
“Without concrete answers to these questions, our cinema cannot project itself.” read the letter. “Algerian cinema represents its country and its people nationally and internationally.”
“Our cinema is fighting to live and thrive, in a free, unique and powerful way – just like it did in past decades, to tell our stories in our own way, with our characters, for our audiences!”
As well as The last queen Algeria was also represented in Venice this year by Jama, who was a member of the Horizon jury, and Karim Bensalah, whose upcoming film Black light was awarded five prizes in the Final Cut post-production workshop.
Other signatories to the open letter included Mohamed Benabdella, Karim Bengana, Bensalah, Yassin Bouaziz, Yasmine Shuih, Faisal Hammum, Dorothy Miriam Kellow, Malek Kellow, Janis Kusim, Nadir Moknesh, Osama Rai, Lina Sualem and Muzahem Yahya.