Algerian filmmakers have stepped up a campaign calling on their government to unblock promised state funding for cinema, warning that Algeria’s film industry is at the last moment after a nearly year-long funding freeze.
After a first open letter in June, the Algerian Filmmakers Collective has published a new letter addressed to the Minister of Culture, Soraya Mouloudji, in which it once again demands clarification on the government’s financing plans for cinema.
Algeria’s Fdatic film fund (Fonds national pour le développement des arts, et de latechnic et de l’industrie du cinema) of Algeria was canceled in December 2021 by Mouloudji’s predecessor, Wafa Chaâlal.
The minister promised that a replacement fund would be announced soon, but nine months later no new plan has been put forward and successor Mouloudji has been equally uncommunicative.
A number of completed features approved for financing under Fdatic have yet to receive their money, while a handful of projects in development that were appraised by a final session of the fund’s reading committee are now in limbo.
State funding is a key component of independent film financing in Algeria, where box office receipts and other ancillary income are not sufficient to cover budgets.
After the open letter in June, Mouloudji promised in August to unblock the situation, but the collective said that nothing had progressed.
“Madame Minister, once again we alert you to the threat that hangs over Algerian cinema: eight months after the cancellation of Fdatic, if a new public fund is not quickly implemented and the announced measures are not supported by dates and figures, The future of Algerian cinema will be screened on a black screen,” his letter read.
“So, we request to meet with you. His staff assured us that a meeting would be arranged quickly. Unfortunately, three months later, despite many reminders from us, no such meeting was set,” he continued. “Directors are the ones who imagine, create, tell and direct stories. We ask to be included in the collective process of defining the panorama of public film policy”.
High-profile feature film productions awaiting final funding installments include the title Venice 2022 Giornate degli Autori the last queen by Adila Bendimerad and Damien Ounouri, and Kamir Aïnouz honey cigarwhich inaugurated the parallel section in 2020.
Projects in development awaiting financing decisions include the Yanis Koussim project rock, Yacine Bouaziz Poupiya and Osama Ray Dactyl
Bendimerad, Ounouri and Aïnouz were among the signatories of the letter together with Sofia Djama, director of Venice 2017 Horizons breakout The blessed; director and actor Lyès Salem, recently seen in the title of Venice Horizons 2022 for my country and Amin Sidi-Boumédiène, whose about Leila debuted to great acclaim at Cannes Critics’ Week in 2019.
The collective said they wanted precise answers on when the processing of features and projects that were left pending would be completed, as well as an update on the replacement fund, its release 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 strives to live and thrive, in a free, unique and powerful way, just as it has in the last few decades, to tell our stories, in our own way, with our characters, for our audiences.”
As much as the last queen, Algeria was also represented in Venice this year by Djama, who was a Horizon jury member, and Karim Bensalah, whose upcoming film black light received five awards at the Final Cut Post Production Workshop.
The other signers of the open letter included Mohamed Benabdellah, Karim Bengana, Bensalah, Yacine Bouaziz, Yasmine Chouikh, Fayçal Hammoum, Dorothée Myriam Kellou, Malek Kellou, Yanis Koussim, Nadir Moknèche, Osama Rai, Lina Soulem and Mouzahem Yahia.