Argentina’s newly elected president, Javier Milei, is steadfast in fulfilling his campaign promise to reduce state spending, which includes abolishing the national film institute (INCAA) and its film schools (ENERC).
This comprehensive draft bill, aimed at curbing hyper-inflation, has sparked a global protest from over 300 directors, producers, actresses, critics, and renowned figures in the film industry.
Academy Award winners Pedro Almodóvar, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Aki Kaurismäki, the Dardenne Brothers, and others have signed a communiqué voicing their opposition to Milei’s far-right libertarian proposal.
The coalition Cine Argentino Unido, led by film director associations, formed to oppose the bill, emphasizes Argentina’s vibrant film industry and the significant role of state institutions in regulating and promoting film activities.
They highlight the industry’s contribution to job creation, content export, and foreign investments, expressing concern that the proposed legislation could have devastating effects on the entire culture and national sovereignty.
Despite the protests, there is a glimmer of hope, as Argentina’s Congress may reject unpopular parts of the draft law, potentially leading to further street protests.
Filmmaker Celina Murga mentioned ongoing discussions with Congress members, highlighting the challenges Milei faces with his political party, La Libertad Avanza, holding a limited number of seats.
The film industry representatives argue that the current film law, which provides specific funds for the activity, should be preserved.
They stress that INCAA’s funding covers only a fraction of a film’s budget, primarily serving to attract funds from other countries. Filmmakers emphasize the self-sustainability of Argentine cinema, with INCAA’s depleting film fund now at $9 million.
Notably, support for Argentina’s cinema resonates globally, with filmmakers expressing solidarity. Walter Salles from Brazil emphasizes that culture is a necessity and belongs to a country, transcending political parties.
The protest reflects concerns about the potential impact of Milei’s proposed changes on Argentina’s rich cinematic heritage.