Algerian Film Directors Sound Alarm Over Canceled Film Fund

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A group of prominent Algerian film directors is sounding the alarm over the de-facto cancellation of the country’s national film fund, which they say puts Algerian cinema “at risk of death.”

In an open letter to Algerian culture minister Malika Bendouda, the North African country’s filmmakers are lamenting “no future for our films” after a government support scheme, called the National Fund for the Development of the Arts and Techniques of Cinema (Fdatic), was scrapped last year by the government.

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The culture ministry has given Algeria’s film community vague assurances that this fund would be replaced by another support scheme, but that hasn’t yet materialized. Nor has the minister replied to several previous, less clamorous, requests for clarification about the future of what is considered a crucial driver for local filmmaking.

The open letter’s 18 signatories include Amin Sidi-Boumédiène, whose civil war drama “Abou Leila” was in Cannes in 2021; Kamir Aïnouz, whose “Honey Cigar” went to Venice in 2021; Hassen Ferhani, whose 2019 observational doc “143 Sahara Street” went to Locarno and Toronto; Yasmine Chouikh (“Until The End Of Time”); Sofia Djama (“The Blessed”); and newcomer Damien Ounouri, whose debut feature, costume drama “The Last Queen,” was approved for financing that is now being held back.

Between January 2015 and June 2020 the Algerian national film fund supported a total of 139 films, including shorts and docs, providing up to €300,000 ($321,000) of the budget in some cases.

“We ask you today, and with no more delay, to officially and clearly make a statement. First of all, on the position of the Algerian government towards Algerian public funding of cinema,” they said.

“And secondly on the specific resolution of projects that have been submitted to the fund and are still pending,” the open letter’s signatories added. 

The Algerian government in December 2021 scrapped Fdatic, citing national budget cuts and alleged mismanagement. They said support for film productions would be provided by a new national film industry org that was formally established in October 2021 but is still not operational.

This year, for the first time in years, Algeria did not have a national pavilion or stand in Cannes.

The open letter from the robust group of Algerian film directors follows an appeal made in April by the Association of Algerian Producers of Cinema (APAC), to Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, which fell on deaf ears.

“We invite all Algerian directors to join us,” the signatories said. “We invite all other corporations in our industry — writers, actors, crews — to join us and APAC.”

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