I have often written about how difficult it is to be part of the Spanish film industry, and as a result obtain subsidies, interest from national public broadcaster TVE or from Spanish film festivals. All of these elements are inter-related and guided by a common denominator: who your friends are. Sad, but true. For film subsidies for instance, the selection committee doesn’t actually read all 400+ applications but simply looks at who the director is, or the producer.
If your name counts, it’s better to be called Pepe Sanchez than Koen Suidgeest. I am living proof of that! So, in the process of making Karla’s Arrival, I have resigned to the fact that, despite living in Spain, here I won’t be able to count on any support from anyone ever. That way, I won’t be disappointed.
Think about it: the second documentary ever to get support from the prestigious ITVS International, a film with nine international pre-sales to other countries, one of the few films ever to be chosen to pitch at the IDFA Forum, made by a Spanish Academy Award nominee… and no support from the Ministry of Culture, TVE doesn’t return my calls, the film festival in Valladolid (generally considered the festival of Spanish cinema whom I offered the world premiere) doesn’t want us…
Not getting a subsidy from the ICAA (the Ministry of Culture) was a major blow last year and made me come to this “you-won’t-ever-be-part-of this-and-maybe-better-so” realization. And accept it. But this morning I was in their offices and things have gotten worse. Instead of me receiving support for producing culture, I now need to pay them to actually watch the film to get the age certificate required by law. This is a first, as far as I remember.
Now, it’s not much money: 1,3868 euros for every 11 minutes of film or part thereof. In my case, 12,48 euros. But still… it seems like a paradox. Should I expect public services to be free? Probably not. Should I expect, after all this time, to get the support others are also getting for far less successful projects? Definitely.