Eastern Europe cinema regularly meets success in festivals, whether they are international festivals or dedicated festivals, and in the French theatres. Among them we can evoke films of Romanian director Cristian Mungiu such as « Baccalauréat » coproduced by the French producer Why not production. We can also evoke more discreet productions as « Crache Cœur » directed by Julia Kowalski and coproduced by Les Films de Françoise, or Anne Fontaine’ s film « Innocents », a French movie coproduced with a Polish society, Aeroplan film. Finally, Cristi Puiu’s « Sierranevada » is an amazing example of cooperation between France, Romania, Croatia, Bosnia and Macedonia.
Individually the number of co-production per country remains rather low, but in 2015 France co-produced 12 films with east countries (Bosnia, Croatia, Bulgaria ...) including 5 with Romania.
In many countries, this cinema is in full development and therefore it is a favorable environment for international co-productions, especially since many of these countries are members of the European Union and offer law wages and services.
We will see here that many co-production agreements have been concluded between France and the Eastern Europe countries and that the latter offer more and more financing solutions, especially funding dedicated to co-productions.
COPRODUCTION TREATIES BETWEEN FRANCE AND EASTERN EUROPE
France has long-standing relations with Eastern Europe countries regarding cinematographic co-production. In particular, we can highlight the French-Yugoslav co-production treaty concluded in 1975. Following the dissolution of Yugoslavia, relations with France continued: some countries took up the treaty (such as Serbia) and new treaties have been signed (notably with Slovenia and Croatia).
The coproduction treaty with Czechoslovakia was even older, as concluded in 1968. Is has been taken up by Czech republic and Slovakia in 1996. Within the treaty the proportions contributed by the respective co-producers from both countries shall be between 30 and 70 % per film. It is understood that all co-production films shall involve, from both sides, an effective artistic and technical participation.
Moreover, these last few years we can notice a strong development of relationships between France and Eastern Europe, which has been reflected in the successive signatures of numerous co-production treaties: with Romania in 2009, Ukraine, Slovenia and Bulgaria in 2011, Poland in 2012, Hungary and Croatia in 2015.
All these treaties provide that the proportion of the respective contributions of the co-producer(s) of each country in the co-production is strictly framed and may vary between 20% and 80% of the final cost of the film. However, coproducers may benefit from an exemption and with the consent of the competent authorities of both countries, the minority co-producer’s contribution may be reduced to 10% (ten per cent). In a general terms and except from specific derogation, it is understood that all co-production shall involve, from both sides, an effective artistic and technical participation.
It is important to note that Albania, Armenia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Slovakia are all, like France, member of Eurimages. Therefore, a coproduction between France and any of these countries allows the co-producers to apply for Eurimages support for co-productions. This support is selective and refundable. Annual budget is up to 23 M euros and the amount can reach 500 000 per film for fiction and animated movies and 50 000 € for documentaries. Producers must respect pretty strict conditions: co-productions treaties must me enforced, 50 % of each coproducers financing shall be secured, non European co-producers’ share may not exceed 30% and majority co-producers’ share can not exceed 70 %. Finally, we can highlight that generally coproduction with more than 2 co-producers are favoured to benefit from this support.
NATIONAL AND REGIONAL SUPPORTS
Eastern Europe countries offer several national and regional supports. Naturally we cannot make an exhaustive list of these supports, but we propose to detail some of them.
Available funding in Poland:
Polish Film Institute offers a « Minority co-productions scheme » that supports movie coproduction that involved a Polish producer. This support is selective and refundable and benefits from a 2 000 000euros annual budget. It may support a fiction film up to a maximum of 469 000 to 1 million euros (if Polish majority). Moreover, some criteria must be met notably, in the context of fiction film, at least one head of department must be Polish. The support is open to all co-productions, including financial and non-official co-productions.
Poland is also full of regional supports such as the Lodz regional film fund which has an annual budget of € 142,000 and a maximum amount of € 50 000 per film, the Silesian Film Fund with € 310,000 per year or the Krakow Film Fund and its annual budget of € 250,000 that can be entirely allocated to a single movie. Each regional support has its specificities, and implies a total or significant localization of expenditure in the relevant region.
Available financings in Croatia
Croatian Audiovisual Center also offers a support for minority co-productions, which is selective and subject to a cultural test but is non-refundable. This support is capped at € 98,000 for dramas and € 41,250 for documentaries and it is provided that 60 per cent of the amount awarded must be spent in Croatia. This scheme is opened only for official co-productions and co-producers must have secured 50% of the film financing.
Croatian producers can also apply for a grant for feature films. This grant has an annual budget of € 3 857 000 and can support a fiction film up to € 565 000 and a documentary up to € 51 000. Again, the amount allocated must be spent in the country at 60%.
Croatia also offers a tax credit for film production. This tax incentive has an annual amount of 2.6 million euros and can be up to 265 000 € for fiction films, 40 000 € for documentaries and 67 000 € for animated films. It is understood that projects must complete a cultural test and 70% of Croatian funding must be confirmed. The allocated sums must be spent in full in Croatia.
Available financings in Czech Republic
Production support is very attractive in the Czech Republic; it is selective but does not require a cultural test. Above all, it admits financial and non-official co-productions as long as the Czech share of the budget reaches 20%. Its annual budget is divided between development (€ 0.6 million); Production (€ 5.1 million). The amount allocated can reach 250 000 for minority coproduction and 740 000 euros for majority coproduction and must be spent to 50% in the country.
A tax credit is also available. This tax incentive has an annual amount of 29 600 636 €. This support requires to complete a cultural test and 75% of the film financings must have been secured. The allocated amount can reach 10 to 20 % of the qualifying expenses.
Finally, the city of Prague also offers a non-refundable support for foreign productions with an annual budget of € 3 700 960. This support is granted only to films that specifically show the city.
Available financings in Slovakia
There again, Slovakia offers a minority copoduction scheme, selective and refundable, understood that 80 % of the granted amount shall be spent in the country. This support may reach at most € 500 000 per film within the limit of 30% of the film’s budget. Minority co-producer’s share must at least reach 10% and 30% of the Slovak financing must be secured.
Slovak producers can also apply for a grant for feature films. This grant has an annual budget € 4,5 M and can support a film up to €1,2 M. This support is selective but does not imply location of the expenditures in the country.
A tax credit is also provided for Czech producers, with an annual budget of € 4.5 million. A cultural test must be completed regarding notably the crew, the language and the script. A producer may also submit a group of films within the limit of 3 projects.
Available financings in Romania:
Romania National Film Center offers a production support selective, subject to a cultural test and refundable. Its amount can reach up to 500 000 € for fiction, 400 000 € for animation and 160 000 € for documentaries. Producers must be aware that the admission for the support is only valid for 18 months and that the film production must start 6 months after signature and the film be delivered within a maximum of 2 years.
Available financings in Hungary:
Hungary offers a production support non recoupable, which is really interesting for the producers. Nonetheless, this support is pretty selective: it requires to complete a cultural test and the producer must have already released a film in theatres or have had a film selected by a festival. Only official co-productions are eligible and the producer's salary must be at most 4% of the budget. Hungary also offers a tax credit.
In view of the above, it appears that collaborations between France and Eastern Europe producers offer many possibilities for financing and can be considered in the context of the development and production of films. Within such international collaborations, it is essential to ensure that the relationships between producers and their partners are effectively framed both for development, production and distribution of the films. To do so and in order to meet the needs of the producers, it is strongly advised to resort to a specialized legal counsel.