Miri Regev threatens film industry, again

Culture minister: Film budget will drop by NIS 50 M if my bill does not pass.

August 26, 2018 16:50
1 minute read.
Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev wearing a dress featuring the old city of Jerusalem

Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev wearing a dress featuring the old city of Jerusalem at the Cannes Film Festival, May 17, 2017. (photo credit: ANTONIN THUILLIER / AFP)

A month after Culture Minister Miri Regev’s film industry reform failed to pass in the Knesset, she vowed to keep it alive – and threatened to slash the film industry’s budget otherwise.

In an interview with 103FM radio on Sunday, Regev said that if the bill does not pass by the end of this year, government funding for Israeli films will automatically drop from NIS 80 million to NIS 30 million.

“The Film Law – including the changes we’re currently making – will make a huge difference in the closed club called Israeli cinema,” Regev said during the radio interview.

“As soon as there is a turnover among the film fund leadership, we will be able to bring different viewpoints in the film funds.”

In July, opposition MKs successfully filibustered Regev’s reform bill from coming up for a vote in the Knesset. Many MKs and industry executives said the bill was a retaliatory measure by Regev against the film industry she has heavily criticized. The culture minister painted the bill as a way to fund films coming out of the periphery of the country, the settlements, and those with different and diverse viewpoints.

The biggest reform in the legislation is the section that calls for the establishment of a body of script readers subordinate to the Culture Ministry; the film funds would be required to hire 70% of their script readers from that body.

“We currently have a budget of NIS 80 million,” Regev said on Sunday. “In December, the current Film Law expires, and if by then I have not passed the new law, I won’t sign on [a new budget of] NIS 80m., and the film budget will drop to NIS 30m.”

The Knesset returns from its summer recess in October.

In response to Regev’s interview, Zionist Union MK Nachman Shai said he thinks the minister needs to be restrained.

“Miri Regev has gotten confused, again,” Shai tweeted on Sunday afternoon. “The film budget is not her private property. It’s a public budget that should be distributed only according to public standards.”

Yesh Atid MK Karin Elharar said Sunday that, “as usual, the minister is concerned primarily with herself and her primaries and much less with culture.”

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