Mexican film industry leaders have persuaded the federal government not to touch a stimulus fund that supports film projects.
Three award-winning directors and other prominent figures in the industry held a virtual meeting Thursday with the Chamber of Deputies culture and cinema commission to protest a plan to eliminate Fidecine, the Cinema Investment and Stimulus Fund.
Members of the Chamber of Deputies had earlier this week proposed the elimination of the fund under coronavirus belt-tightening measures, but the assembled actors and directors were able to convince deputies otherwise through impassioned arguments about the importance of film as an industry and its essential place in Mexican culture.
“If the government is allowed to do this, it’s truly a devastation within a structure of an already very fragile ecosystem. It’s like a deforestation,” Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro told Screen Daily in response to the proposed cut. He noted that support was necessary not just to foster artistic voices but to offer diversity at a time when Hollywood exports continued to dominate local box office.
“This economic crutch allowed first-time filmmakers to make movies – without it there would have been no new generation when I was coming up in the late 80s and early 90s.”
Del Toro was joined by multiple Oscar-winning directors Alejandro González Iñárritu and Alfonso Cuarón, who told the commission in a statement that the Mexican film industry “is a memory, window and mirror of our nation.”
After hearing their arguments, Deputy Mario Delgado announced that the funding would remain in place, and the government would continue to help support and grow Mexico’s film industry.
Fidecine was created in 1988 and has grown over the years to fund some 20% of Mexican films since 2002. The trust is valued at 223 million pesos or US $9.78 million.
Fidecine is one of 44 trusts, or fideicomisos, that lawmakers have proposed eliminating. Jointly they hold 91 billions pesos in funding (US $4 billion) for a range of initiatives, from filmmaking and scientific research to rural development and the protection of human rights.
President López Obrador proposed the trusts’ elimination in April, saying the money should be allocated to reactivating the post-coronavirus economy.