Opposition MKs slam proposed ‘Film Law‘ on government cinematic funding

In a fiery debate on Monday in the Knesset Education, Culture and Sports Committee, MKs slammed proposed amendments to the Film Law.

The lawmakers clashed over proposed reforms to the law, which have been put forward by Culture Minister Miri Regev. In a press conference last week, Regev introduced the changes, which include a shift in how government funding is distributed to the film industry. Instead of being funneled through a variety of film funds, the culture minister wants the ministry to choose a group of script-readers – made up of people both within and outside the film industry – to decide which films would receive government funding.

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Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah said that Regev’s reforms are “as if the Chief Scientist decides from now on to only support startups that are sold to Google.” Shelah later added that the culture minister is “pushing and promoting a law designed to destroy the Israeli film industry.”

Representatives of the Israel Directors Guild stormed out of the meeting in protest of the proposals.

Assaf Amir, chairman of the Israeli Producers Association, said that filmmakers “will always look for the diverse, different, original film… we look for new voices and this is the reason that Israeli films succeed in the world. You can pass whatever law you want, but don’t tell us that you are concerned for the film industry.”

The debate over the amendments stretched out for hours on Monday. Much of the discussion focused around the claim that the bill is completely unready for a vote. Though it passed its first reading last week, Zionist Union MK Yossi Yonah presented 22 different reservations to the bill on Monday in the name of opposition MKs.

The Knesset will later this week, and Regev appears eager to push the legislation through before that happens.

Shas MK Ya’acov Margi, chairman of the committee, made it clear he also believes the bill is not yet ready for passage.

“The culture minister has brought for a vote an incoherent bill,” said Margi. “Every one of the clauses has a fix in it.” Margi added that the section of the bill dealing with commercial films “makes no sense, and the culture minister has not succeeded in convincing us that it does.” However the Shas MK – who is himself part of the coalition – said the bill would likely pass regardless because of commitments to the coalition.