Announced recently by Iceland’s Minister of Finance and Economy within its Budget proposal for 2023, the envisaged cut of 28.8% to the Icelandic Film Centre’s overall budget of ISK 1.67 billion for 2022 would take it down to ISK 1,19 billion (€8.54 million), a slash of ISK483.6 million (€3.4m) for next year.

The Ministry of Culture and Trade justified the cuts by the postponement until 2024 of the extra ISK500 million (€3.5 million) injection into film & TV originally planned for 2023, on top of new austerity measures across various sectors of the economy.

The Ministry also underlined that it had recently implemented the increased reimbursement rate for larger projects from 25% to 35% (see separate story: CLICK HERE).

Lilja Dögg Alfredsdóttir, Minister of Culture and Trade said: "I watch Icelandic filmmaking grow day by day and see the energy that takes place within the industry. It is amazing to watch the development, to see how much it contributes to culture and to society as a whole. We have truly protected and placed great emphasis on film production and will continue to do so, despite this temporary postponement of the investment effort and the austerity requirements we are all dealing with according to the new budget.”

Reacting to the proposed cuts for 2023, writer/director Ragnar Bragason, Chairman of the Icelandic Filmmakers’ Association told “Of course [this news] came as a shock to us as things have been on a great roll the last two years, or ever since the Minister of Culture and the government published a long overdue film policy [2020-2030] and added funds. This is the third time in twelve years that the film fund has been cut substantially, by approximately 30-40%. So maybe it’s nothing new, but not a thing you want to get used to. Each time it takes a major effort from Icelandic filmmakers to build this fragile industry up again and try to prevent major brain drain.”

The director of the series Prisoners goes on: “There are general cutbacks on the financial Bill for next year, but if things go as proposed we will miss at least three or four Icelandic film projects, for cinema and television. That being said, on a positive note we are currently having a constructive conversation with the Minister and her people on ways to prevent this disaster. We hope for the best!” he said.

Join Motion Picture producer Anton Máni Svansson (Godland, Beautiful Beings) who serves as Chairman of the Icelandic Producers’ Association also said the government’s proposed cuts came as “a big surprise and a huge shock to the whole industry.” “Such a cut would have serious impact on our local productions, and result in the loss of approximately four large projects, and it would basically mean killing the new TV support scheme just before it saw the light of day.” (see our story about the Film Policy until 2030 - CLICK HERE).

“In the last days, we have however been in a constructive dialogue with the Ministry of Culture and Trade, and we maintain the hope that they will find a way to rectify this situation, as well as to overall make good on their promise to uphold the new Film Policy,” said Svansson.

No doubt the government’s proposed cuts to the Icelandic Film Centre will be discussed this week at the Reykjavik International Film Festival (September 29-October 9) and its adjoining Industry Days.