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Julio Raffo: “The project for cinema is prejudiced and ignorant”

Julio Raffo: “The project for cinema is prejudiced and ignorant”

Author of more than 20 books and a film (“Homemade, in prison”, 2005), major word in Philosophy of Law and Cinematographic Legislation, Dr. Julio Raffo He has been rector of the University of Lomas de Zamora appointed by President Perón, legislator of the City, national deputy, official of the former Comfer, director of the ISER, he is still active as a teacher, he recently presented his meticulous book “History of the protection and promotion of Argentine cinema” (from General Uriburu onwards) and in March he will present “Journey inside Don Quixote”, meditations based on Cervantes’ hero. “It’s just that I rest reading and writing,” he responds to someone who admires so much activity.

In these days of anxiety for culturewith so many marches and countermarches on the part of the Executive in his “omnibus law” (last weekend there was an apparent setback in decisions to close the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Theater Institute, although the lack of definition persists in the INCAA), Raffo’s voice is one of the most authoritative to speak on the matter.

”There are those who intend to include in the Project a provision according to which Congress must dictate a new film law within a yearwhich is a major nonsense or a fool’s errand, because Congress cannot impose obligations on itself, and what is the sanction that would be up to Congress in case of non-compliance? Obviously none,” she tells this newspaper. And he adds: “There is no obligation if a sanction is not foreseen for those who do not comply.”

Journalist: You, who were one of the authors of the 1994 Film Law, still in force, what do you think of the current project?

Julio Raffo: That project was not included in the extraordinary sessions of Congress, so there is still time to analyze it and then use the attacker’s force to turn it around, like in judo. It is not good to charge like a bull, with your eyes closed. Our best defense will be to insist on our own bill to reform the law, which since last year has had the support of almost all parties and ten governors. What the government presented only demonstrates ignorance, prejudice and bad temper, it is improvised and poorly written. It has inadmissible things, as well as others that are debatable, or innocuous.

P.: Let’s go in parts.

J.R..: “The key in life is knowing how to distinguish,” they said in “La zarzuela de la paloma.” That they repeal the newscasts in the cinema does not affect me: “Sucesos Argentinos” disappeared 40 years ago! The same goes for eliminating the obligation to process and subtitle copies of foreign films here. This had an impact when the copies were on film. Today the distributors send them to theaters by satellite system, or on disks. That’s harmless.

Q: And debatable?

J.R.: When the concept of “natural person” is used, something that the Civil Code erased ten years ago, or it is established that, for a film to be recognized as national, the director must be Argentine or naturalized. With that concept, Buñuel would not have made Mexican films, nor would Babenco have made Brazilian films. Here many foreigners enriched our cinema. Lautaro Murúa was Chilean! That is illegal, unconstitutional and painful discrimination, but it can be corrected. A limit of 25% of the budget for administration and salaries of the INCAA is also required. It is true that when the Institute was born the limit was 10%, and it worked. General Onganía increased it to 18%, and it worked. That can be discussed, as long as workers’ rights are respected. Furthermore, today everything is more complex.

Q.: But can’t INCAA reduce its expenses?

J.R.: In 2002, a decree by Duhalde and Lavagna invited the Institute and other public organizations to reduce their expenses and find possible savings. I don’t know if everyone did. In many ways we are “victims of our depraved nature,” as Cervantes said. But INCAA has been effective in the fight for the existence of national cinema. That can always be improved. In any case, it is worth emphasizing the value of that 2002 decree.

Q: And what would be unacceptable?

J.R..: Let us begin. Today the members of the Advisory Council are appointed by representatives of each province and film entities to control the INCAA authorities. The project wants the INCAA driver himself to choose those who should control it. In addition, it removes social aid from those who work in the cinema in various ways, aid that was a salvation during the pandemic. It also seeks to annul the screen quota, an almost universal resource that protects the access of national films to the market. All countries that want to have their own cinema establish a screen quota. The European Union establishes it even for platforms, and several countries do the same! It is also a defense against the dumping of Hollywood, which sells its products abroad at less than cost, to dominate the market, all of which are already amortized. For this reason, among other reasons, all countries that want to have their own cinema take care of it and subsidize it. Now, there is something that liberals prefer to ignore: US agriculture is subsidized! That is, each country takes care of its weak part. Another provides for the granting of subsidies at the interest rate granted by banks, when throughout the world official film organizations help producers with lower rates. If not, what help would that be? It also aims that a company can access a subsidy only every two years.

Q: Lack of knowledge.

J.R.: This shows the total and complete ignorance of the authors of this project. The logic of a production company requires continuity! You can’t just do something every two years. Worse still, the removal of resources from television, cable and other media that broadcast films, something established by Menem and Cavallo, who as I understand were not exactly socialists or Trotskyists. 80% of the INCAA machinery works thanks to these resources, but the new project wants it to be managed only with the contribution of tickets to movie theaters, barely 10% of each ticket. It is intended that INCAA can promote our cinema, and the film school, with only 10% of each ticket to a theater. Ignorance or bad temper? Like these, there are several other more than debatable, inadmissible aspects that affect the existence of national cinema and open the door to foreign productions that, curiously, would have access to national subsidies! In short, in the face of this project we must redouble the defense of our cinema, because it not only means local work and international prestige, but it is one of our identifying features. That is fundamental. Today the strategy focuses on saving our cinema from danger. The tactic will be to get into the ins and outs of politics and legislation (you always have to look at the set of laws, the Constitution, the Civil Code, etc., not just the Film Law).

Source: Ambito

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