Introduction

The film industry in Poland can now benefit from a new financial support scheme. Under the Act on Financial Support for Audiovisual Production 2018 (Journal of Laws 2019/50), the Polish Film Institute will offer cash rebates as a form of support for the production of feature films, documentaries, animated films and TV series. As a result, Poland will follow in the footsteps of the majority of other European countries that already have similar incentives. The general aims of the scheme are to:

  • assist the audiovisual market;
  • attract foreign capital;
  • support the production of films in Poland; and
  • promote Poland and its cultural heritage abroad.

Eligible parties

It is hoped the new mechanism will facilitate the development of the creative sectors, boost film production and facilitate international cooperation in the film industry.

Those entitled to receive financial assistance(1) are:

  • Polish entities acting as producers, co-producers or service providers; and
  • producers or co-producers that are based in an EU or a European Free Trade Agreement country and which have a branch in Poland, provided that:
    • they have the relevant experience;
    • the audiovisual production will be carried out in Poland; and
    • they meet the general requirements under state aid rules.

Scheme operation

The Polish Film Institute will operate the scheme in parallel with the existing support schemes that it administers under other laws on cinema. The new rules define in detail the "Polish qualified costs" that can be reimbursed, in line with Regulation 615/2014. The range of costs is wide and the list covers the various stages of film production. Financial support will be provided for up to 30% of Polish qualified costs (with the reference basis being 80% of the total production costs). Up to Zl15 million can be allocated to a single production (a film or a season in the case of a series). Each individual beneficiary is entitled to total support of Zl20 million a year.

Distribution of funds

The funds will be distributed on a first come, first served basis, following an evaluation process that will assess the extent to which an audiovisual production:

  • draws on Polish or European cultural heritage;
  • sets the plot in Poland; and
  • involves Polish resources in the production process.

Applications will be processed within 28 days. Successful candidates will sign a contract with the Polish Film Institute; the funds will then be transferred to a fiduciary account and will be released on successful verification of the report to be filed on completion of the project covered by the support scheme.

It remains to be seen how effective the new incentives will be. The legal basis set out in the new act is simple and structured, and the total budget planned for 2019 is significant (up to Zl210 million, or nearly €50 million; interestingly, at least 10% of the funds will be allocated to animation). Details concerning the standard application and evaluation forms have been finalised and the project has been launched, as the new act entered into force on 11 February 2019.

Comment

There is now a good chance that Hollylódz (a term echoing 'Hollywood' once coined to refer to the city of Lodz, the seat of a famous film college and once a busy centre of Poland's film industry) will revive in some form thanks to the foreign beneficiaries of the programme.

For further information on this topic please contact Katarzyna Michalowska at Soltysinski Kawecki & Szlezak by telephone (+48 22 608 7000) or email (katarzyna.michalowska@skslegal.pl ). The Soltysinski Kawecki & Szlezak website can be accessed at www.skslegal.pl.

Endnotes

(1) The scheme is classified as state aid compatible with the internal market in application of Articles 107 and 108 of the Treaty under Commission Regulation 651/2014.

This article was first published by the International Law Office, a premium online legal update service for major companies and law firms worldwide. Register for a free subscription.