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Cuba to legalize independent film-makers

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Havana (AFP)

Cuba is to allow independent film-makers to legally produce their own movies as of August, giving a major boost to directors and producers who have long operated in a legal grey area.

A decree published by the one-party Communist state on Thursday said that as of August 23, a new law will "approve the figure of the audiovisual and cinematographic creator as an independent artist."

It said the legalization of independent film-makers would "guarantee the quality of production and take advantage of the resources that the country uses in the development of these activities."

Ramon Samada, the director of the Cuban Cinema Institute, said in an interview with the official newspaper Granma that independent movie-makers would have "broad capabilities for the development of their work, such as the capacity to contract and be contracted, to operate bank accounts and interact with any legal Cuban or foreign person."

He said the move would include the creation of a cinema fund to back the production of Cuban film projects.

Members of the film-making community, from directors and producers to technicians and critics, have been pushing since 2013 for a new law governing the industry that would legalize the status of the independent film-maker and create a fund to help the sector develop.

At present, the only law on cinematography dates back to 1959, the year that Fidel Castro's revolutionaries took power, and provides for the creation of the Cuban Film Institute, which for decades has overseen the audiovisual industry.

But the institute's lack of funding, and the often-political decisions it has taken as to which projects get the green light, has led many film-makers to go it alone, operating in a legal grey zone.

Cuban film-makers also want the future law to apply to their fellow Cuban cineastes living in exile, but the decree published Thursday said it would only apply to those "with permanent residence" on the island.

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