Industry status

The cinemas welcome the government. decision to grant “industrial” status

  • Prime Minister and Industry Minister’s joint proposal wins Cabinet approval
  • Cabinet co-spokesperson said film industry contributed Rs. 1.9 billion to GDP in 2019
  • Stakeholders say move will pave way for new investment and allow producers to fund new films
  • Stresses that state support is long overdue as only 50% of cinemas survived post-pandemic

By Charumini de Silva

Film actors welcomed the government’s decision to formally grant ‘industry’ status, but said they were waiting for more clarity on the move as details on how it would benefit them had not been announced. not yet disclosed.

The proposal to this effect was jointly submitted by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in his capacity as Minister of Cultural Affairs and Minister of Industries Wimal Weerawansa received Cabinet of Ministers endorsement this week.

“The contribution of the cinema industry to the GDP stood at Rs. 1.9 billion in 2019,” Co-Cabinet Spokesperson and Media Minister Dullas Alahapperuma said during the press conference after the meeting. of the Cabinet.

He also pointed out that recognition from India’s Bollywood-dominated film industry has played a key role in its current success, like most other countries.

The Daily FT spoke to a number of film exhibitors, distributors, importers, directors, producers and writers, who all welcomed the Cabinet of Ministers’ step-by-step decision to recognize the trade in the country’s cinema as an industry with a view to promoting and conquering international markets. recognition for the sector.

“We are extremely satisfied with the decision taken by the government in this crucial post-pandemic period. Prime Minister Rajapaksa has always been very supportive of the film industry and it was an industry plea for the past decades, but the authorities turned a deaf ear,” said Imthiaz J. Cader, Managing Director of Liberty Cinemas Ltd.

He said the move will pave the way to attract more investment and grow the industry in the future.

Cader also expressed hope that the government would consult with industry stakeholders and include proposals to liberalize the film industry in Sri Lanka.

Director, producer and screenwriter Udayakantha Warnasuriya described the decision as a big win for the long overdue Sri Lankan film industry.

“This is something industry stakeholders have been calling for for decades. We hope that this decision will allow the cinema business to develop as a stronger industry so that it can be recognized in international cinema,” he added.

Warnasuriya also pointed out that stakeholders would be allowed to develop financiers and investors while producers would have more freedom to finance creations.

“Industry status will provide banks with a better record to facilitate future projects at lower interest rates. It will also grant us a preferential electricity tariff like that given to other industries,” Warnasuriya said. .

Lanka Film Distributors Ltd. Chairman Rakith Sugathadasa, while appreciative of the decision, however, said it may be too late.

“The decision will help all stakeholders engaged in the industry. However, I worry if we arrive too late; out of the 200 cinemas we had, only 100 survived after the pandemic,” he added.

Sugathadasa also said he hoped the government would update the Film Corporation Act of 1971 to promote and develop the industry to par with international standards.

Ben Holdings Group Director Seelan Jeyaseelan welcomed the Cabinet’s decision and said he was waiting for more clarity as the implications for stakeholders had yet to be spelled out.

“We have to wait and see until the decision is released to make any further comments,” he said.