What is the 6.5 million allocated for cinema spent on?

On May 31, the Union of Cinematographers of Azerbaijan (UCA) elected its new chairman. People's Artist Rasim Balayev was voted unanimously for the candidacy, and he was elected chairman. It should be noted that after the death on March 10 of the previous chairman of the UCASKA, people's writer Rustam Ibrahimbayov, this post was vacant.

There are two public cinematographic organizations in Azerbaijan. These are the Union of Cinematographers of Azerbaijan, founded in 1963, and the Union of Cinematographers of the Republic of Azerbaijan, established on June 21, 2012 (on the eve of Rustam Ibrahimbayov’s intervention in politics and  the aggravation of his relations with the authorities), during an event on the theme “Cinema and Conceptual Problems”, held at the Cinema Center “Nizami".

So, the Union of Cinematographers of Azerbaijan is headed by People's Artist Rasim Balayev, and the Union of Cinematographers of the Republic of Azerbaijan is headed by People's Artist Shafiga Mammadova.

However, in addition to these structures, there is also the Film Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The decree on the creation of a public legal entity under this name was signed on April 20 this year by the President of the Republic. In a word, in such a small country as Azerbaijan, there are cinematographic organizations at once.

What contribution did these organizations make to the development of cinema? Why has not a single tape been created at the level of world cinema in recent years? Where do the funds allocated annually from the state budget for the development of cinema go?

We asked the secretary of this union, Alisa Jabbarov about what is happening in the field of cinema, as well as about expectations after the elections to the Union of Cinematographers of Azerbaijan.

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Question: Elections to the Union of Cinematographers of Azerbaijan took place on May 31. People's artist Rasim Balayev was elected chairman. The names of new members of the Board of this organization were also announced. Who are they and do they have anything to do with cinema?

Answer: At the conference of the Union of Cinematographers of Azerbaijan, new members of the Board were accepted: art critic Nadir Badalov, producer Fatima Ibrahimbayova, professor Gulu Maharramli, film director Rovshan Isakh. And although these names need no introduction for my colleagues, in answer to your question I will say that such intellectuals as Gulu Maharramli and Nadir Badalov are needed by our Union as a think tank, their creative biography contains dozens of films. Fatima Ibrahimbayova, producer of international film projects, film director Rovshan Isakh was accepted as a member of the board for his talent and professionalism.

Question: What should we expect from Rasim Balayev and the Union of Cinematographers? What steps will be taken to solve the problems of cinema? Is there energy and will for this?

Answer: The creative personality and authority of Rasim Balayev has, first of all for our colleagues, a very strong unifying potential. Uniting our filmmakers around him is entirely possible. And we already feel the flow of appeals. Secondly, the advantage of Rasim Balayev is his ability to solve the problems of cinema with government agencies. The country's leadership believes in him. And thirdly, he has authority among the people. And this is a positive factor for any organization. I am sure that Rasim Balayev will become a more effective defender of the interests of our cinema.

Question: What problems does cinema have today? Why do not  they make films corresponding to the level of world standards? What is the main reason for this?

Answer: The first reason is the inefficient use of public investment. Even though the “state program for the development of Azerbaijani cinema in 2008-2018” signed by the president was an ideal roadmap, the document indicated in this document was sabotaged and not implemented. Now the creation of a legal entity of public law "Cinema Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan" has been announced. This is a powerful tool. But this is just a tool. Much depends on whose hands it ends up in. That is, the personnel policy... In any case, this is an important step - there are more hopes than skepticism. And as a summary, I will note that the main problems are the efficient use of public funds, the training of screenwriters and producers.

Question: Every year  money are allocated from the budget for cinematography. Where is this money going? Is there corruption and theft in this area?

Answer: The report of the Accounts Chamber says about violations. We, creative individuals, evaluate the result of the work: half of 2022 has already passed, but not a single full-length feature film has been put into production. What are the 6.5 million spent on? The Chamber also noted a lack of transparency. If during the year 3-5 full-length films, more than 10 short feature films are not handed over, it means that the funds are spent inefficiently.

Question: The "Cinema Agency" was recently established. In addition, there are the Union of Cinematographers of Azerbaijan and the Union of Cinematographers of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Not too many three film organizations for one small country?

Answer: The agency is a state institution, and the unions are NGOs. Their number may be subject to discussion. But the main thing is the result of their work. The agency has not yet formed. We, as the Union of Cinematographers of Azerbaijan, annually distribute reports on the website (https://aki.az/) and in printed format. The report is also presented in our quarterly publication. If everyone works in an accountable way, then it will not matter how many NGOs in our cinema - one or ten, as long as they work.

Question: Where should one begin to solve the problems of cinema? What steps need to be taken for this?

Answer: First of all, it is necessary to take serious administrative measures in connection with the report of the Accounts Chamber on the expenditure of public funds. Then it is necessary to increase investments by 2-3 times in the training of screenwriters and producers, in the shooting of debut films. The initial goal is to increase the quantitative indicators of production as part of the current state subsidy. And after the transition from quantity to quality, we can already talk about an increase in state subsidies.

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İran Prezidentinin həlak olduğu hadisə Azərbaycan- İran münasibətlərinə təsir edə bilərmi? – Nəsimi Məmmədli Çətin sualda

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