Colombia’s integrated approach to enhancing their film industry

This publication is part of a series of articles highlighting the key themes of the upcoming 2018 edition of UNESCO’s Global Report “Re|Shaping Cultural Policies to be launched on December 14 next at UNESCO Headquarters.

Over the last years, Colombian films have gathered increasing national and international recognition. Part of the success is the result of integrated and informed policies that reach across the film sector’s value chain.

In 2016, Colombian cinema came to the spotlight with the film “Embrace of the Serpent” (El Abrazo de la Serpiente) directed by Ciro Guerra, which became the country’s first feature to be nominated for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Language Film category.

For over a decade, Colombia’s film industry has seen a steady increase in the number of films made and audiences attending the screenings. According to the upcoming 2018 edition of UNESCO's Global Report Re|Shaping Cultural Policies, there is a strong correlation between the implementation of policies and direct financial investments across the cultural value chain and the ability of audiences to have greater access to locally produced content, particularly in developing countries.

An integrated approach

Since the adoption of Colombia’s National Culture Act (Ley Nacional de Cultura) in 1997, which established the Ministry of Culture, several pieces of legislation and policy have been adopted addressing the film industry.

The 2003 Film Law established tax incentives for film production and the Film Development Fund collected through taxes from distributors, exhibitors and film producers, targeting training, film production, research and national and international distribution. According to national statistics, the number of feature films produced in Colombia has increased from 5 (2003) to 41 (2016), and the number of admissions for national films has multiplied (2.3 million in 2007 vs. 4.7 million in 2016). Furthermore, the Film Development Fund has invested some 10.14 million USD in national film productions as of 2017. This progress has also resulted in an increase in employment for the film sector.

In 2012, the Filming Law (Ley Filmación Colombia) was also passed establishing the Colombian Film Fund, which provides financial incentives for foreign companies to shoot international films in the country, while encouraging them to hire local technicians and service providers. Other measures have also been adopted that provide capacity-building training in rural areas.

Bright road ahead

Data from the country’s Culture Satellite Account indicate that in 2013 the film and audiovisual sector was the largest cultural industry sector, accounting for 32.5% of the total value added in the cultural industries, which altogether represent more than 1.7% of Colombia’s GDP.

With a robust legislative framework addressing the film industry, the goal is to develop further measures for other cultural industry sectors. The recent adoption of the so-called “Orange Law” in April 2017 marks a promising step towards supporting the development of all cultural and creative industries.

As noted in the 2018 edition of UNESCO’s Global Report Re|Shaping Cultural Policies, the development of cultural and creative industries must be made alongside increasing mechanisms of inter-ministerial cooperation and multi-stakeholder participation in policy-making.