The Gala Film Producing Company
The Film Producers Association in Bulgaria counts 24 members, but they are not the only producers as, according to the register of the National Film Centre at least one hundred firms also develop film-producing activities. Of these, "Gala Film" is among the most prominent film-producing company in Bulgaria. It was established as an association in May 1995 by Galina Toneva and Kiril Kirilov who have both worked as production managers until 1992 ("Ekran" Documentary Film Studios and the "Boyana" Motion Picture Studios, respectively).
Commenting on her role as a film producer in Bulgaria, Galina Toneva confesses: "Our specific is that we produce other artists' films and thus they're other people's ideas, unlike most people do here. A producer is not someone who gives money but someone who raises it. The producer is the one responsible for the film. When we started our first big project "The Friends of Emilia", it was not so difficult to raise money. It seemed that at that time we had not clearly comprehended how inadequate the reform of our economic reality was. And that's because, no matter what we say today, while the "Bulgarian Cinematography" Trust existed, it included all structures and enterprises involved in the full cycle of the film making process." "It was like a state owned Hollywood", Kirilov adds. Galina Toneva further comments: "It is extremely difficult to make a film today. There is no money for that. And even if you raise it, there is no market to distribute it. For example, "A letter from America" had 6100 spectators and "East-West" 10 000! This is absolutely nonsense".
Since its establishment till now "Gala Film" has produced 4 Bulgarian motion pictures (co-productions with France, Switzerland, Macedonia, one of them supported by EURIMAGES). It was the executive producer of films such as the "East-West" by Regis Wargnier (a co-production of France, Bulgaria and Spain, supported by EURIMAGES, "Oscar" nomination 2000) and "Gypsies' Law" (co-production of Hungary, Germany and Bulgaria, supported by EURIMAGES, Grand Prix Montreal '97) and has also produced documentaries. Among the awards won by "Gala Film" pictures are The Special Award of Karlovy Vary 2000 and the FIPRESSI Award at Thessaloniki in 1997.
"Governments are constantly changing, yet the ignorance remains the same", Galina Toneva complains. "What is a subsidy granted for? It is not a charity allowance... take for instance the case of Dimiter Petkov's film - the Bulgarian National Television presented it on air the second week after the opening. It was thus pointless to keep it on screen anymore. What's the use of the Dolby Stereo, in this case? It seems that it's only a standard that we have to live up to in order to be able to produce". Kiril Kirilov adds: "The lack of cultural policy is a disgrace! The debate over the Law on Cinema has been going on for a while now, without results, when it would be so easy to just adopt it and then amend it as the need arises. Similar countries have adopted a law and produce movies. The law creates a financial mechanism, which could complement the funds from the NFC. A country such as France retains 11% of the box office sales of each American movie presented and invest it in the CNC. In this way, they protect their national cinema industry. In our case, it is irrelevant how the money will be raised for cinematography, whether it will be a British mechanism (raising money from the lottery) or a French one, as mentioned before. What matters is that at this moment, Bulgaria earns nothing from the distribution of American films. If the law is not adopted soon, we will have to stand together and force the government to do something about it".
Lastly, Galia Toneva admits: "The films produced so far may have not been the most appropriate ones, but criticism is not the right attitude either, when for the last 8 years some 20 titles circulated. There should be some kind of state protection in order to be able to articulate issues on screen in Bulgarian! We can't apply for money as long as there aren't any preferential tax allowances."