The Cultural reform in Bulgaria started with the cinema. In 1991 the state monopoly in cinema was abolished, as the "Bulgarian Cinematography" Trust was shut down. The newly established National Film Centre (NFC) to the Ministry of Culture was entitled to be its lawful successor. It is "a subject of budgetary subsidizing aiming at co-ordination of film production and film servicing, producing and film distributing activities." The statutes of the NTC have been adopted in 1991 and accommodated the European (predominantly the French) model of support for national film production.
The NFC realizes its goals through National Committees according to the cinema types. They grant state subsidy to the beneficiary producer (from 50% to 80% of the budget of a selected project) on open competition basis.
The NFC organizes the work of the selection committees, supports producers in realization of international co-productions and making financial bids at calls of international funds, it controls the expenditure of budgetary funding, and it supports promotion of Bulgarian cinema at home and abroad.
In 1992 Bulgaria was accepted as a member of EURIMAGES - the Pan-European fund for support of co-productions. The country is also an active member of the "Audiovisual Eureka" intergovernmental organisation.
Since 1992 till 2001 24 motion pictures, 30 documentaries and scientific features and 22 animated films have been produced with the support of the state. Largest subsidies have been granted in 2000 - 1 530 000 BGN and in 2002 - 2 000 000 BGN.
The share of the Bulgarian financing in new film productions is different during the years:
Motion pictures with annual national financing (the number decreases from 9 to 1-2); motion pictures with major Bulgarian contribution (usually 1-2); motion pictures with minor Bulgarian contribution (between 1 and 3); full length documentaries (average 1); short documentaries (the number decreases abruptly from 50 through 20 to as little as 5-6) and animated films (decrease from 20-30 to 3-4).
In the period 1990 - 1995 8 films (2 of them two series films) have been created with private investment. Since their distribution did not achieve the expected effect, investors decided against support for Bulgarian cinema. The Film Production Centre to the Bulgarian National Television (BNT) started intensive activities in 1999 - 2000. It granted 2 300 000 BGN in 1999, and 3 500 000 BGN in 2000. Almost 20% of this funding have been granted to film projects of the NFC (mainly motion pictures), realized as co-productions with the BNT. The BNT is the co-producer of the 5 motion pictures receiving state subsidy and started in 1999.
According to statistics the average production value of a Bulgarian motion picture has been decreased in 1996 to as little as 175 000 $ and smoothly arises to as much as 413 000 $ in 2001. The low production complexity does not secure sound competitiveness of Bulgarian films in comparison with the foreign productions.
Bulgarian films have a limited potential market - with 8 000 000 population, 170 operating cinemas in the country the annual visiting capacity is estimated at 1,35 per capita. The internal market may cover only 15% revenue of the production expenditure of the film. Sales abroad are mainly for television networks and in most of the cases are realized as financing of the production costs.
In the last several years for the first time our films succeeded to become subjects of contracts for world distribution with foreign distributing companies. Our film production has no chance to be stabilized, unless in the not too distant future a new Cinema Law is adopted, in order to regulate the financing mechanism and promotion of national cinema.
For 10 years now there runs the talk over the establishment of the "Bulgarian Cinema Fund" to accumulate resources from state subsidy and dividends from cinema and video distribution income.
In a country under a currency board like Bulgaria, there is not any other alternative left for revitalizing the normal film cycle.