By Gonzalo Santos
Following a report from the Spanish Institute of Cinematography and Audiovisual Arts (“ICAA” in its Spanish acronym), Spanish courts are currently investigating whether a series of film production companies have received from the ICAA public grants based on false information.
Under the current subsidy scheme, film production companies can request repayment grants that, among other criteria, vary according to the number of spectators of a film. Due to the fact that a film has to reach a certain number of spectators simply to have access to public funding, production companies under investigation are suspected to have worked in conjunction with cinemas and film distribution companies to provide the ICAA with false figures in order to be able to receive these subsidies. There are reports which even indicate that production companies bought themselves considerable amounts of tickets for their own films in order to drive attendance figures up (the authorities have claimed that in certain cases just the inspectors they had sent occupied a cinema room that was supposedly filled by public). These fraudulent activities could amount to several million euros.
Nonetheless, it should be noted that the scheme under which the controversial subsidies were granted will be gradually replaced by a new one in which producers will be able to receive public grants during the production process of the film. This new system, which is more transparent and offers additional flexibility for film producers, will be introduced in 2016, and will coexist with the current one until 2018.