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For instance, contemporary Polish cinematography has become more appreciated world-wide than ever before, as evidenced by the Academy Award received by Paweł Pawlikowski's Ida or the three Academy Award nominations received by his Cold War, or the Academy Award nomination received by Loving Vincent in the Best Animated Feature category.
Despite of success of Polish filmmakers worldwide, Poland has not proven to be an attractive market for international film production, especially in comparison to other Central European countries. Most these countries have introduced systems of financial support for international productions which take place within their territories or which are carried out in co-operation with local partners as co-productions.
Up until now, Poland has not offered any such financial incentives which would aid in making Poland more competitive on the filmmaking market. However, the brand new Polish Act on financial support for audiovisual production, which just entered into force on 11 February 2019, is expected to finally give Poland a competitive edge.
The Cash Rebate System
The Act provides for a 30 per cent cash rebate for qualifying Polish costs (but no more than 80 per cent of the total production costs). The maximum amount of an individual grant of financial support is PLN15 million (EUR 3.33 million/ USD4.05 million), and the maximum total amount of financial support which may be granted to one producer/entity in a particular calendar year, is PLN20 million (EUR 4.76 million/ USD5.4 million). The annual budget earmarked for such financial incentives will amount to approximately PLN200 million (EUR 47.6 million/ USD54 million), a minimum of 10 per cent of which must be allocated for support to animation production.
The Act specifies the categories of qualifying Polish costs, which include those incurred on account of
The costs of goods or services will be considered to be “Polish” for the purposes of the Act if the goods or services are:
Which Productions May Apply?
Cash rebates are available to the producers or co-producers of feature films, animations, documentaries and TV series, or to an entity providing an audiovisual production service, if they have their registered office (or at least an agency) in Poland. They must have a sufficient output (meaning that they are a producer of an audiovisual work which is distributed, broadcast, or presented at at least one FIAP accredited film festival) or at least employ an individual having sufficient filmmaking experience. Applicants of the rebate must also have signed a co-production agreement (or an agreement for the provision of services) regarding a production on the Polish territory and meet the legal requirements for valid state aid.
Additionally, in order to apply for this rebate, the production should meet certain minimum criteria regarding its planned runtime and a certain minimum of Polish eligible costs. These minimum criteria are set out in the regulations of the Ministry of Culture (for example, the respective minimums regarding feature films for 2019 are a runtime of 70 minutes and PLN2.5 million in costs).
The incentive system is managed by the Polish Film Institute. Producers may apply for this support between two to six months prior to the beginning of production. Importantly, the application may only be submitted if at least 75 per cent of production’s cost are confirmed.
The application fee is 0.05 per cent of the estimated amount of support expected, but no more than PLN1,000 (about EUR240/ USD270).
The application’s “cultural test“ should be completed by the producer when preparing it. This section of the application sets criteria and scores the impact of the production on the development of Polish audiovisual market and the promotion of Polish culture.
With regards to this test, the applicant producer may, independent of the support application, apply for a non-obligatory certificate which confirms that the project meets the criteria set out in this section of the application. This certificate, valid for four years, does not, however, guarantee that the production will receive the funding.
The Institute has up to 28 calendar days to assess the application. If the application receives a positive assessment, the parties (i.e. the institute and the applicant) will conclude a financial support agreement.
The payment of the funds will be accounted and transferred into an escrow account by the institute. The beneficiary of the rebate will then be able to withdraw from the funds on the escrow account only after a final report on the audiovisual production is presented to and positively assessed by the institute.
What Do We Think?
The Polish film sector has long waited for regulations aimed at improving Poland’s position on the European filmmaking scene. Given the incentives schemes and infrastructure already in place in other Eastern and Central European countries, the Polish legislature had no other option but to face this tough competition head on. The question, however, is whether or not the new financial support system will be attractive enough to incentivise potential investors and co-producers.
Agnieszka Wiercinska-Kruzewska is a co-founder and senior partner at WKB, head of intellectual property and TMT team, also closely cooperates with the M&A team. A graduate of the Faculty of Law and Administration at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, As a holder of the Soros Foundation scholarship at the Central European University in Budapest she completed an LL.M course in international commercial law. She advises clients on all aspects of copyright, industrial property, consumer law, unfair competition, personal data protection, internet domains, press law and protection of personal rights. Agnieszka has also extensive experience in legal advisory services concerning sensitive product marketing and gambling. Within her areas of practice, apart from providing ongoing advice, she represents clients in litigation and arbitration proceedings. She has many years’ experience in the acquisition of companies on private market.
How About Filmmaking in Poland? The Brand New Polish Law on Financial Incentives for Film Producers
Written by Agnieszka Wiercinska-Kruzewska and Milena Bogdanowicz
WKB Wiercinska, Kwiecinski, Baehr
Poland has always been known of its cinematographic heritage. The styles and trends of the Polish film school and the ‘cinema of moral anxiety’ movement have echoed throughout European and American filmmaking alike. Krzysztof Kieślowski, Andrzej Wajda and Roman Polański are just a selection from among the big names from whose best works the film world has drawn inspiration.
is a member of the Intellectual Property & TMT team. She specialises in intellectual property law, with a focus on film, media and advertising law, and in press law and protection of personal rights. For the last 10 years, she has assisted entities from the creative and entertainment industries, including film and TV producers, production and post-production houses, and book publishers. She has vast experience in advertising and marketing law, having advised the leading domestic and international advertising agencies (including digital ones) as well as marketing departments. Milena provides assistance to industry organisations of audiovisual producers as well as advertising and marketing entities in particular by drafting and reviewing drafts of legal regulations regarding these entities. She represents clients in the so-called “media crisis” situations, during the pre-trial stage and the trial itself. She supports PR departments and agencies in developing media strategies for both public and private sector clients.
Milena is involved in pro bono work such as the HejtStop project aimed at combating online hate speech, Centrum PRO BONO, and the Strategic Litigation Programme of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights.
A graduate of the Faculty of Law and Administration at the Warsaw University and the Russian Law School at the Lazarski University in Warsaw, Milena holds lectures and workshops on intellectual property law, including film, advertising and press law, e.g. at the Advertising University of SAR Marketing Communication Association, the Polish Audiovisual Producers Chamber of Commerce, MediaRun Academy, Akademia PRoto.