Film production in Belarus comprises activity by the relevant state structures and private creative activity which is mainly dependent on those structures. The Ministry of Culture is the main funding body and the chief commissioner of film production intended for the domestic market. It is also the main partner in local production and in co-production as well as the coordinator of all official activity in support of the promotion of Belarusian cinema abroad. Its monopolist role means that the Ministry controls both film production and distribution following an adapted centralized and ideologically adjusted Soviet model. In addition to responsibility for the technical standards of state cinema and video production, the Ministry’s function is also to exert ideological control and apply political censorship when necessary.
Until 2012 state support of the national film industry in Belarus meant only exclusive funding of Belarusfilm state-owned production company. Thus, private filmmakers had to cooperate with the state film company to get support from the government. Starting from 2012 an annual open competition for production of “national films and films commissioned for social or creative purposes” has been established. It includes such categories as feature films, short films, debut films, documentaries, animation, children’s films and films for young people.
Selection is made by an anonymous committee of officials and experts (i.e. the membership of the committee is not announced publicly) and the criteria by which the committee is chosen are not transparent. The applications for funding mainly come from state producers and on average up to 40% of the projects receive support.
Starting from 2013 only „national‟ films (the definition of „national‟ is based on the personal decision of the President of Belarus), debut films, children’s films, animation and documentaries may apply for 100% state funding. Other projects may be supported by up to 70 % of the production budget. State support for film production is provided in the form of a public subsidy, with no recoupment required.
In 2016 the Ministry of Culture supported nine projects. The sum of state subsidies totaled €1,87 million. Seven of the nine winning projects are produced by Belarusfilm which got approximately €1,16 million from the government.