The National Film Centre is a state institution of direct administration under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture, which administers the funds from the state budget intended for the Latvian cinema and film industry. Open projects competition is held annually. Funding is allocated for the development and production of feature films, documentaries and animated film projects. Separate tenders regarding different stages of project development as well as projects related to popularisation and promotion of distribution of Latvian films, international cooperation, education and training of film industry specialists are announced throughout the year. The production grant may not exceed 50% of the total budget. Low-budget projects (€113,810 for documentaries) may receive grant covering up to 90% of the production costs while “complicated films” (with Latvian language prevailing; the script is based on an original literary work of Latvia; the film is based on historic or cultural events, issues related to ecology, science, social, political or economic environment of Latvia; a distinctly artistic film, in which experimental or innovative forms of expression are used; film is intended for children or youth audiences) may apply for 80%.
The annual budget for minority co-productions support is €300,000. Applications are submitted by local co-producers. To qualify for support project must meet one of the following criteria:
- It must comply with the terms and conditions for a Latvian film (as it is defined in the Film Law);
- The planned financial investment from the Latvian side will be not less than 20% in the case of bilateral co-production and 10% in the case of a multilateral co-production;
- Project corresponds to Latvian cultural criteria.
In 2016 the total annual state support for film industry in 2016 was €6,770,387 (including funding from State Culture Capital Foundation). The National Film Centre supported Latvian film industry with €5,862,587.
The National Film Centre also manages the incentive established in 2013 and aimed at involving foreign investments in the local film industry– Latvian Co-financing Fund which provides cash rebate up to 25% of the total production costs on the territory of Latvia. The total production budget of the project must meet the minimum amounts (for documentaries – €142,287, for full-length features or animations – €711,436). Eligible expenses: film-related transport, location and technical equipment rentals, catering, accommodation, public facilities, construction facilities, artistic and administrative services, etc. The exact amount of expenses is determined and any payments are made only after implementation of the film project. The rebate may reach 25% of the eligible costs in case the storyline of the film takes place in Latvia or the landscape or architecture of Latvia is used with identifying references about Latvia included. If identifying references about Latvia are not included the cashback may not exceed 20%.
Co-financing may be combined with public funding of another kind, if the total public financing for the project does not exceed 25% from the eligible costs. Another source of public funding in Latvia is Riga Film Fund which offers a cash rebate of up to 25% of local production costs (in case the storyline is set in Riga or portrays Riga in the story (at least 20% screen time), and at least partly filmed on the territory of Riga). Note that applications may be submitted by the producers representing EU countries while the total budget of the project must be no less than €700,000. The fund also offers a rebate of up to 20% for productions which are filmed outside Riga, but using services of Riga-based companies. In 2016 the Riga Film Fund approved four co-financing agreements for a total amount up to €574,000.
Latvia has joined Eurimage in 2001. Local filmmakers are also eligible to apply for Creative Europe MEDIA Sub-programme funding.