Mexican director alerts S. Korea to aftermath of screen quota cut

2006/03/22 18:24 KST 

SEOUL, March 22 (Yonhap) — A prize-winning Mexican filmmaker urged South Korea not to make "the same mistake Mexico made," saying a free trade pact with the United States had led to a rapid decline in her country’s film industry.

"As a result, the film industry in Mexico, which once produced an average 100 films per year, dropped to a record low of just four films in 1995," Maria Novaro said in a recent letter to Hwang Cheol-min, an independent South Korean director.

Mexico scrapped its rule requiring local theaters to show domestic movies on half of their screens when it signed the North American Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. and Canada, which took effect in 1994.

In a similar action, South Korea plans to halve its quota of screening days for domestic movies. The policy scheduled to take force from on July 1, will only require Korean theaters to show local movies for 73 days a year instead of the current 146 days. The reduction was in response to a demand made by the U.S. as a key condition to the starting of free trade talks.

Novaro, whose "Danzon" was shown in the Directors’ Fortnight at the l991 Cannes Festival and won the Independent Spirit Award, gave her own testimony. Her 1994 movie, "The Garden of Eden," failed to be shown on any more than two screens in Mexico, while her previous movie had found over 250 screens.

Her letter was released Wednesday by the Coalition for Cultural Diversity in Moving Images, a South Korean organization of movie workers aimed at retaining the screening quota for domestic movies.

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