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New film law: looking towards the future

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Rosa Maria Di Giorgi • Senator

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- Senator Rosa Maria Di Giorgi has just concluded her complex role as rapporteur on the Italian government’s film and audiovisual bill, which is now awaiting final approval by Parliament

Rosa Maria Di Giorgi • Senator

After presenting a bill for reform last year, Senator Rosa Maria Di Giorgi has just concluded her complex role as rapporteur on the Italian government’s film and audiovisual bill (available here), which is now awaiting final approval by Parliament. 

Cineuropa: The framework law reorganising the film industry, which was approved after the first reading in the Senate, will have an impact on the market, drawing on European legislation.
Rosa Maria Di Giorgi: The European Union places great importance on audiovisual works and on films in particular, recognising that these can embody the immense wealth of traditions and cultural heritage of the various Member States. It therefore recognises the cultural exception: a point of crucial importance for understanding the entire measure. The actions provided for will have a considerable impact on the market, but they should not be interpreted as state aid, which is forbidden under competition rules, but should be included in the cultural exceptions provided for by the Treaty. In the audiovisual world, alongside more well-established entities there are young companies that still have to travel the road that will hopefully lead them to success.

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The law provides for a 50% increase in funds for developing investments in film, from approximately €200 million to €400 million.
This is a truly positive result obtained by the Italian government and the Ministry of Culture. It will lead to the establishment of the Fund for developing investments: each year the level of funding will correspond to 11% of VAT revenues from the sector; when the market grows, parameters will be increased to consistently realign the resources available in the annual budget exercise. 

How will funding for films and arthouse cinemas most at risk in small towns change?
Under legislation in force, takings at the box office was the yardstick used for granting funding, a poor parameter. We need to start afresh with new definitions: for example, alongside the definitions of ‘arthouse film’ and ‘investigative and experimental film’, we introduced the definition of ‘arthouse film’, which wasn’t in the original text, to mean a ‘cinema with an overall majority percentage of its annual programme being made up of arthouse films, a percentage which varies based on the number of residents in the area and screens in operation’. Then we tried to insert parameters for guaranteeing different types of selective contributions. Access to contributions for works that have already been made will be influenced by a number of factors: from reinvestment in the sector to participation in international festivals and prizes awarded, and not only by takings at the box office. In the past, the Ministry invested €20 million a year in this type of contribution. We increased the amount, which in absolute terms is approximately €70 million and makes up 15 to 18% of the Fund. 

Tax credits, which were already offered by the State, will be extended to companies ‘outside’ the sector.
With the bill we tried to double investments, by increasing the overall amount granted in tax credits from €150 million last year to an impressive €260 million. Rates vary from 15 to 40% depending on the type and purpose. On the one hand there are direct funds, on the other those resources that the State gives up to set aside for the film industry. Tax credits will be granted to production companies, distribution companies and exhibitors, the technical and post-production industries, and for structurally and technologically adapting cinemas. Then there are two other types, both of which are essential: one for the promotion of Italian and European works in theatres and another for attracting foreign investments to Italy. The sixth and last tax credit is aimed at companies outside the film and audiovisual industry that invest their own capital in the production and distribution of film and audiovisual works.

(Translated from Italian)

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