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Legislation - Italy

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- In Venice, Giuliano Urbani illustrates the reforms to Itay's film industry, with France & the UK as role models

Legislation - Italy

Giuliano Urbani, the Italian Minister for Culture, spoke today about his government’s plans to reform film industry legislation. Mr Urbani, who was speaking at a conference at the Venice Film Festival, said that the two main points were the creation of tax breaks for the industry, based on those in force in the United Kingdom, and the introduction of a reference system for assigning public money which was based on the French model.
”The British experience has been a positive one, both in terms of attracting new capital, and in guaranteeing a return on investments, and we intend doing something on similar lines,” said the Minister. The only uncertainty is how long it will take to implement these changes, which Mr Urbani must first discuss with his colleague at the Finance Ministry, Giulio Tremonti. “I don’t know whether we’ll manage to introduce tax breaks in the next budget, but we know exactly what are goals are.”

The reference system for assigning grants will see Italy adopting the positive aspects of the French model and leaving out the negative ones. The Minister said it was part of a more wide-ranging plan that will guarantee a more efficient use of public resources by identifying the producers who, by virtue of their experience, have a better chance of ensuring a quality film is made that is also likely to perform well at the box office. The Italian government wants to restrict the discretional aspects of the current grants system by introducing a series of automatic failsafe mechanisms. It also intends giving producers a greater degree of personal responsibility by getting them to invest larger amounts of their own money (at present, they can contribute less than half the cost) in the financial project. The Minister was at pains to point out that the cultural qualities of the projects will not be harmed by this reform. “Rewarding only the films that do well from just a commercial point of view is not part of this government’s DNA,” said Mr Urbani.

The novelties also include one that Mr Urbani called “A screenwriting scholarship”, whereby filmmakers will be able to access public money on their own and will be allowed to circulate their work “without knocking on every door”.
Although the government intends passing these reforms as soon as possible, and to that end will begin work on a series of decrees over the next few months, Mr Urbani said that that did not mean the State was about to cut investments in the film industry. “Funds will not be cut by even so much as a cent,” underlined the Minister, adding that “more money has to come from the market. 1000 billion is available from the financial world. What we have to do is ensure that the financial and film worlds get together.”

The minister would also like to encourage more co-production between European countries in order to reap a twofold benefit that consists in attracting investments from abroad whilst widening the available market for Italian films and giving them a high international profile. Mr Urbani added that there remained a lot of work to do on the Italian public too. “About 25 percent of Italy’s potential filmgoers dislikes Italian films and we need to create a strong advertising campaign to promote the national product.” The minister added that this would also entail closer collaboration and more involvement with schools and television so that children start learning about cinema at an early age. Mr Urbani said that the government would shortly also be focusing its attention on technological innovation, including the digital sector, an area that currently has to small a degree of involvement by industry and university research establishments.

(Translated from Italian)

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