The Italian government approves the new Film Law
by Camillo De Marco
- “The government is updating its approach to film and increasing funding by 60%”, said the minister Franceschini. For ANICA “it’s a real law for the film industry”
“A reform the industry’s been awaiting for years; funding and rules to support Italian film and give theatres a new lease of life”. It was with this words, published on Twitter, that the Minister for Cultural Heritage and Activities, Dario Franceschini, expressed his joy at the approval by the Council of Ministers last night of the bill innovating the rules and regulations and substantially increasing funding for the Film industry.
The bill is based on the model provided by French legislation. “The government is updating its approach to Italian film and increasing funding by 60%”, Franceschini explained after an afternoon in which the Minister and the Prime Minister Matteo Renzi met with four Oscar-winning filmmakers: Bernardo Bertolucci, Paolo Sorrentino, Giuseppe Tornatore and Roberto Benigni. The bill will allow the government to set up a “consolidated fund, 12% of which will be supplied by revenue from IRES (corporation tax) and VAT paid by those who use content: TV operators, telephone providers and film distributors, and will not drop below €400 million per year. The bill provides for the creation of a completely autonomous fund for supporting the film and audiovisual industry, and automatic funding tools with strong incentives for young writers and those who invest in new cinemas and protecting historic cinemas, theatres and bookshops".
The greatest appreciation was shown by companies operating in the audiovisual sector united under the associations ANICA (the Italian National Association of Film, Audiovisual and Multimedia Industries), APT (the Italian Association of Television Producers), ANEC (the Italian National Association of Exhibitors) and ANEM (the Italian National Association of Multiplex Merchants). “After more than 25 years we finally have a proposal for a real law for the film industry, which seems the most advanced in Europe today”, stated the press release issued this morning.
Below is a summary of the salient points of the bill:
Creation of the Consolidated Film and Audiovisual Fund
A “Fund for the development of investments in film and audiovisual works” will be set up to support investments in films and audiovisual works through tax incentives and automatic contributions to add to the current funding provided by the FUS and tax credits.
150 million more in funds and for the virtuous mechanism of self-funding
Funds will be directly supplied, according to the French model, by pre-existing tax revenue received from the scheduling and broadcasting of television programmes, the distribution of films, the screening of films, and the provision of services for accessing the Internet by telephone and telecommunications companies. Therefore, as of 2017, a fixed percentage (12%) of IRES and VAT revenue from these sectors will be used to fund the Film and audiovisual industry. No new tax will be introduced, but a virtuous “self-funding” mechanism for the production sector will be introduced to encourage investment and innovation, and remove the current annual uncertainty over funding for film: the new fund will never be allowed to fall below €400 million per year.
Automation of funding and reinvestment in the sector
The new Film Law will abolish ministerial committees that grant funding on the basis of a film’s so-called ‘cultural interest’, and will introduce a system of automatic incentives for Italian works. The amount of funding granted will be decided using objective parameters that take economic, artistic and distribution deliverables into account: from awards to success in theatres. Producers and film and audiovisual distributors will receive funding for new productions.
Tangible aid for “promising filmmakers”
Up to 15% of the new Film Fund will be set aside every year to support first and second works, young writers, start-ups and small theatres. Funding will also be bolstered for festivals and high-quality events, and a national plan for the digitalisation of film and audiovisual heritage will be drawn up.
Strengthening of the six film tax credits currently available
The new Film Law provides for the strengthening of tax credits. The six existing tax credits will be reinforced to incentivise the production and distribution of films and audiovisual works and attract foreign investments to the film and audiovisual sector.
Incentives of up to 30% for those who invest in film and audiovisual works
The following persons can benefit from the six tax credits available: production, distribution and post-production companies, distributors that distribute Italian films, thereby incentivising competition and increasing Italian film’s share of the market, Italian companies that work on foreign productions, companies outside the sector that invest in Italian film, and exhibitors that manage cinemas. Tax credits will increase to up to 40% for independent producers who distribute a film themselves.
Audiovisual works supported with €5 million under the Guarantee Fund for SMEs
By decree of the Mise and Mibact, a new special section of the Guarantee Fund for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises will be created, aimed at guaranteeing funding for audiovisual works. Initial funds for the section will total €5 million, drawn from the Fund for the development of investments in film and audiovisual works.
Incentives and reductions for those who invest in new cinemas. Up to €100 million in three years.
The plan to strengthen support for film and audiovisual works will be accompanied by support for those who restructure and invest in new cinemas. The number of screens will thereby increase along with the quality of cinemas, drawing in a lot more viewers, above all, to see Italian films. For this, an extraordinary plan provides for up to €100 million in three years to re-open closed cinemas and launch new ones.
Reductions for historic cinemas
The label of ‘being of cultural interest’ will trigger tax breaks, this also being applicable to cinemas, theatres and bookshops. This will make it possible to determine the status of a building by its use in the interests of preserving and appreciating historic cinemas.
Creation of the Higher Council for film and audiovisual works
The Film Section of the Performing Arts Board will be replaced by the Higher Council for film and audiovisual works, which will draw up policies for the sector, with particular emphasis on establishing criteria for investments in support of film and audiovisual works. The Council will be made up of 10 members who are highly skilled and have broad experience in the sector and representatives of the main industry associations.
More effective procedures for scheduling films on TV and investments in television
The government has been empowered to adopt one or more legislative decrees for introducing more transparent and effective procedures when it comes to obligations for the investment in and scheduling of European and national audiovisual works by audiovisual media service providers.
The end of “state censorship”
There will be no more ministerial committees to assess films. The Film Law empowers the government to establish a new system of classification that holds producers and distributors responsible for their films. As is already the case in other sectors and fundamentally in all Western countries, it will be these very producers and distributors that define and classify their films; the State will intervene and issue sanctions only in cases of infringement.
(Translated from Italian)