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The Romanian film community deeply concerned about the fate of the local cash rebate scheme


- Despite many promises, the Romanian government does not seem willing to re-activate the scheme

The Romanian film community deeply concerned about the fate of the local cash rebate scheme

Although national cash rebate schemes from countries such as Malta, Greece, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Croatia have been proven to infuse new life in the local film industries, these good examples do not seem to be enough for the Romanian government: after a year of promises, the local cash rebate scheme is still not working.

On paper, Romania has a 35% cash rebate scheme administered by the Ministry of Economy, but the programme is not actually working and most of the foreign productions that have been shot in Romania since its inception are still waiting for their rebate. On several occasions, representatives of the Ministry have stated in the Romanian press that the institution has other priorities, for example the aid for the local hospitality industry, which has been deeply affected by the pandemic.

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Alex Trăilă, CEO of the Romanian Alliance of Film Producers, tells Cineuropa: “Since late 2019, we are facing quite a rollercoaster in what concerns the cash rebate programme. Of course, the COVID-19 situation significantly complicated the government’s priorities. However, now there is no clear horizon, despite continuous dialogue. We are still looking into solutions and discussing with authorities to understand how the programme can resume, both in terms of pending payments and a new call for applications. There are big productions of renowned directors with amazing casts now looking into Romania, yet the government is not making any moves.”

Vlad Păunescu, the head of Castel Film Studios, Romania’s biggest full-service studio, tells Cineuropa: “I am revolted and shocked that the international production companies willing to spend millions in our country will not be able to so, as our decision makers have blocked the cash rebate scheme without any valid reason. (...) It is incredibly frustrating, even offensive, for us Romanians that movies set in Romania or productions partly spoken in Romanian are actually shot in other countries only because those countries have a functioning cash rebate scheme. I feel powerless in answering the many questions I receive from executives of big American studios, such as Universal, Sony and MGM, who are preparing blockbusters that could be produced in Romania, but do not find in our country’s legislation any fiscal advantage to convince them to shoot here and not somewhere else.”

Beyond the uncertainty regarding the future of the scheme, there are issues with how the scheme works (or doesn’t work, actually). In a social media post, Romanian producer Tudor Reu, who has produced through Mobra Films several shows for the local branch of HBO, complains about the absurd application requirements he had to observe as he made a submission at the end of April. “27 ring binders (pictured) with more than 500 pages for a TV miniseries with circa 70 shooting days. (...) Circa 14,500 pages, (...) each of them stamped and signed (...) And then everything scanned and saved on a memory stick for each member of the Film Commission.” All this without any guarantee that the miniseries could actually be shot in Romania through the cash rebate scheme...

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