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The Italian film industry asks the government for regulations, tighter timescales, and greater resources


- For the first time ever, 23 major Italian film-audiovisual associations have come together to raise the alarm on delayed implementation of public support measures for the sector

The Italian film industry asks the government for regulations, tighter timescales, and greater resources
An image from the event

After securing a number of amendments to the Tusma regulation (Consolidated Act on audiovisual media services), including higher obligatory investment quotas for VoD platforms in independent Italian works (read our news), the Italian film industry is regaining strength, and it came together, more united than ever, in Rome’s Adriano cinema on 5 April in order to present new proposals to reboot the sector but also, and most importantly, “to halt a distorted narrative about film”.

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This full-to-bursting gathering (boasting 1,500 participants, including producers, distributors, directors, screenwriters and actors, as well as agents, editors, composers and other film professionals) was organised in order to formally ask Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano, Under Secretary Lucia Borgonzoni and the head of Italy’s Film and Audiovisual Department Nicola Borrelli to urgently consider the sector’s proposals and to press for a meeting in the very near future to implement the necessary reforms without delay.

“We’re here to talk about our situation, not to scrounge funds”, explained Lucky Red founder Andrea Occhipinti. “The system crashed due to excessive production in the post-pandemic period when demand for platform content was incredibly high. Now this demand has slowed down”, Occhipinti pointed out. “We’ve seen a downturn in the market, streamers are producing less, so lots of Italian productions have been halted, or, at best, postponed. This is also due to delays in tax credit payouts and in selective and automatic funding”, insisted producer Simonetta Amenta, who also presides over AGICI (the Italian Association of Independent Film and Audiovisual Industries). “While we wait”, she added, “foreign productions are also being re-routed to other countries”.

The film and audiovisual industry in Italy is composed of 9,000 businesses (mostly SMEs) which, in recent years, have generated 65,000 jobs directly, as well as a further 114,000 in related fields, accounting for 13 billion euros in revenue (10% of the European total). In Europe, Italy is the third biggest market for labour productivity behind Germany and France. Crucially, it’s estimated that 3.54 euros are generated for every euro invested in the film-audiovisual sector, from which the wider national economy subsequently benefits (according to the development bank Cassa Depositi e Prestiti). According to sector operatives, this explains the need to debunk the myth that tax credit is synonymous with assisted cinema, since “it’s one of the most virtuous investments the State can make”, entailing positive repercussions for tourism too.

Certainty over resources and timescales is what film professionals are asking for in relation to tax credits, in addition to regulation over the protection of intellectual property and shares in rights for independent producers. As for automatic contributions, the sector is requesting an urgent release of funds, given that they’ve been on hold for four years: the industry is still awaiting a decree approving the requests presented in early 2023 in relation to 2020 annuities, while the windows relating to 2021 and 2022 are yet to open. In terms of selective funding, professionals are asking that low-budget films be prioritised, that the commission is formed of experts, and that fund allocation deadlines are shortened, as it sometimes happens that results are announced as late as six months after these windows close.

As regards the Tusma regulation, professionals are asking, among other requests, that distribution costs aren’t included in investment quota calculations and that RAI Cinema makes investments in individual films and rights public. Last but not least, in terms of the internationalisation of the sector, industry operatives are requesting the restoration of funds for independent producers and foreign sales agents, as well as access to the Eurimages Pilot Fund and joining the European Convention on the European Co-Production of TV Series.

In this sense, the Italian film sector is opening itself up to dialogue with the government, which “listened and intervened to protect investments in independent Italian film during the recent revision of the Tusma regulation”. But Lucia Borgonzoni doesn’t seem too keen on the initiative: “In light of the dialogue we’ve been pressing on with for some time, I find the detailed claims that the industry is shutting down, made by several associations operating in the film world, genuinely shocking and damaging”. The Under-Secretary for Culture insisted that, “the action we’re taking in the sector isn’t aimed at cutting funds but at rationalising the industry in order to avoid repeating the abuses and distortions that have taken place in the past”. She remarked in conclusion that, “This year, we have earmarked 700 million euros to finance this. It’s a whole other level of funding compared to the 250 million the sector received in 2016, for example. These cries of alarm do seem somewhat out of place”.

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(Translated from Italian)

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