Italo film prod’n stymied by gov’t bureaucracy

Italian films are not going into production. The industry, producers assert, is bloccato–blocked–by bureaucratic bungling.

For the last six months, the state committee that hands out loans has not met. The reason is because the Ministry of Labor tried to give the committee seat designated for the longstanding filmmakers’ association, Anac, to another union, Unupadec. Until the question of which group gets to rep Italian movie-makers is settled, the committee can’t get together–and the country’s producers can’t produce.

Late last week, however, the impasse seemed to be nearing an end. Under pressure from the producers association Anica and the Ministry of Entertainment, Labor was poised to recognize Anac as the legitimate organization. (Even so, it could take a month before the Committee on Film Credit can convene again.)

The last time the committee chose projects to subsidize — through the so-called “Article 28” law — was at the end of 1991. Most films so designated are shot on a shoestring, and the loans needn’t be repaid if the pix don’t make money.

The state handed out more than $ 10 million for 44 films made in 1992, under Article 28 provisions.

Also blocked are low-interest (5%) repayable loans earmarked for regular “commercial” film production. Without this money, producers are forced to pay exorbitant interest rates, now hovering around 26%, on bank loans–a fact that makes new film starts scarce.

In 1992, 120 films–44 of them first films by new directors–benefited from such loans. This is out of a total of 127 Italian films produced.

Although the number of films produced last year was only two less than in 1991, overall budgets were down a huge $ 55 million.

Adding to the woes of producers are major cutbacks in film production at pubcaster RAI-TV and Silvio Berlusconi’s Fininvest networks. Without television backing, few producers are intrepid enough to put a film before the cameras.

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