Veltroni unveils gov’t plan for pix

Measures include funding boost

VENICE — Deputy premier Walter Veltroni unveiled Wednesday a series of state financing measures for homegrown films as well as for arthouse theaters.

The move coincided with the publication of an open letter from around 60 Italian film directors, producers and actors calling for more dynamic government intervention to support the national film industry.

Many of the measures already have been put into practice while others are awaiting final approval. Veltroni said the provisions will not be financed by taxpayers, but instead have been facilitated by redistribution of existing funds.

Fiscal measures

The measures include greater subsidies for film production loans, an increase in seed funding of features from a maximum of $4.7 million to $7 million, and a hike in the support fund for arthouse cinemas from $1.8 million to $3.5 million.

Other measures regard short film production and funds for restructuring theaters.

The announcement of increased commitment from the government to both the production and exhibition sectors is timely given the outcry from a large group that includes directors Mario Monicelli, Carlo Lizzani and Marco Bellocchio and actors Giancarlo Giannini and Iaia Forte.

The appeal calls primarily for antitrust laws to eliminate a monopoly situation in which a small number of companies with interests in production, distribution, exhibition and television — pointing to the Cecchi Gori Group and Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset and Medusa divisions — control the entire Italian marketplace.

Veltroni has indicated that antitrust laws currently are being studied.

The deputy premier will be in Venice today for the opening of the 55th Venice Intl. Film Festival. He is expected to announce an additional government measure pertaining to the Biennale, the partially privatized arts council that controls the fest.

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