Italian hybrid to fund 30-40 films per year

ROME — In a typically Italian hybrid of political and market forces, state-owned film entity Cinecitta Holding is launching the country’s first private film equity fund.

Cinefund 1 will be used for domestic pics. The goal is to raise E60 million ($76.4 million) from local and international investors. Cinecitta Holding and several state banks have pledged $19 million.

The coin will be spread fairly evenly between 30-40 films a year to minimize risk, according to Cinecitta Holding managing director Ubaldo Livolsi.

“We were all waiting for tax breaks, but our economy does not allow them right now. So we had to find an innovative solution,” Livolsi said.

A former CEO of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Fininvest empire, Livolsi heads Milan merchant bank Livolsi & Partners.

He is in talks with several foreign investors, but declined to disclose more details pending the fund’s approval by Italy’s central bank.

Cinecitta Holding general director Alessandro Usai described the fund as an attempt to compensate for cuts in subsidies for the arts, being weighed in Parliament.

“At the same time, we hope it will make the Italian industry more competitive on the market,” Usai said.

Less than 20% of Italo pics released in 2003 grossed $1.2 million, which is considered the dividing line between a winner and a flop. Cinefund’s board is to be appointed by Cinecitta Holding by year’s end, when more details will be revealed.

Cinecitta Holding is the holding company of Rome’s partly privatized Cinecitta Studios and of state production/distribution outfit Istituto Luce. It also acts as an industry service and promotional body.

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