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Italian film biz lobbies to retain subsidies

Berlusconi to make major cuts across economy

Italo cinema industry leaders have begun a hardcore lobbying campaign in an attempt to ensure film production incentives avoid the ax as ministers look for spending cuts across the country’s debt-ridden economy.

Back in July, Italy’s culture minister Sandro Bondi pledged to continue tax breaks for filmmakers — incentives that have already been credited with creating a surge in production.

However, fears of cutbacks were reignited last week when treasury minister Giulio Tremonti said that in a time of tightened belts, “People can’t eat culture.”

At a press conference on Monday, industry chiefs said it was vital that the same level of state support — €240 million ($330 million) over three years — be maintained, as they sought to keep up the pressure on the conservative government of media mogul-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Paolo Ferrari, president of the National Assn. of the Cinema Industry (Anica), told journalists: “Our businesses and representatives are united in expressing their grave concern over the uncertainty that has emerged in the past few days on whether tax credits will be renewed.”

The state-funded tax incentives have received much of the credit for the recent boom in Italo production. “The system is working very well,” said independent producer Andrea Occhipinti yesterday.

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