Incentives for production extended to June

The cash-strapped Italian government approved the country’s tax incentives for film production for another six months Wednesday, giving local industry some relief but leaving producers concerned about the future beyond that.

After the incentives were frozen in the fall, there were heated protests. Industryites invaded the Rome Film Festival red carpet and went on strike to protest both the freeze and the prospect of draconian cuts to the national film fund.

The six-month window is seen as insufficient for the industry.

“For the tax credit and tax shelter to really be effective, they need to be extended and financed for a three-year period,” said Paolo Protti, head of Agis, Italy’s main entertainment trade org.

The fund did not escape the ax: Silvio Berlusconi’s government slashed it by 40%, leaving it with €258 million ($337 million), a fraction of the figure invested by France and Germany.

Introduced in 2009, the 20% production incentives for local movies and 25% for international films have been a key industry driver at a time when the local film industry is on a roll, with a string of homegrown hits.

Sony’s “The Tourist” was among the first international pics to tap into the incentives, capped at $7 million. These are now back in place for foreign productions that wrap their Italian shoots before June 30.

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