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Italo biz gets government boost

Culture minster unveils new programs

Italian Culture Minister Lorenzo Ornaghi and a high-powered Italo delegation came to Cannes on Tuesday to launch a new government effort to promote Italian cinema internationally and also to reassure the Italian film industry that Italy’s government has its concerns on its agenda.

The country’s Culture and Foreign ministries, and also the Italian Trade Commission and Italy’s Tourism Authority, will now be working together on a major promotional push for Italo pics in foreign film markets, one aspect of which will involve providing cash incentives to foreign distributors that release Italian films theatrically.

North America will figure prominently in the effort, since 2013 will be the year of Italian Culture in the U.S., a series of programs sponsored by the Italian government.

“This inititive stems from two basic considerations,” said Riccardo Tozzi, president of Italy’s motion picture association, ANICA,

“the presence of our movies on international screens is way below what it should be, and we are also not attracting enough international productions in Italy.”

Tozzi said that Italy’s movies, despite being considered among the best in the world and unspooling at major festivals, don’t get proper distribution outside national confines because existing Italo promotional entities are underfunded and obsolete.

As for luring foreign shoots, he said that “we have great tax credits (25% of budget with a $6.5 million cap) and regional funds, but the message hasn’t gotten out yet.”

One message Ornaghi sent out at the presser is that the tax breaks are secure; they will not be cut, nor will overall arts funding in Italy.

On the domestic front, Tozzi lamented that Italy’s two main broadcasters, pubcaster RAI and Mediaset, have drastically cut their investments in film production, which is bound to lead to bleak times.

Nicola Borrelli, head of Italy’s film department, said new regs are being drafted that force broadcasters to invest at least 10% of their turnover in film, in line with EU regs, which are currently being circumvented.

Ornaghi also pledged to fight film piracy, another major plague in Italy, and to seek ways to tap into more production funding from European Union programs.

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