International shoots eligible for 15% rebate

Panama has passed a film law, eight years in the making, which aims to boost a moribund local production scene and attract foreign location shoots.

International shoots will be eligible for a 15% cash rebate, “which is not as high as Puerto Rico’s 40%, but Panama is less expensive,” said Pituka Ortega Heilbron, co-director of the first Intl. Film Festivel of Panama, which wrapped a week-long run on Wednesday.

Local pics will benefit from a $3 million film fund, a 10% screen quota for local and Iberoamerican pics and a tax incentive for private investors.

With a revitalized film commission led by producer Arianne Benedetti, Panama is already attracting attention.

Jonathan Jakubowicz’ “Hands of Stone,” starring Robert De Niro and Gael Garcia Bernal, will partly shoot in Panama.

Producer Raffaella de Laurentiis (“The Forbidden Kingdom”), who bought a unit at the new Panama Trump Tower, plans to make pics there as does Scottish actor-scribe Angus Macfadyen (“Braveheart,” “We Bought a Zoo”), a longtime resident of the country.

Panama offers currency parity with the dollar, low wages, diverse locations and smooth banking/cash flow transactions. This due to the presence of most international banks, attracted by the Panama Canal, which demands cash advances of up to $500,000 from ships using the canal.

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