Mexico, H’w’d film reps meet on piracy

Incentives for production, distribution discussed

MEXICO CITY — Decades of animosity melted away at a historic first meeting of reps from the Mexican film industry and their Hollywood counterparts.

The meeting came after MPAA president Jack Valenti’s July visit to Mexico, where he met Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo and discussed sticky problems such as piracy as well as newer issues such as pay TV regulations.

A broad band of reps from the Mexican film industry, including former screen idol Maria Rojo, now a congresswoman and prexy of the chamber’s culture commission, attended last week’s meeting, which produced commitments from each side to look further at issues including:

  • Incentives for production in Mexico and co-production with Hollywood;

  • Improved distribution and exhibition of Mexican films, particularly in the U.S.; and

  • Cooperation to resolve copyright problems for Mexican pics screened in the States.

The Mexicans also agreed to look again at the vexing issue of taxes levied on American prints and videocassettes.

Levy on video copies

Under an amendment to the 1992 Cinematographic Law that went into effect last January, a levy of 1 peso (10¢) is charged on each of the first 9,000 copies of any U.S. video and 5¢ for all cassettes thereafter.

The law, aimed at raising money to be distributed directly among Mexican producers, also requires payment of $15 on each celluloid print.

At the meeting, the Mexicans accepted the MPAA’s position that it was willing to help local filmmakers but preferred a more collaborative alternative to the levy.

Steve Solot, veep of the MPAA’s Latin American branch, said, “Despite the tension between the two groups regarding recently passed film laws, the meeting was carried out in a very positive way.”

Assn. of Independent Mexican Producers VP Ernesto Rimoch added, “I think what happened took away a lot of the animosity stretching back over years. Right now, we are all very keen to start working together.”