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Croatia lures foreign films with tax rebates

It's latest country in central Europe to offer perks

Croatia is setting up its stall at Cannes to promote its new tax rebate — worth 20% of in-country spend for film and television projects shooting in the Adriatic coastline country.

The rebate, bowing in December, will be open to projects spending between €300,00 ($443,000) and $4.4 million.

“We offer excellence for very moderate prices,” said Hrvoje Hribar, head of the Croatian Audiovisual Center, which is hosting a series of Cannes events to get the word out.

“Our vision is to create a boutique destination for quality film and television productions. We believe Croatia is a missing link in the chain of European film industries. Let’s put it back on the map.”

Designed to support the local industry and infrastructure, Croatia is home to enough studios to accommodate two-to-three full-scale films at one time. The project’s backers hope to lure productions back to a country that in the 1970s and 80s was a key European location.

The local industry is acutely aware of recent pics it’s lost to rivals, such as “Casino Royal,” which scouted in Croatia but went to the Czech Republic, which last June introduced its own 20% rebate. Ralph Fiennes “Coriolanus” shot in neighboring Serbia and HBO’s “Game of Thrones” ended up in Northern Ireland.

One project already commited to Croatia — even without the rebate — is Peter Greenaway’s “Goltzius and the Pelican Company,” the second in his series based around Dutch old masters paintings. The first was “Nightwatching,” which was in competish in Venice in 2007.

The Netherlands, Croatia, France and U.K. co-production is supported by Eurimages and also has funding from the Croatian Audiovisual Center.

Greenaway, who is working with Croat producer Igor Nola of Mainframe Prods., will spend four weeks shooting in Croatia where 16th century sets will be built.

With English-speaking crews, co-production treaties that ease cross-border issues, and a rich range of landscapes and historic locations, the Croats hope to get the start Prague had in the 1990s.