Georgian regional coin aims to woo filmmakers

It's the country's first film fund

BATUMI, GEORGIA — Georgia’s Black Sea coast area of Adjara has launched a regional film fund as the country’s national film center continues to lobby for tax incentives to encourage movie making in the former Soviet territory.

Adjara, a semi-autonomous region that borders Turkey, is offering a 20% cash rebate on qualifying local spend.

The fund, the first of its kind in the country, is considered a pilot project with 100,000 Lari ($60,000) available now.

It’s a crucial testing ground for popular and political opinion on the value of such initiatves, Salome Sepashvili, deputy head of the Georgian National Film Center told Variety.

“The fund is open to international productions but producers need a local partner to apply for the rebates,” she said.

The fund covers food and accommodation as well as local crew hire and technical equipment in the region, which boasts an unspoiled coast line, mountains and ancient archaeological sites.

Backed by the Adjara ministry of education, culture and sport, producers are required to name the region in their film credits.

The initiative comes as the GNFC, set up in 2001, continues to lobby for a tax incentive scheme for the country.

“We’d like to see rebates of 20%-25% although that is probably a few years away right now,” Sepashvili said.

Feature production in Georgia, which in Soviet times averaged 20-25 films a year, is now around five films.

GNFC funding has tripled in the last five years to over $2 million; this year two co-productions shared nearly $300,000 in grant funding and three local productions $550,000.

Upcoming productions slated to shoot include U.K.-Georgia-Russia feature “Epic,” directed by Ben Hopkins and produced by Mike Downey.

The 7th Batumi Art-house Film Festival, which wrapped Sunday, is planning to increase its industry activities with a work-in-progress section.

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