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Panama Boasts Big Prod’n Boost

Country's tax incentives help lure foreign shoots while aiding local projects

A year after approving a production incentives law, Panama is seeing the benefits in a boost for local productions and co-productions.

“With the exception of 2007 (when “Quantum of Solace” shot in the country), from 2000 to 2012, Panama’s average investment in foreign shoots was $2 million to $3 million every year. The figure climbed to $23 million in 2013,” said Panama film commissioner Arianne Benedetti.

Private investors are also readying a new studio complex in the first half of 2014. Add Panama to the list of smaller emerging markets in Latin America now seeing a movie production build.

Foreign productions benefit from a 15% rebate on local spend. The country also makes it easy to shoot with a foreign crew by facilitating the paperwork for foreign employers as well as applying a tax exemption on any material and equipments entering the country.

As for local productions or co-productions, Panama-based companies can benefit from a 25% tax rebate that has made film financing very attractive for broadcasters.

Panama productions can also apply for  grants from the country’s $3 million Fondocine film fund. Six grant winners can apply for tax-breaks as can the six runners-up. The winners are selected by an international jury. Candidates can be international co-productions if directed by a Panamanian.

Fondocine doles out grants of up to $1 million to three feature films each year, as well as three documentaries that can tap up to $100,00 per pic.

This year’s selected feature films are Enrique Castro’s “Sultan,” which received $700,000; and Ricardo Aguilar’s “Salsipuedes” and Aldo Valderrama’s “La ultima sonrisa,” with $555,000 each.

And there’s life beyond Fondocine too: “Gauguin y el Canal,” produced by Luis Pacheco (Carlos Cesar Arvelaez’s “The Colors of the Mountain”) and directed by Frank Spano, is set for a 2015 shoot with Carlos Bardem.

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