Catalonia, TVC launch $11 mil film fund

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BARCELONA, Spain -- The government of Spain's Catalonia region is joining forces with publicly funded broadcaster TVC to create a 7.4 million euro ($11.1 million) film fund.

The aim of the fund is to increase budgets on Catalan features and boost the amount of local culture included in films.

Four Catalan-language features will receive up to $1.5 million each -- one of the largest public cash payments in Spain. A total of $603,000 also could be awarded for screenplay development and up to $4.5 million for TV animation.

The new fund, to start at the end of March, is part of a major shake-up of public funding for the Catalan film industry. The reforms will be presented as a new film law later this year.

Catalan elements will be encouraged by a points system, based on above-the-line talent, cultural contribution, shooting location and postproduction.

In terms of public support for the film industry, Catalonia is among the most generous regional governments in Europe. The Catalan Institute of Cultural Industries, which will operate the new fund with TVC, already boasts a $25 million budget for 2008 for production, while TVC has separately earmarked $30 million for fiction production.

Though public aid is generous, Catalan producers struggle to obtain market share. Seventy-five features were produced last year. Of these, 12 were Catalan-language films, which were only watched by 0.8% of the region's 24 million cinemagoers.

"If only two Catalan films are made next year and we put $15.2 million into each, it will have been worth it if they are both successes," ICIC director Antoni Llado Goma-Camps said. "The point is to increase quality and attract viewers."
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