Flanders targets prod'n boost

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BRUSSELS -- The Flemish government plans to double the region's feature film production by 2010 through a mix of cash injections and tax shelters.

Flemish Cultural Affairs Minister Bert Anciaux on Thursday said that the Flanders Audiovisual Fund will receive an immediate €2.5 million ($3.4 million) cash boost in addition to its annual €12.5 million ($16.9 million) grant. He also promised to raise the aid even further next year.

However, Anciaux said that the main engine driving Flemish filmmaking will come from local tax incentives. The tax breaks will allow foreigners to access the plan through co-productions with local producers, who tap companies fiscally registered in Belgium.

Flanders currently produces 6-8 features a year as a majority partner, but Anciaux wants the yearly tally pushed to 12 by 2010. Last year's local market share for Flanders films was 6.8% (compared with 4.9% in 2005), but Anciaux wants to reach 10% by 2010.

Flanders is the semi-autonomous, Dutch-speaking, northern half of Belgium. The regional government retains authority over key sectors, including culture. Last year, the Flemish government announced an annual €100 million ($134.9 million) risk capital fund for the audiovisual sector, new media and other cultural sectors.
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