Ireland gov't gives film biz a budget boost

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Irish eyes were smiling Thursday after the Irish Film Board secured an 18% gain in its 2008 budget to €23.2 million ($33.7 million). In addition, the Irish government said it will renew its Section 481 tax incentive for film and TV production.

Still, the industry and the IFB plan to lobby the government for an increase in the tax-incentive levels to help the country attract more projects.

"This extremely welcome uplift in the IFB's funding will enable us to respond to pressing needs in Irish filmmaking," IFB CEO Simon Perry said. "We aim to provide more support for the sustained development of Irish stories with international reach, well-funded schemes for the production of short films to reveal new Irish talent and to invest in new production at a level that will stimulate the making of bigger-budget films with potential to compete in the world market."

But IFB chairman James Morris noted that overseas production in Ireland has "fallen to an all-time low as a result of Ireland's indirect tax incentives falling behind those of our main overseas competitors."

He added: "In this area we welcome the Minister of Finance's decision to renew Section 481 and hope that, in the coming weeks, he will consider favorably the IFB's proposed amendments to Section 481 made to (the) government as part of the recently completed Indecon review."

According to the IFB, film and TV projects financed by the organization contributed about €63 million ($92.2 million) to the Irish economy this year. Notable Irish successes worldwide include "Once," John Carney's musical drama that won the audience award in January at the Sundance Film Festival and grossed $10 million via Fox Searchlight in North America.
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