Italy eyes co-producer title

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ROME -- The Italian government is getting into the movie business, according to an announcement Monday from the Ministry of Culture, which said that the Italian state will begin taking the title of "co-producer" on certain films it helps fund.

According to the statement from Minister Francesco Rutelli, the state is likely to take the title on films to which it contributes a "significant" level of financing and when the film contains some "cultural interest."

Films funded in part by the state's co-financing programs will automatically be candidates for this status if the state's contribution to the film is not repaid within five years of the film's release.

Though the change is being billed as a way for the Italian state to protect its investments in domestic films, experts said the switch also made the government an official film producer, which could give it a say in how some films are distributed after the five-year period expires.
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