Italy eyes shift in film funding strategy

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ROME -- The Italian government will revamp the way it helps fund Italy's cinema industry next year, Minister of Culture Francesco Rutelli said in a statement Monday.

The statement was short on details, but in it, Rutelli indicated that the changes would be significant.

"In 2007, the government will start to reform the way it supports Italian cinema," Rutelli said. "The government must simplify its support process and make the funding something that can be relied upon. Italian cinema is returning to its former heights and the government should make sure this trend continues."

A spokesman for the ministry said in an interview that funding for cinema will not necessarily be increased, but that the process will be reorganized and streamlined to assure it had a greater impact.

Italy's proposed 2007 budget caps spending for most ministries at 2% above 2006 levels. But it will not be clear if the Ministry of Culture has had its budget limited until the budget becomes law, probably next week.

Though the exact financial value of the Italian government's support for the domestic cinema industry is not known, it is reported to have declined substantially over the last decade. The funds are used in a variety of ways, including incentives for filmmakers to shoot in specific regions.

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