Italy to Partially Reinstate Production Tax Credit

Industry groups are still not satisfied, threatening a series of protests and walkouts at the upcoming Venice Film Festival.

ROME -- The Italian government has promised to reinstate as much as half of the cinema tax credit budget that it had earlier this month said it would stop financing. However, cinema industry groups remain unsatisfied and are calling for a full reinstatement.

Italian Minister of Culture Massimo Bray said late this week that €45 million ($58.5 million) of the credit would be made available after the end of this year. All or part of the second half could then be made available based on the way the first half is used, according to media reports, though the ministry did not mention that aspect or provide any further explanations.

The credit, which was originally scheduled to run through 2014, helps offset cinema and television production costs to the tune of up to €5 million ($6.6 million) for Italian productions and up to €3.5 million ($4.6 million) for co-productions if they are shot in Italy.

But the three dozen industry groups that protested the original cuts said they are still calling for a complete reinstatement of the €90 million ($117 million) annual credit immediately, setting up a possible clash down the road.

The groups -- which include audiovisual association ANICA, the cinema exhibitors' association ANEC, the entertainment industry association AGIS, the 100autori writers’ association, plus various regional film boards and several trade unions -- used the Nastri d’Argento (Silver Ribbons) film awards and the press conference for the Venice Film Festival’s autonomous Venice Days section to call attention to their plight. But Thursday’s much-heralded threat to “block” the announcement of Venice’s full lineup was downgraded to a written statement inserted inside around 350 media press kits. The downgrade was in part because of the progress made in negotiations in recent days.

But the groups said that if the full credit is not reinstated for 2014 and beyond they would conduct protests during the Aug. 28-Sept. 7 Venice Film Festival, including street demonstrations and massive walkouts from screenings that government ministers attend. Italian newspapers said that more than 20 protests were scheduled to take place during the Venice fest.

Four years ago, the tax credit was under similar threat and many of the same organizations threatened action. In the end, the credit was reinstated in full.

Twitter: @EricJLyman