Italy Reinstates $118 Million Cinema Tax Credit Amid Protest Threats

Film industry groups threatened to disrupt the upcoming Venice Film Festival if the annual credit, removed for budgetary reasons, was not renewed.

ROME – The Italian government renewed its cinema tax credit through 2015, ending a contentious battle started by cinema industry groups that threatened to disrupt parts of the upcoming Venice Film Festival.

The tax credit is a €90 million ($118 million) fund used to help offset cinema and television production costs: up to €5 million ($6.6 million) for all-Italian productions and up to €3.5 million for Italian co-productions shot in Italy.

The credit was defunded in early July in a round of government belt-tightening. But after protests at the Nastri d’Argento (Silver Ribbons) film awards and several announcements tied to the Venice Film Festival, Minister of Culture Massimo Bray announced in late July that half of the fund would be reinstated.

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But around three dozen industry groups -- including 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 -- continued to call for a full reinstatement of the fund, threatening to carry their protests to the Venice Lido, where the world’s oldest film festival is set to get underway Aug. 28.

In one small change to the credit, music projects will now be able to tap into the resources. And the ministry stopped short of funding the initiative in perpetuity as the industry groups called for. But it appears the planned Venice protests will now be called off.

The developments mirror a similar case from 2009, the last time the tax credit was under threat. Industry groups threatened a series of protests that year, as well, but the credit was eventually reinstated, though in that case it was for four years compared to two years this time around.

Twitter: @EricJLyman