Kazakhstan Launches 30 Percent Cash Rebate

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New national film center opens to handle payments, liaise with international producers.

Kazakhstan has launched cash rebates that offer international producers savings of nearly a third of local spend when shooting in the country.

The rebate is worth 30 percent of the local budgets of film, series and other audiovisual projects that spend at least $850,000 in the oil and gas-rich Central Asian republic.

The rebate is part of a new film law, adopted in January and ratified last July, that also establishes a new state center for the support of national film, Kazakh Cinema.

Kazakh Cinema, which has offices in the capital Nursultan (formerly Astana, but renamed this year in honor of the country's former president Nursultan Nazarbayev) and Almaty, the country's main film industry location, will both support domestic cinema and work to attract foreign productions to the country. Kazakh Cinema is also tasked with distributing the cash rebates.

Headed by Gulnara Sarsenova — who produced award-winning films including Ayka, Tulpan and Mongol — the film law and rebate aims to revitalize an industry at a time when a new generation of Kazakh filmmakers are emerging. It is also designed to help promote the country's stunning range of locations.

Kazakhstan has long sought to advertise its advantages to filmmakers and strives to invite international producers, directors and film industry personalities to film events, such as the Almaty Film Festival, the second edition of which closes tonight. The festival, which focuses on co-productions, included veteran British director (Chariots of Fire) Hugh Hudson on its international jury.

Anna Katchko, a Russian producer with a long history of producing films in Kazakhstan (Harmony Lessons, Myn Bala, Mariam) who is chief adviser and head of international strategy at Kazakh Cinema, told The Hollywood Reporter that, "Kazakhstan is a thoroughly western country open to foreign cooperation and investment."

There were increasing numbers of women coming into the film industry, not only as crew but directors, too, she said, citing as an example Sharipa Urazbayeva's film Mariam, about a woman who explores her femininity after her husband disappears. The film, which was in Locarno competition this year and presented in Toronto, will also be screened in Busan and many other festivals. 

Katchko added: "Now is the time to move forward in attracting more international production here — the new center will have offices in Nursultan and in Almaty — where most of the film industry is based. Almaty is also best located for accessing the widest variety of locations."