Minister: Italian film industry strong

Sandro Biondi vows greater government role

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VENICE -- Italian Minister of Culture Sandro Biondi declared the Italian cinema industry healthy Sunday, vowing the government would take a greater role in helping the sector grow.

Speaking during a briefing on the sidelines of the Venice Film Festival, Bondi pointed to the fact that four Italian films were in competition in Venice, combined with awards to the two Italian films in competition in Cannes and rising movie ticket sales in recent years as signs that the industry was strong. But he said the positive signs did not mean future success for the Italian film industry was guaranteed.

"There's always room for improvement," Bondi said, going on to explain that the "job of government" was to take an active role in the film sector.

The Bondi-led ministry has already been playing an active role in the sector, from the consolidation of the various industry agencies under the Cinecitta umbrella, to promising to withhold state support from controversial film projects, to changing the name and leadership of three-year-old Rome Film Festival.

But Bondi said the government's policies would expand to financing instruments such as increased tax credits for qualifying film projects – a move Bondi said would be paid for by reduced spending from the ministry.

"I have talked about this with the prime minister, the minister of finance, and the head of the Treasury, and I explained that we have to help filmmakers with this battle they face to make quality productions in a difficult marketplace," Bondi said. "They all agreed we can afford to pay for it."

Bondi did not provide details such as the value of the tax cuts or the rules for film projects that will qualify for it.