Italian titles and co-productions are in high demand in the rest of the world.
Italian titles and co-productions are in high demand in the rest of the world. Investors are attracted by the great funding system that Italy has to offer now.
We met Senator Lucia Borgonzoni, Undersecretary to the Italian Ministry of Culture (MiC) with responsibility for cinema and audiovisual, now at her third mandate.
She told to Cinema & Video International about the great opportunities for the film & tv industry in Italy and what to expect.
«Italian cinema – says Senator Lucia Borgonzoni – and audiovisual products, players and protagonists are very much appreciated abroad. The audience of admirers is constantly growing.»
ITALY: AN ATTRACTIVE PARTNER
The circulation of Italian films abroad doubled from 2017 to 2021 thanks to the solid co-production opportunities in the country, which created an appeal for several international players.
49% of the films produced in 2021 traveled beyond national borders (source: ANICA). Half of them were international co-productions.
Undoubtedly the market has been helped by the financing and tax incentives put in place by the Italian Ministry of Culture in compliance with the objectives of Law 220/2016, such as the Film Distribution Fund for non-national distributors of Italian works and the Fund for Minority Co-productions which have joined the tax incentives and the selective and automatic contributions already in place.
«The decision of the Italian Government – continues Borgonzoni – not to modify the percentage of tax credit for foreign productions was highly appreciated. In contrast, some adjustments will be made to the tax credits for Italian productions.»
Co-productions are favored on several fronts: selective contribution, automatic contribution, and tax credit.
To support the internationalization of Italian products in 2022, the Fund for International Exporters, the Fund for Audiovisual Producers, and the Fund for Cinema Producers were activated. These are all managed by Cinecittà on behalf of the MiC. The Film Distribution Fund was profoundly modified (see paragraph below).
The rise of global platforms and the creation of new distribution companies with multi-national catalogs have also contributed to the internationalization of Italian products. Also, in recent years we witnessed an increasing number of acquisitions of Italian production companies by big international groups.
Senator Lucia Borgonzoni consider carefully the challenges and opportunities represented by the acquisition of Italian companies by large international groups: «If the acquisition is due to financial insecurities, then yes, it would represent a problem. We are refining a system that would allow smaller Italian companies to become more structured and increasingly stable in the future.»
FUND FOR MINORITY CO-PRODUCTIONS
In 2019 the Fund for Minority Co-productions introduced by the DGCA had an annual grant budget of € 5 million. The maximum allocation per project could not exceed 60% of the Italian quota or be more than € 300,000.
€ 15.76 million was disbursed in total (the 2022 allocations are still partial). The funding per title ranged from a minimum of € 13,000 to a maximum of € 300,000: with an average funding per film of around € 129,000.
Without regard for whether the Italian participation was the majority or minority quota, the title would be recognized as Italian nationality and could, therefore, also benefit from other support.
A significant role is also played by the maximum contribution (€ 3,000) and the total budget (€6M last year), which is non-refundable aid, therefore particularly appealing for the productions.
«A significant role is also played by the maximum contribution (€ 3,000) and the total budget (€6M last year), which is non-refundable aid, therefore particularly appealing for the productions.» – says Borgonzoni.
FILM DISTRIBUTION FUND
The Film Distribution Fund supports the export of Italian movies through financing to local foreign distributors.
The first 2023 open call increased the financing from € 1,200,000 to € 2,100,000. Moreover, the maximum contribution has been increased which, for theatrical distribution, has now reached a maximum of € 50,000 (compared to € 30,000) and € 15,000 for internet distribution.
The Film Distribution Fund is a specific fund set up by the MiC (Ministry of Culture) in 2018 in order to support the sale of films outside Italy to foreign local independent distributors, offering them support to acquire the exploitation rights for the territory in which they operate.
The first two new features are that the support has been extended to exploitation on digital platforms and that the distributor can apply, at the same time, for the same film, for a contribution to the transfer of both the theatrical rights and the internet rights.
«The fund has proven to be a successful tool, – declares Borgonzoni – and the presence of Italian films in foreign movie theatres benefited from it. Given the results, the funding has been increased (from €1,2M to €2,1M per year). As well as the maximum allowable contribution. Also, it has been expanded from theatrical to include platforms and online distribution. The purpose is to increase the distribution of Italian audiovisual products abroad.»
The best of Italian Cinema abroad
The show was created in the fall of 2022, organized by Cinecittà for the DGCA of the MiC and the MAECI (Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation) in collaboration with the Accademia del Cinema Italiano David di Donatello Awards.
Italian Screens was launched in India in October 2022 and held concomitantly in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Calcutta. After leaving India, it went on to Miami, Atlanta, and Los Angeles, followed by San Paolo, Berlin, and Bangkok. After Tirana last March, and Johannesburg and Cape Town from May 5 to 13, the next rendezvous are: Guadalajara (June 3-9), Paris (July 8-13), Bogotà (July 14-16) Essaouira (October 4-8) Chicago (October 11-23), Berlin and Frankfurt (November 8-12).
The films are selected according to the year’s nominations for the David di Donatello Award, and also with the involvement of local professionals thanks to the Cinecittà network.
«The support provided to the activities promoting Italian cinema abroad is ongoing and varied: festivals, markets, conferences, large events, and initiatives such as Italian Screens. There is a need to create a network of all these initiatives and build a more coordinated system to strengthen Italy’s image» – explains Borgonzoni.
«This network – explains Roberto Stabile, Head of Special Projects at the DGCA of the MIC at Cinecittà – allows us to promote Italian cinema in several different territories. This activity is rolled out in synergy with the diplomatic representative offices. We can count on high quality and fresh content thanks to the collaboration with the David di Donatello, and the involvment of professionals from the Cinecittà network.»
After her latest mission to the US, Senator Lucia Borgonzoni reflects on the impact Italian cinema has on the American industry players: «Leading producers from the US are interested in stories about our Country. The Fund for Minority Co-productions is only one of the many ways to encourage international co-productions. We have supported 10 products that saw different types of participation of US companies through the tax credits for national production in the past three years. And we are currently examining additional requests. Italy is a unique shooting location. Indeed, the Americans are excited about filming in Italy. There is a comprehensive offering: from landscapes to art cities, passing through the beautiful hamlets scattered throughout the Peninsula. We want to present to the international producers a clear and detailed overview of the offering of the different territories.»
«Except for some modifications – concludes Borgonzoni – that we are making to ensure that the interventions keep up with an industry in constant evolution, the measures which have worked until now will be maintained. At the same time, we will modify the ones that have proven to create distortions in the market or did not yield the desired results.»
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