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Minister Dario Franceschini is in Cannes for the opening of the festival. On this occasion, he met the press at the Italian Pavilion, the Luce Cinecittà space in the halls of the Hotel Majestic, set up in collaboration with Anica and the contribution of Direzione Generale Cinema, Ministry of Economic Development and Ice. Roberto Cicutto, President and Managing Director of Luce Cinecittà, introduced the conference to an audience including many industry professionals. To name but a few: Francesco Rutelli (President of Anica), Andrea Occhipinti (President of Anica distributors), Piera Detassis (President of the Fondazione Cinema per Roma), Gaetano Blandini (General Director of Siae), Paolo Del Brocco (Managing Director of Rai Cinema) and Giorgio Gosetti (General Delegate of Venice Days).

Franceschini commented on the Italian films at the festival, which he defines of great quality and interest: “Italy is full of talents to be introduced to the world; the six films in the festival programme are the proof of this.” Among the topics tackled by the Minister, the implementing decrees that are about to be finalised. “We have a law that has been anticipated for decades. This increases the resources with a minimum availability of 400 million Euro per year. It also introduces innovative rules and imports a model which is similar to the French one. The fund is financed by the 11% of the tax revenues collected from the players using cinema as a content. We wish to promote the commercial industry, but art-house cinema too. Accordingly, a 15-18% share of the fund is going to finance selective grants for young filmmakers, the so-called difficult films, first and second features.

"The first six implementing decrees have now being finalised and before the summer break the whole process is expected to be completed. The decrees approved so far are those concerning the Audiovisual Council, the new cinema and audiovisual fund, the criteria for the nationality of the films. Three other decrees have been sent to the Ministries in charge (tax credit), and other five decrees – including the rules for automatic, selective and promotional grants – will be perfected by the end of the next week, when a committee of five experts will be appointed. To sum up, by the end of May, 14 decrees are expected to be issued, while other six will be adopted by mid-June. Legislative decrees are expected in July.” Among the missing decrees, the one concerning the audiovisual teaching in the schools.

Franceschini underlined that “this was shared effort, implemented with the help of all the professional categories, sometime with full satisfaction, sometimes not. This should be seen as part of broader choices made for the Country: the cinema law was first promoted by the former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and then continued by his successor Paolo Gentiloni. The Parliament largely agreed on these choices, because cinema is considered a key sector.”

As for the reorganisation of Cinecittà, the Minister stated that “the new law approved by the Parliament allows the condition for a positive turn, calling into question the relationship with the private owners of Cinecittà Studios. In other words, this possibly means a return to public ownership with the involvement of Rai.” The aim is the “construction of a citadel of cinema and audiovisual activities, one that could become the driving force for a new season of Italian cinema, and that would be able to attract foreign investments thanks to the tax credit.

Answering the questions from the audience, the Minister confirmed that “funds for the restoration of the theatres” are planned, “with the possibility of derogation in respect of planning rules for the theatres of the main cities.” He further added that after the initiative of discounted tickets every second Wednesday of the month, they will also “promote and offer incentives for those who release films during the summer.”

Franceschini also encouraged the industry to “think in terms of a European cinema. We cannot face the internet giants singularly because, as single countries, we are all too small. On the contrary, as a continent, we are the biggest producer and consumer of audiovisual contents.” Although seen as an overall negative fact, Brexit too can set a positive mechanism in motion. “The exit of the United Kingdom, a country which is linked to the Anglo-saxon system and culture, can boost a renewed unitary impetus to the rest of Europe, especially as far as culture and audiovisual activities are concerned.” Franceschini is also looking forward to the appointment of the new French Minister of Culture. “I collaborated very well with the past three Ministers, so I think I’ll walk down the same trail this time too”.

As for the controversy between Cannes and Netflix, the Minister reaffirms that “we must defend cinema in the theatres, but we shouldn’t have defensive strategies only. Regarding cultural exceptions too, we’ve been on the defensive, without planning a counter-attack.”

To conclude, by extending the scope of his speech and referring to the Migrarti Award, Franceschini observed how “all the fears characterising our age comes from the non-knowledge of the other. Multiculturalism is a valorisation of identity: we shouldn’t build up walls, but bridges instead.”

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CANNES 2017

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