Fri, Jun 04, 2004 - Page 20 News List

The government bails out local film industry

By Yu Sen-lun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwanese films like Love of May are being supported by both businesses and the government in an attempt to turn the local film industry around.


Premier Yu Shyi-kun announced last week the government will provide NT$100 million per film, as a part of a package of policy reform measures to stimulate the ailing film industry.

Beside grants for film production, there is also an amendment on tax incentives for film investment; government loans totalling NT$20 billion to the cultural-content and digital-content industry; and a change of direction for funding priorities.

Films with foreign investment, or co-produced projects, films using digital technologies, and film directors or producers with remarkable box office track records will be given priority.

After an embarrassing time for Taiwan cinema at Cannes last month, with no Taiwanese film selected for any of the screening sections, compounded by the fact that South Korea and Thailand won awards, it is about time the government gave the film industry a shot in the arm.

"The government will make big efforts to develop the film industry. In the future, films winning awards at major film festivals will receive a grant of up to NT$100 million," Yu said last Wednesday after attending the screening of local documentary Viva Tonal (跳舞時代).

Major film festivals, according to Yu, mean the Oscars, Cannes and the Berlin Film Festival. He said the NT$100 million would not be a cash award, but a grant to fund the filmmaker's next film project.

Yu said the government had taken note of the success of other Asian film industries and had decided to act now.

"The film business plays an important role in the cultural industry as a whole. Related culture businesses [TV, games, publishing] will be affected if the film industry sinks," he said.

The government will also encourage investment in films. Yu said that at the beginning of the year, an amendment to the Motion Picture Law (電影法) passed in the legislature, which gives enterprises investing in a local film a tax break of up to 20 percent of the actual expenditure.

Film Note

Written and directed by: Majid Majidi

Starring: Hossein Abedini (Latif), Zahra Bahrami (Baran) and Mohammad Reza Naji (Memar)

Running time: 94 minutes

Taiwan Release: Today

Additional information: In Farsi and Dari, with English subtitles

In March, the Industrial Development Bureau under the Ministry of Economic Affairs (經濟部, MOEA) announced it would offer NT$20 billion in loans to the culture and digital content industries, which covers film, animation, games, software and telecommunication businesses.

In addition, the Motion Pictures Department of the Government Information Office (新聞局, GIO), also in March, agreed that foreign-invested or co-produced projects will be given priority for government subsidies.

"With all these measures, we want to make sure that the money enters the pool of the local film industry," said Peggy Chou (周蓓姬), director of the Motion Pictures Department.

So far, at least one local enterprise has shown interest in helping the local film industry. Telecommunication group BenQ invested over NT$1 million in the NT$35 million budget film Love of May (五月之戀), which is to be released in July. Beginning last year, BenQ also started sponsoring several local TV dramas.

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