Associating with Asian films is interesting for us

Updated: Mar 31 2007, 06:39am hrs
Stefano Turi is the director-general of the Finanziaria Laziale di Sviluppo (Filas), a financial development agency operating in Lazio , Italys entertainment capital. Almost 80% of the countrys domestic film and TV productions are made in Lazio, which comprises of Rome and its adjoining areas in central Italy. These areas are known for their rich cinematographic heritage, so it is not without reason that the entertainment industry has grown there. At the recently-concluded Frames convention in Mumbai, Filas signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with FICCI. Turi took time out to speak to Viveat Susan Pinto of the Financial Express on the contours of Indo-Italian collaboration in entertainment, a passion for people in both countries.

Could you spell out the MoU between Filas and FICCI

The whole idea behind the agreement is to facilitate an exchange and cooperation between the audiovisual indus- tries in India and Italy. The way the agreement would work is that we would provide tax subsidy and finance options to filmmakers in our quarter, while filmmakers in India would have to avail of similar schemes in their quarter. This is how they will derive benefit, by working with each other.

Its not just a co-production treaty that Filas has signed with FICCI. It covers other areas as well including research & development in digital technology, music, publishing etc. Cinema, of course, has been given special attention in this agreement.

Pre and post-production activities are included in the agreement. We are thinking of collaborating with institutions to put in place mechanisms to help film producers and allied media professionals. What we are looking at is the entire value chain from research to innovation right down to the commercial aspects.

This is the general framework of the agreement we have signed with FICCI. We will subsequently set up a joint committee. Filas will nominate people in Italy, while FICCI will do the same in India. Their responsibility will be to oversee activities specified under the MoU. By the end of the year, we hope to see some concrete results.

How many films do you think will benefit from this agreement

Its very difficult to estimate how many films could benefit from this exercise. Our audiovisual industry comprises a number of small & medium enterprises that need to strike alliances and have co-productions in place in order to grow. Nevertheless, if we could start with four to five films, it would be nice.

Do you have similar agreements with other countries

Yes, we do. At the end of November 2006, we signed an agreement with Singapore. We are negotiating with Hong Kong at the moment. Let me tell you that Italy, and the Lazio region, in particular, is very interested in Asian countries, which is why we are talking to people here. One reason is the vibrant film industry that exists in these countries. That makes it interesting for us to associate with them.

What are the challenges dogging the entertainment industry in Lazio

Most of the productions coming out of Lazio are targeted at the domestic market. There is a need for international productions to come out of the region. If that happens, it would be good.

What is the contribution of the media & entertainment industry to the regions economy

The share of this sector in the regions economy is about 7-8%. It may not seem huge, but its significant to the region anyways. There are allied contributors too besides media & entertainment such as tourism, for instance.

At Filas, our objective is to push those sectors that permit innovation and media & entertainment, part of the broader information & communication technology segment, is part of this. The other innovative sectors we are focusing on is aerospace technology and bioscience.

Will the participation of Italy in subsequent editions of Frames be enhanced

Our participation this year was not incidental at all. The memorandum of understanding with FICCI indicates that both Frames and the Rome Film Festival, which will be held in October this year, are platforms for interaction and exchange. The Italian delegation was almost 150-strong this year. Of this, 64 members were from Lazio alone. It is likely that this figure will go up in subsequent editions.