A constellation of prominent filmmakers, festival directors and film executives from all over the world have signed a petition to protest the Colombian government’s tax reform plan, which would adversely affect current film incentives, in place since 2003.
Signees includes Cannes Festival head Thierry Fremaux and Critics’ Week’s Charles Tesson; Venice’s Alberto Barbera; Pyramide Films’ Eric Lagesse and filmmakers from as far afield as Iraq (Abbas Fahdel), Thailand (Apichatpong Weerasethakul) and Europe, led by Luc Dardenne, Laurent Cantet and Romania’s Bianca Oana.
“The tax reform project presented on April 15 by the government of Colombia threatens the organization of the Colombian model for the support and development of its audiovisual sector,” the petition read. “Outside of Colombia, film professionals who have been witnesses, and sometimes actors, of the dynamism of Colombian cinema express their great concern,” it added.
The petition called on the government and the Congress of the Republic of Colombia to reconsider the film funding aspects of its tax reform project and guarantee the existence of a model that has demonstrated “tangible and successful achievements since the 2003 law,” the petition continued.
“The support of the Colombian state will be indispensable to allow Colombian cinema to emerge from the crisis hitting the world of culture,” it added.
Colombia’s film incentives, which has served as a model and source of envy across Latin America’s film industry, are now at grave risk as the Colombian government seeks to plug a multi-billion-dollar hole in its budget, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The tax reform law would scrap a fiscal incentive that has encouraged a slew of companies and individuals to invest in Colombian cinema.
This consists of a deduction of 165% of the value invested or donated to a Colombian film at the time one files an income statement. So, if a person invests one million Colombian pesos ($275.40) in a local film, they can deduct around 1,650,000 million pesos ($454.22) from their income statement.
“The system that allows [films] to flourish and that was built with patience, consultation, adaptability, and a continuity of political will, must be protected and strengthened. As film professionals, but above all as cinephiles, we are extremely concerned that the current pandemic justifies a return to the past,” the petition added.
It is feared that some tweaks to the film law that has encouraged international location shoots will also be impacted.
These incentives have attracted some 40 film and TV movie projects in the past four years, including pics starring A-list actors Tom Cruise, Will Smith and Oscar-winning Spanish actors Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem.