The entire entertainment business will stop working on November 22 as part of the wider general strike. Italy’s unions are protesting against Silvio Berlusconi’s 2011 Budget Law, which is making deep public spending cuts. The Berlusconi government has slashed Italy’s single arts fund, FUS, down to its lowest level in 20 years. This year the arts fund budget is below €300 million ($416 million) compared with €500 million 3 years ago. Cinema’s share of this year’s FUS funding is around €60 million. That’s small beer compared with what’s on offer in France and Germany. Italian artists want funding restored to 2008’s €450 million funding level. On top of that, producers are still owed €50 million from previous years’ funding rounds, which means there is hardly anything left this year. Movie theatres, film and TV sets and post-production houses will all close down for the day. Producers are also angry that Italy’s new tax breaks, both for local and international production, may not be renewed. Berlusconi’s government introduced longed-for tax breaks last year, overhauling Italy’s old subsidy system which backed lots of films nobody went to see. But the government has included the new tax breaks on a list of possible recession cutbacks.
The opening night of the International Rome Film Festival was disrupted last month as Italy’s film industry protested over government cuts. Over 1,000 incensed actors, directors, producers and other film professionals invaded the red carpet at Rome’s Auditorium Parco Della Musica. Riccardo Tozzi, president of Italian producers’ association Anica who also runs Universal’s Italian outpost Cattleya, says he expects a decision on what’s going to happen with film tax breaks by the end of this month.