After four years of strategic planning and lobbying, Film France has announced the creation of a new tax rebate system aimed at foreign films shooting in the country. Adopted by the French parliament, the measure will give qualifying foreign productions a 20% rebate on their local spend with a cap of $5.7m (Euros 4m.)

Films will be eligible for the rebate providing they meet a list of criteria. Some of the criteria are yet-to-be determined, but Patrick Lamassoure, managing director of Film France - the body responsible for attracting foreign film to France as a shooting location - told Screen that films must spend a minimum of $1.4m (Euros 1m) in France and that they must shoot for at least five days.

Contrary to some other schemes within the territory, the new law does not require that a film be granted the stamp of approval from film body, the CNC. Indeed, eligible films must not have access to the CNC's funding system and thus must not have the so-called CNC 'agrement.'

However, the film must pass a cultural test meaning that France must be implicated in the proceedings. This could be, for example, a French character, French source material or the use of French technicians. A minimum of points will need to be reached in order to be eligible for the rebate.

The law comes into effect on January 1, 2009 while the remainder of the criteria will be decided in the first quarter of the year. In all likelihood, the possibility of retroactive applications will exist. A committee to be set up at the CNC will oversee the cultural test.

The 20% rebate is applicable to all spend in France including above- and below-the-line and has a cap of Euros 4mn. It is also applicable to TV productions.

The new law is good news for foreign producers who have often chosen other locales due to the belief that shooting in France is too expensive while it is also good news for France which has suffered this year from a strong Euro and the implementation of similar schemes in neighbouring countries like Germany, the UK and Hungary.

In a statement, Film France president Nicolas Traube said: 'The raison-d'être of this measure is to convince foreign producers to shoot films in France whose action has a French element but which are often shot in foreign countries - as is the case with Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds for which a large part of the script happens in France but which is being shot almost entirely in Germany.'

Lamassoure concurred, telling Screen: 'We are thrilled because now foreign producers, and especially Americans, won't have to fake France elsewhere; now they can shoot here.'