Leading film industrybodies in Italyare threatening to pull Italian entries to the Venice, Rome and Turin film festivals if the country's new right-wing government abolishes tax credits promised in the 2008 national budget.

The threat was including in a joint statement from motion picture organisation Anica, independent producers group Api and exhibitor's body Agis.

Anica represents about 90% of Italy's producers and distributors and
is presided over by Paolo Ferrari who also heads Warner Bros Italia;
Api's president is Angelo Barbagallo, (Nanni Moretti's producer for
20 years as well as Marco Tullio Giordana's producer) while Agis
is presided over by Alberto Francesconi.

The protest follows the announcement of a proposed law -currently under discussion in the lower house of Parliament. If passed there and the Senate, the incentive package will be annulled.

The introduction of incentives was a local victory for the sector as
well as a parting gift from the outgoing centre-left government led
by Romano Prodi.

The tax breaks were awaiting final European Unionapproval this summer, but as passed in December 2007 the package promised to see
$118m (Euros 76m) injected into the local cinema industry
for 2009, and $121 (Euros 78m) for 2010.

The law was intended to benefit all of Italy's national cinema and
included not only tax credits to those investing in national films but also
support for distribution and exhibition - particularly to cinema
owners converting cinemas to digital.

Foreign producers stood to see costs reduction up to $7.8m (Euro 5m) per film ifthey worked through an executive producer who could, in turn, access the tax credit.

The press release underlines that the incentives 'had found absolute
agreement between (the) majority and the opposition in the previous
legislature Despite the most ample reassurances from (Culture)
Minister Bondi we are seeing a decisive law that rescinds the future
of our cinema.'

The statement also called for the entire industry to take the same
hard line.

'All of Italian cinema is mobilized against this devastating act. The first measure is to boycott all national festivals; no Italian film will be present in Venice, Rome, and Turin. Anica, AGIS and API invite the entire culture industry to unite in this initiative,' it read.

Shortly after the press release was issued, Italy's 'centoauturi' or
One Hundred Directors group that has become active over the past two
years and has included directors such as Bernardo Bertolucci, Paolo
Sorrentino, Gabrielle Muccino, Dario Argento, Paolo Virzi and Ferzan
Ozpetek have also expressed their solidarity.

'We won't celebrate cinema if the government does everything to sink it.'

According to news agency ANSA, the group has also declared that they won't participate in the festivals and promise to refuse 'participation in
juries, prizes and competitions.'

They also called for the resignation of the Culture Minister Sandro Bondi.
Bondi released a comment to ANSA in which he underlined his favorable
attitude to the tax credit and expressed the wish that it would be
'reintroduced' during the Senate debates.

Of the likelihood that Italians wouldn't send their films to the
upcoming Venice Festival after the stellar results from Cannes (with
Il Divo and Gomorrah), Agis president Alberto Francesconi told Screen
Daily the possibility was very real.

'It could happen unless the government provides a substitute for what
they take away in the form of other incentives - and that they don't
aim to wound the audio visual industry. This was a lightning bolt in a
calm sky,' he said.