In an exclusive interview with Screen International, Steve Solot, MPA senior vice president for Latin America (pictured) has commented about the recent uproar in Mexico over MPAA head Jack Valenti's recent letter to Mexican President Vicente Fox. (screendaily.com/Feb 10 & 20).
In his missive, Valenti warned President Fox that the new $0.10 tax levied on cinema admissions since January may discourage Hollywood from investing further in local cinema. Producers, actors, directors and other members of the creative film community in Mexico responded with an open letter to Fox imploring him not to succumb to Valenti's "threats."
In Los Angeles for the annual meeting of the Latin American Home Entertainment Federation, Solot pointed out that the majors and some indie distributors have filed for injunctions against the one peso levy.
While the process normally takes as long as two years, he is confident that these appeals could be placed on the fast track and perhaps take only six months.
If the distributors win their cases, the levy would be rendered ineffectual.
"When local production is on the upsurge, the logical step is to adopt new measures to foster that trend, " he said. "This tax has the opposite effect". Solot pointed out that obliging a distributor who releases a Mexican film to give up a percentage of its earnings to a fund, seems more like a disincentive.
He added that the Mexican government never consulted the local film industry, that even its producers were taken aback by the new measure.
In his letter, Valenti is said to have offered the help of experts to assist Mexico develop new mechanisms, such as co production incentives, that would help boost local cinema. "The offer is on the table to discuss other stimuli," said Solot. "The ball's in their court now."