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SA hopes to draw film studios with $40 million incentives

July 01, 2004

Colin Farrell
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa will offer about US$40 million in tax incentives to local and foreign film companies over the next three years to promote the country as a prime filming location, the trade minister said Wednesday.

"This will secure South Africa's place as a major place of investment, like Spain, New Zealand, Canada, the U.K. and India," Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa told a news conference.

Film production costs in South Africa are up to 40 percent lower than the United States and 20 percent lower than in Australia, the minister said.

Major films produced in South Africa include The Gods Must be Crazy, Cry, the Beloved Country, The Piano Player and Sarafina.

Salma Hayek and Colin Farrell are currently in the country filming Ask the Dust.

"The film industry is one of the most powerful vehicles we have to bridge the gap, to build stronger ties," said Jeannette Ndhlovu, South African newly appointed consul-general to Los Angeles.

The worldwide entertainment and media industry is expected to grow from US$1.1 to US$1.4 trillion by 2006 from trillion in 2001, according to Mxolisi Matshamba, the acting CEO of Trade and Investment South Africa. South Africa's entertainment industry is currently valued at US$1.2 billion.

Productions with budgets exceeding 25 million rand (US$4 million) will qualify for tax rebates under the incentive program.

Feature films, documentaries, television movies and drama series will be eligible for tax rebates – reality series and pornography will not, Matshamba said.

A panel comprising officials from the Finance Ministry and the government's National Film and Video Foundation will decide who receives the tax breaks.

"We have talent and opportunities waiting to be tapped," Mpahlwa said. "And we are blessed with breathtaking landscapes and a myriad of talent."

The minister said South Africa had many unique stories to tell.

"They may arise from an unfortunate history, but they are interesting stories found in the most remote corners of the country." – Sapa-AP

Related links stories
Out In Africa Film Festival - Proteus




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