France

Tax breaks make Paris attractive for big-budget directors

Carla Bruni attending Cannes film festival in 1994
Carla Bruni attending Cannes film festival in 1994 Georges Biard

Paris is increasingly attracting big-budget filmmakers lured by a combination of location and handsome tax breaks. In the past, directors complained that France was too expensive with the likes of Quentin Tarantino opting to shoot a film about wartime France in Germany. But the recent financial incentive has given the creative industry a new lease of life. 

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Industry officials are saying that the 20 per cent tax rebate is one of the main reasons that directors are now choosing Paris over other European cities.

The rebate was introduced last year and can provide a rebate of a maximum 5.2 million euros. It is similar to a scheme already in place in neighbouring Britain.

"The tax rebate has fully achieved its goal," said Franck Priot of Film France, a state-financed body that seeks to attract international film projects.

That goal is to "generate economic activity and enable foreign filmmakers to film France in France and no longer simulate it elsewhere", he said, without directly referring to Tarantino's 2009 war film Inglourious basterds.

Last year, the only major American movie to be shot in Paris was Inception, whose English director Christopher Nolan filmed in the French capital for just a week in the summer.

But this summer alone, three major US projects are planned. Allen began shooting his latest work last week, with French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy taking her first major film role in a movie set in the 1920s.

Other big-budget directors to shoot in Paris include Martin Scorsese with The invention of Hugo Cabret about a boy who secretly lives in the walls of a 1930s Paris train station and Madonna who will shoot W.E., about Britain's king Edward VIII and the American divorcee for whom he abdicated in 1936.

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