With regard to future policymaking, Ministry of Culture officials discussed on Oct. 9 the revision of the Motion Picture Act with film professionals, experts and scholars. Minister Lung Ying-tai said that the Act, which emphasizes ideological control and content management, is completely outdated, and she pledged to revise it and delete those clauses that are not applicable to the present-day film industry.
In addition, the Ministry is considering a revision to the Statute for Encouraging the Development of Culture and the Arts, in order to make art and cultural consumption tax refundable. The Ministry is still seeking opinions on these proposals, and is hoping to reach a public consensus.
Taiwan’s film industry has long called for a stable funding source to support domestic film production; in response, the Ministry has proposed the establishment of a special fund to finance the production of local films, after studying similar measures taken in other countries, noted Minister Lung.
The Ministry wants to earmark funds from a proposed reinstatement of the 5% business tax formerly levied on cinemas for allocation to the special fund, as part of its effort to establish a stable mechanism to foster sustainable domestic film development.
The Act was first enacted in 1983 against a backdrop very different from present-day society and the current environment of the film industry. The Ministry is now proposing to update the Act by deleting clauses that embody ideological bias and censorship such as “(Films should not) violate national policies,” according to the Minister.
Despite the recent revival of Taiwan’s film industry, its domestic market share – 17.46 percent – is still much lower than the respective domestic film industry market shares of Japan (54.96 percent), mainland China (53.6 percent), Korea (50.31 percent) and the United Kingdom (39.42 percent), Lung noted, citing the latest available statistics.
“Generating profits” is the other focus of the revision, added the Minister. She cited several examples from other countries to illustrate the idea of a government-supported film fund. France and Britain subsidize local films through special taxes on movie tickets and lottery revenues, respectively. Taiwan must introduce more diverse sources of funding for the film industry, including fundraising, government subsidies, allocation of profits from subsidized films or a reintroduction of the former cinema business tax, due to the government’s tight budget, according to Minister Lung.
Among the other proposed measures are a box office statistic system, which should provide transparent data on film production values, and tax exemption for foreign productions being filmed in Taiwan, which is aimed at attracting international film production to Taiwan and creating opportunities for local film professionals to participate in such productions.
Local film experts made several comments concerning the Ministry’s proposal. For example, Chen Chun-jung, board director of the Taipei Film Trade Association, suggested that the Ministry follow the French policy of raising the film fund from diverse sources. Chen said that allocating revenue from a reintroduction of the business tax for cinemas to the film fund might result in higher ticket prices, which could discourage people from paying to watch a movie.
Director Wang Shau-di urged cinemas to provide an environment with a richer cultural and cinematic atmosphere in order to attract larger audiences. The Ministry will convene several coordination meetings with relevant ministries and local governments and hold public hearings before submitting its proposed revisions to the Motion Picture Act.