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New push for film tax break

Patrons at a cinema in Phnom Penh watch the trailer of a movie earlier this year
Patrons at a cinema in Phnom Penh watch the trailer of a movie earlier this year. Charlotte Pert

New push for film tax break

To create incentives for Khmer filmmakers, the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts and the Ministry of Information are putting forward a joint request for the government to reduce taxes on production and screening of local films, Cambodia’s culture minister said yesterday.

Films that are produced in the Kingdom are subjected to a 10 per cent tax, while local cinemas take a 50 per cent cut of the profit earned by every film they screen.

“Most producers complain to us about the high taxes … when it’s already hard to gain income from Khmer film production,” Culture Minister Phoeung Sakona said. “Cambodian films are progressing with difficulty compared to other Asian countries … and we hope that this plan will have a positive effect on the industry.”

Both ministries are currently determining solid figures for the proposed tax cuts. They plan to send their request in the next few months.

If the decrease is granted, Motion Picture Association of Cambodia president Nareth Ung said, it will greatly ease the financial burden on filmmakers.

“With these high taxes, sooner or later, producers would lose interest … but if they get incentives, they would be more encouraged, because they could actually make a profit,” he said.

Following taxes, filmmakers are left with less than 50 per cent of their profits, leading some of them to abandon their operations in the country, Sakona added.

Despite the financial setbacks, Cambodian cinema has made significant strides in the past two years after the country attracted international attention following the release of several films shot in Cambodia or produced by local filmmakers.

Some noteworthy films include Sok Visal’s heist comedy Gems on the Run, Cambodian-born director Rithy Panh’s Oscar-nominated documentary The Missing Picture and Regis Wargnier’s epic historical drama The Gate.

According to Sakona, the tax cuts would only continue to promote Cambodian culture and also bolster the industry’s job creation power.

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