Actor-Congressman Alfred Vargas Files Bills to Boost Film Industry

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ACTOR-CONGRESSMAN Alfred Vargas of Quezon City and wife Yasmine Espiritu.

QUEZON CITY (PHLTODAYUSA) — An actor who is now a lawmaker is exerting efforts to further boost the film industry.
Already a supporter of the Quezon City film festival, Rep. Alfred D. Vargas III of the fifth district of   Quezon City has filed in the House of Representatives a bill seeking to expand support to the local film industry by supporting the production of Philippine independent films through grants and incentives to filmmakers who are given honors in notable international film competitions.
Vargas, 33, who is running for reelection, said the measure is embodied in House Bill No. 6187 which lawmakers have started to evaluate.

Vargas served as councilor of Quezon City, dubbed the City of Stars, for three years before running for congressman in the newly created district. An AB Management Economics graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University, he pursued his Master in Public Administration from the University of the Philippines.
Vargas also authored House Bill No. 1144 which promotes the local arts and entertainment industry by providing corporate tax breaks and exempting venue operators from payment of amusement tax when showing locally produced films and music events featuring Filipino artists.
House Bill No. 1144 is still pending with the House Committee on Ways and Means.
In filing House Bill 1144, Vargas noted that the local film industry has been declining over the years with only about 20 films produced each year that are of good quality that could be showcased internationally.
The actor-lawmaker also filed House Bill No. 2892 which seeks to eliminate the matching of Filipino men and women through mail order and other similar practices for purposes of marriage or common law partnership.

House Bill No. 6187, which is pending before the Lower House Committee on Public Information, seeks to motivate Filipino producers and directors to make quality independent films by providing grants and full tax exemption to award-winning alternative or indie movies.
Independent films or alternative cinemas are defined as those made without the capitalization, machinery and influence found in major films studios.
This form of filmmaking, which includes short films, documentaries, experimental or avant-garde films, and the like are usually outside the confines of commercial moviemaking, Vargas said.
Vargas said in the Philippines, alternative cinema production is on the rise with 84 percent of locally made movies every year consisting of indie films.
“However, challenges remain. One particular obstacle is the lack of funds for marketing. As such, most indie films rarely become box office hits,” Vargas stressed.
Under the measure to be known as the “Philippine Independent Film Incentives Act of 2015,” Philippine independent films which wins  the Best Film prize or its equivalent including those that merited recognition for technical excellence in respected international film competitions of cinema festivals shall be granted P5,000,000 for the film production or entity that produces the award including full-length feature or documentary film.
A grant of P3,000,000 shall be given to the film production or entity that produces the award-wining short feature or documentary film.
Also, a full tax exemption relevant to the screening of the film and its commercial-exhibition, including those levied by local-government film shall be granted.
The award-winning film shall be considered and shall have the honor of being given an automatic rating of an “A” film being granted by the Cinema Evaluation Board.
To be eligible for a grant under the full-length category, films must be made by Filipino filmmakers who have not yet directed more than three full-length commercial feature films.
The total production budget for the full-length feature or documentary film should not exceed P3,000,000 and the film length should be between 90 to 120 minutes.
On the other hand, short-feature or documentary film must be made by a Filipino filmmaker and the total production budget should not exceed P1,000,000. The film length shall not be more than 20-minutes (no minimum length).
The bill directs the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCAA) to adopt a system in implementing and carrying out the provisions of this Act.
A special fund is created amounting to P50,000,000 that shall be sourced from the funds of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
“To further empower the Philippine movie industry, the passage of this proposed legislation is earnestly sought,” Vargas pointed out.
In pushing for the passage of the bill, Vargas cited the policy of the State to promote and support the development and growth of the local film industry, in general, and the production of independent films, in particular.
Vargas said the State should endeavor to discover, encourage and honor the cinematic works of Filipino filmmakers that boldly articulate and freely interpret the Filipino experience with fresh insight and artistic integrity.

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