Italian film-makers, actors protest against cuts

ROME Mon Jul 20, 2009 2:31pm EDT

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ROME (Reuters) - Italian film-makers and actors protested in Rome on Monday against cuts in a state fund for the arts, with some calling for a boycott of the Venice film festival.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's cash-strapped government has slashed the FUS fund for film productions, opera houses, dance and music performances by some 130 million euros ($184.1 million) to 380 million euros this year.

Holding black balloons, hundreds of people protested against the cuts outside parliament, urging a rethink by the government.

"A country that doesn't love culture is a country that doesn't love those who make culture either," said veteran director Mario Monicelli.

Former Rome mayor Walter Veltroni, a leader of the center-left opposition, said the arts industry employed some 200,000 people in Italy. "If it shuts down, it is as if Fiat shut down," he said.

Some in the industry have threatened to boycott the Venice film festival, which this year runs from September 2-12, though there is no consensus on taking such a drastic step.

(Reporting by Antonio Denti, editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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