NICOSIA, Cyprus -- A veteran Hollywood movie producer said Saturday that Cyprus' aspirations to become an international film destination hinge on whether authorities can deliver on a pledge to provide cash rebates and tax exemptions to filmmakers.
Martin Barab said that his new, $27.5 million-film "Jiu Jitsu" currently being filmed in Cyprus is "make-or-break" for the east Mediterranean island nation's nascent film industry.
"This little movie had to create the film industry in Cyprus. So they are building a film industry on our back," Barab told The Associated Press.
"Jiu Jitsu" which stars Academy Award-winning actor Nicolas Cage, Frank Grillo and Tony Jaa is the first film being made in Cyprus under the country's new financial incentives scheme that includes case rebates and tax credits of up to 35% as well as a sales tax exemption.
Cyprus launched its drive to attract filmmakers last year, adopting the moniker "Olivewood."
Barab said he expects Cypriot authorities to live up to their promise and that would pave the way to more film productions choosing Cyprus.
He warned that if Cypriot authorities don't follow through, "it would crush the business here forever."
"Jiu Jitsu" director Dimitri Logothetis praised the financial incentives scheme for helping filmmakers "make the kind of pictures that we want to make ... that are fun and entertaining."
Cage said he was drawn to the film for its combination of the action and sci-fi genres he said he has admired and grew up on.
"Yeah, I mean I'm eclectic," he told the AP. "And I like to do all kinds of movies and express myself in multiple ways so this was interesting for me."
Cage said Cyprus exuded a "good spirit" for him, a quality he says he seeks out in all locations where he films and which "informs his performance."
"I've been I felt like some good energy on the set," said Cage.
Based on the comic book of the same name that was written by Logothetis, "Jiu Jitsu" pits an ancient order of martial artists against an alien invader to save the earth.