Overview of the Legal Framework of Cinematography in Armenia

In 2021, the Armenian Parliament adopted the Law on Cinematography. A few months ago, the law was amended to extend financial rebates for film production. In this client note, we have summarized the applicable law and the latest improvements.

Numerous Armenian filmmakers and films made in Armenia and abroad have firmly established themselves in the tapestry of cinematic history. Arguably among the most acclaimed Armenian films is “Sayat Nova”, also known as “The Color of Pomegranates”, directed by Sergei Parajanov (Paradjanov) in 1968. It is widely considered one of the greatest cinematic masterpieces of all time. Among the films directed in Armenia is the first Armenian feature movie – the silent classic “Namus” directed by the founder of Armenian cinema, Amo Bek-Nazarov (Hamo Bek-Nazarian), in 1925. It was followed by“Zareh” in 1926, “Shor i Shorshor” in 1927, “Has-Push” in 1928, and “Pepo” in 1936.

Other unquestionable gems among the films produced in Armenia that garnered global recognition include Sergei Parajanov’s notable short documentary “Hakob Hovnatanian” (1967), Mikhail Vartanov’s impactful feature documentary “Parajanov: The Last Spring” (1992), Frunze Dovlatian’s Cannes-nominated feature “Hello, It's Me” (1966), Albert Mkrtchyan’s Venice Film Festival-winning feature “Tango of Our Childhood” (1985), and several others. A scene from “Tango of Our Childhood”, directed by Albert Mkrtchyan




The matters related to the film industry, film production, and making are regulated by the law “On cinematography” (the “Law”) that was adopted in June 2021. The Law establishes, among other things, provisions regarding the film registry, film protection, and property rights related to the film, the relations related to film distribution and exhibition, and state support of the cinematography sector.


An important aspect of the Law is that it clearly forbids censorship, even in cases when the motion picture’s production is receiving government support. Moreover, the Law warrants that the government will not interfere in the creative process and shall guarantee the freedom of expression and the opportunity to create freely. 


In addition to the freedom of expression warranties, the Law establishes several crucial principles, such as: Simplified Customs Clearance - The temporary import and export of goods within the framework of film production and cinematographic events shall be carried out in simplified and accelerated procedures of customs processes without the payment of customs fees.Minimum Broadcasting Threshold - The broadcasting or showing of national/local films by a broadcaster or movie theatre cannot be less than 15 percent of the total number of monthly films shown.


Tax Breaks - Until December 31, 2030, for the purpose of determining the tax base of film exhibitors, the income received from the broadcasting and screening of a national film in a cinema, as well as the placement of advertisements during those, shall not be considered as income. 




The recent amendments to the Law have established the possibility of a rebate from 10 to 40 percent of monetary expenses incurred by film producers for goods and services directly related to film production acquired from local service providers and suppliers. The new section titled “Partial refund of investments or its refusal or termination, withdrawal, grant of joint production status and its termination, issuance of rental certificate and termination of its validity” provides the grounds for the return of investments. Additionally, the amendments established the right of foreigners arriving in Armenia to participate in film production activities without a work permit for the duration specified by the film project.




Our firm has vast experience advising foreign and local clients on various legal aspects and, among other things, cultural matters. Thus, do not hesitate to contact us for further assistance.


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NOTE: This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide legal advice. While it was fact-checked at the time of publication, we do not assume an obligation to update it.





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