This article explores which trade-related policies are effective – that is both economically and culturally sound – to promote the film industry that has recently been highlighted more due to its prominent political, economic and cultural dimensions. By examining the trade-related policies of nine major countries for their film industries over the last forty years, several important findings are extracted which contribute towards a more pragmatic debate on ‘trade and culture’. First, regulatory barriers such as import or screen quotas should be avoided at all costs since they do not protect the domestic film industry. Second, tax relief schemes are unreliable because they tend to offer excessive support to attract foreign film producers. Third, as a choice to be considered, subsidies should be kept reasonable in size and focus on consistent goals. Fourth, well-designed trade agreements can contribute greatly to enhance film policies. Finally, once combined, these results explain to a large extent the remarkable success of the Korean film industry over the last two decades, which can be a good bench marker for countries that want to enhance their film industry and to promote their culture.