Country Focus: Italy
Paolo Del Brocco • Managing Director, RAI Cinema
by Camillo de Marco
- (This article has been published in Le Film Français - Supplement Italy 2016)
RAI Cinema’s collaborations with France have had great results, with the Berlinale-winning Fire at Sea [+see also:
interview: Gianfranco Rosi
film profile] as well as Roberto Minervini’s The Other Side [+see also:
interview: Roberto Minervini
film profile], Claudio Cupellini’s Alaska [+see also:
film profile], or even Stefano Savona’s soon to be released Samouni Road.
At Berlin, Fire at Sea asserted itself at a level not seen before, with critics, audiences and the jury all agreeing. It’s proof that the best of what Italian cinema has to offer can reach international audiences. It proved this even in the earliest stages of development, when it was able to attract high quality French partners – internationally known as leaders in the film industry. I am talking about names like Serge Lalou, the producer, and Daniela Elstner, who sold the film internationally for her company Doc & Films, both of whom put a great deal of effort and care into the project. There were a lot of sales, and Fire at Sea a film from a small island in the middle of the Mediterranean gained exceptional visibility.
The Other Side, which is also the fruit of a co-production with France, in this case with Agat, is also part of Doc & Film’s line-up, as is Stefano Savona’s Samouni Road. This didn’t just happen by chance; Doc & Film is the ideal partner for this kind of film. While Minervini has been based in the US for the past few years, Savona works out of Paris. In this globalised world and thanks to new technology, Italians can be found wherever you can find movies, and France is the most suitable location for these ex-pats. These professionals’ displacement proves a simple idea: a film, if it is truly a great film, unites passionate professionals and viewers, people who all have the same homeland – the United Kingdom of Quality Cinema.
This phenomenon, which is being spurred on by some of the big names in Italian cinema involves more and more young directors.
The relationship we have with the French cinema industry is very strong. It’s really pleasing to be able to say that co-productions are no longer just for committed arthouse films or regulars on the Croissette like Nanni Moretti or Marco Bellocchio, but also filmmakers who are virtual unknowns in the French market, like Roberto Andò, or even the growing numbers of young directors. If you look at the numbers, you’ll find that just a little under half of co-productions currently underway are first or second films.
There is a clear tendency of “scouting” in France, with the nation’s co-producers increasingly targeting some of the Italian film industry’s best.
We need to remind our French “cousins”, those who invented cinema, that nothing has ever deterred them from defending it, and that they have always shown an insatiable curiosity in the face of what is new, the future, and the still undiscovered. Compared to Italians, the French are finely attuned to what is happening in the contemporary cinema world, as, historically, they have never lost out. This includes their much-publicised supremacy in television, the original link between the cinema and a cinema-loving audience. Their cinephilic culture, as even cinephilia originated in France, allowed them to grow and nurture a natural, almost instantaneous, ability to sniff out excellence. The fact that this ability is often met with the motivation to do something explains the almost prophetic promptness, with which the can bet on youth, on more experimental cinema, on what will exist in the future. In spite of everything, I must say that, over the past few years, we have started to make up for lost ground: the attention given to non-fiction films confirms their status alongside more classical productions closely tied to fiction. We have become more curious, and, even if we possess more limited resources, we never stop investing in what we believe to be the film industry of today and of tomorrow, by supporting our independent producers, who, in the past, would have found more attention and a consideration in France than in Italy: But the times are changing. I think that the magnitude of the current partnership between Italy and France can be justly evaluated by looking at this common attitude: the ability to visualise new things on the horizon and the will to reveal it to as many people as possible.