Country Focus: Italy
Serge Lalou • Producer, Les Films d’Ici
by Camillo de Marco
- (This article has been published in Le Film Français - Supplement Italy 2016)
It’s an image symbolising the triumph of Serge Lalou’s uncompromising commitment: he’s on cloud nine, standing beside director Gianfranco Rosi and Italian producer Donatella Palermo. We’re in Berlin on 20 February 2016, Rosi has just been handed the Golden Bear for his documentary Fire at Sea [+see also:
interview: Gianfranco Rosi
On the Les Films d’Ici website we can read the words “one desire: to present politically, socially and culturally committed perspectives on the world”. This is exactly what the 2016 Berlinale jury, chaired by Meryl Streep, must have thought when they decided to award the film’s producers the festival’s most important and prestigious award. The jury, which was “overcome with compassion” when watching Fire at Sea, summarised the motivation behind their choice with the following words: “The film is urgent, visionary and necessary, perfectly balancing art and politics with a great deal of nuance”. The documentary was pieced together over the course of a year in Lampedusa, at the centre of the migratory flows to the Italian coasts.
“Gianfranco Rosi had a real challenge in front of him,” claimed Serge Lalou, who co-produced the film alongside teams from 21uno Film, Stemal Entertainment, the Instituto Luce Cinecittà and Rai Cinema, with support from MiBACT and Arte France Cinéma. “There have been several documentaries and broadcasts dedicated to the topic of immigrants. Gianfranco never looked for the easy way out, though, and looked for unique stories that, through the medium of film, took on a strong metaphorical and universal dimension. His direction transformed the subject into a tale that is both epic and intimate at the same time, onto which we can project our own imagination. That’s the mark of a great film.”
For the past 30 years, Les Films d’Ici’s team of producers has nurtured the creativity of both French and international filmmakers, whether they’re making documentaries, fictions, animations or even interactive productions through Les Films d’Ici 2. The company’s ties to Italy are growing ever stronger – for the better. Following Mario Martone’s We Believed [+see also:
interview: Mario Martone
interview: Mario Martone
film profile], Alessandro Comodin’s Summer of Giacomo [+see also:
film profile] and Enrica Viola’s Borsalino City [+see also:
film profile], Les Films d’Ici, along with Partner Media Investment’s Andrea Stucovitz, is currently producing Valerio Mieli’s second feature film: Les Filles du temps. “My associate, Laura Briand, chose the film. She’d seen Valerio’s first film, Ten Winters and could see a unique, poetic and modern talent in his second project,” Serge Lalou explained.
What is behind the young Italian cinema’s attractiveness today? “I don’t know if it’s a reaction to the Berlusconi years, but the Italian film industry has developed an artistic resistance in both documentary and fiction films. Now, with this new Film Law, it also has the tools to become a real financial partner,” Lalou explained. What of the co-production agreements? Are they facilitating or influencing production choices? “The agreements reinforce the choices and accompany a process of common development, and therefore much more collaboration.”