Country Focus: Italy
Italian cinema looking for new paths (part 2)
by Gabriele Barcaro
- A response to discussions on the costs of art house cinema, which many feel are too high, came from Mario Gianani, who with director Saverio Costanzo founded Offside and today, besides producing his partner’s films (such as the highly anticipated The Solitude of Prime Numbers), also produces film by other young directors and established greats (like Marco Bellocchio’s Vincere [+see also:
interview: Cannes 2009 Marco Bellocchio
interview: Filippo Timi - actor
film profile]) “We’re too expensive with respect to whom?” asked Gianani. “Perhaps China, but we’re a civilised country, which besides cost of living expenses also calculates in benefits and many other expenditures. Yet we certainly notice when we work abroad that shooting costs are higher in France and Germany”.
As for accusations (fanned in recent months above all by the right-wing press, although the populist polemics have also been taken up by the left) of Italy having a welfare film industry that only seeks state subsidies, said Francesca Cima: “Regretfully, producers are not seen as businesspeople. We continue to be seen as spenders of public money, and not as ‘multipliers’. It is also regretful that we have been unable to sway public opinion as to the link between the rebirth of Italian cinema and the success of new producers, who have begun working in ways different from the past”.
Occhipinti also spoke explicitly of a problem of “bad communication,” calling unprofessional those who, in bad faith and “with partial information, damage an industry whose labour force and economic weight are often underestimated”.
So what are the problems of the Italian film system today? Cima stresses distribution costs, which “today determines approximately one third of a film’s overall budget.” Gianani has few doubts: “We’d like to have more than two distributors, who don’t control the entire sector”, referring to Mediaset/Medusa Film and RAI Cinema/01 Distribution. Moreover, he adds: “We have no access to our market data. Even though it’s public money, we have no idea how much RAI TV pays to buy a film from RAI Cinema”.
Television is thus often seen as the culprit. “There are no longer films airing in the primetime slots that introduce young viewers to diverse types of cinema,” complains Occhipinti, who sees an investment resource in the “fight against paying the licence fee”. Which flanks the politics that, noted Mario Sesti, director of the Extra sidebar of the Rome Film Festival, “in the mid-1970s noticed that the small screen was the propaganda tool. Subsequently, the executives made a clear-cut choice to abandon cinema”.