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“European partners are a creative and market opportunity”

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Marta Donzelli • Producer

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- Interview with Marta Donzelli, from Vivo Film, following the selection of her project Daughter of Mine for the 14th Berlinale Co-Production Market

Marta Donzelli • Producer

There’s one Italian project among the 36 co-productions that have been chosen for the 14th Berlinale Co-Production Market, which will take place as part of the Berlin Film Festival from 12 to 15 February. The project in question is Daughter of Mine by Laura Bispuri, the only Italian to compete at the Berlinale in 2015 with her debut piece Sworn Virgin [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
Q&A: Laura Bispuri
film profile
]
(which was awarded at a number of festivals). For the project Daughter of Mine, Vivo Film, owned by Gregorio Paonessa and Marta Donzelli, has obtained slate funding from Creative Europe. The film will be a reflection on motherhood: the story of a young girl in search of her identity, and that of two women as they learn how to be mothers.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

Cineuropa: What stage is the project currently at?
Marta Donzelli:
We’re currently in the preliminary stages. We’ve obtained funding from the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism, and the story has received funding from the Sardinian regional authorities. We’ve not yet received confirmation, but we want to work with the same co-producers as we did on Sworn Virgin, or rather Bord Cadre Films in Switzerland and The Match Factory in Germany, which will, at any rate, handle international sales of the film. Shooting is scheduled to take place this summer, between June and September in Sardinia. Colorado, which had a stake in Sworn Virgin, is a minority partner in the development of the project, and I think it will continue its support through the production stages. 

The project Sworn Virgin passed through Cannes’ Cinefondation Atelier. Vivo Film is clearly inclined towards seeking opportunities abroad and foreign partners.
All our films are co-productions. In 2016 we had Children of the Night [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Andrea De Sica
film profile
]
by Andrea De Sica (editor’s note – the only Italian film that competed at the Turin Film Festival in 2016) and Nico, 1988, currently in the editing stages, which were both co-produced with Belgium (Tarantula). In both cases, we had the support of Eurimages’ co-production fund (editor’s note – €250,000 and €440,000 respectively). We co-produce partially out of necessity, because the types of films we produce find it difficult to secure 100% of their funding in Italy. But it’s a necessity that is also an opportunity, because it means broadening the potential market for the film right from the production stage, establishing a dialogue from a creative point of view that allows us to adopt a more international outlook, to work with technicians and artists who aren’t necessarily Italian.

The problem facing independent films is still distribution, which is often inadequate.
This really is the biggest problem. At the moment distribution and market models are changing, so the industry in Italy and other countries has adopted a prevalently cautious approach, going against the desire to invent different models. If a project appears on the map with little market potential, this risks compromising its potential for finding an audience, of being screened on an equal footing with other films. First and second works face this very real problem.

That said, there have been considerable efforts on the part of Cinecittà Luce, which has also distributed some of your films.
It’s the only institution that’s systematically supported independent film. I don’t know if they’ll be able to keep it up, as the cinema circuit situation is very complicated at the moment, and we risk starting off at a disadvantage.

The new law should bring changes, should it not?
Yes, there are considerable incentives for producers who decide to distribute their films themselves. We shall see if it works. For example we recently had a generally very virtuous experience with a British documentary we co-produced, Innocence of Memories, on Nobel prize-winner Orhan Pamuk. It was distributed in Italy by Nexo, as an “event”, or rather in lots of theatres for a set number of days. In two days it pulled in over 10,000 viewers, an admirable result when you compare it to lots of other independent films.

(Translated from Italian)

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