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“More space for independent film, let’s get young people into theatres”

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Marina Marzotto • President, AGCPI

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- The AGPCI will hold the MICI, the International Meeting for Independent Cinema, in Matera from 15-19 March. We have met up with Marina Marzotto, the new head of the association

Marina Marzotto  • President, AGCPI

Since September 2016, Marina Marzotto has been the new president of the AGPCI, the Italian Association of Young Independent Film Producers, which was set up eight years ago. The Association will hold the sixth edition of the MICI, the International Meeting for Independent Cinema, in Matera from 15 to 19 March, with a programme rich in events open to the public, industry events and discussions and a market dedicated to independent production. The market will feature the Pitch2Script International sessions, during which storylines and screenplays for films and TV series of international interest will be presented, the Pitch2Domestic and Pitch2International sessions, in search of international co-producers and sellers, and the Pitch2Finance sessions, which will take the form of meetings with private financers. Among the discussions being held this year, worth mentioning is the conference on the European arthouse film business model, and those centering around international promotional strategies. 

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Cineuropa: How will this year’s edition of the MICI unfold?
Marina Marzotto: On the one hand we have an independent film market, which is the little brother of the International Audiovisual Market in Rome: we provide assistance to start-ups, filmmakers and writers. We also have more established production and distribution companies looking for projects, funding, international co-producers and international sellers. Whilst I’m on the subject of our industry events, I should point out that the meeting takes place at the beginning of spring, a key moment for summer programming, which is gaining in importance. In Matera there will be discussions on independent film and the summer programming exercise, which is strategic because we want to break down the bias against the summer months, which exists throughout the Italian film industry. The big multinationals established in Italy, Warner and Universal, have strong summer programmes which drive the sector during those months and keep cinemas open. So flanking American blockbusters with a different offering, with arthouse films, is definitely a big opportunity for getting these films seen during a challenging season. Not everyone who stays in the city necessarily watches only The Avengers for example. The figures from Cinetel show that some small European independent films have pulled in large numbers of viewers during the summer months. We have to all start working on the same page, because it’s in everyone’s interest to improve. 

Will independent distribution be facilitated by the new film law?
The new law places great focus on the concept of self-distribution, which has a clear advantage for both the producer and the exhibitor that screens the film. There should also be subsidies awarded on the basis of box office takings. The implementing decrees haven’t even been drafted yet, the Directorate General for Cinema has held round tables where we’ve received updates, but the law has still not come into effect. 

Will this also be discussed in Matera?
We will have dedicated meetings, at various stages. On the one hand we will discuss the film circuit, because, for example, the new film law also provides for new theatres to be opened in towns with fewer than 15,000 inhabitants, so theatres with just one screen, those that experience the most problems and make up around 30% of Italian theatres in total. All these tools being given to us by the film law are useful because they will help us to improve the lot of this 30% share of the market, which will, however, have to stand on its own two feet. So we will reflect on image education programmes that draw young people into theatres, which are fundamental because image education is important in theatres, we have to get these kids re-discovering the immersive experience of being at the cinema, which is very different from watching a film on a tablet. 

This very week the Higher Council for Film was set up. Do you feel represented?
The president of the Council, Stefano Rulli, who also has a lot of experience working with young people, guarantees that we are represented. We are rather puzzled as to why some of the other council members have been appointed however, as they represent mainstream cinema. They didn’t give a lot of thought to independent film, and neither did the David di Donatello awards this year: we go out into the world and win awards, and at home we have festivals that represent one kind of film, with the institutions representing another. 

Indeed, you’ve just issued a rather controversial press release on the nominees for the “Italian Oscars”.
It was a reflection: we invest in these David di Donatello awards of ours, so let’s make them useful to the industry. It’s undeniable that Sky Italia reformulated and re-launched them with an innovative and entertaining evening, making them more appealing to young audiences as opposed to an event held between professionals. As we are re-launching the awards, I think we should also improve them: it’s useless to just have films nominated that have been out of cinemas for months. It’s not good for the industry that the technical awards are allocated just because the film is popular, as opposed to being voted on by the guilds and therefore the people who are technically competent to do so. Also because we Italians are exporters of cinematographers, costume designers, etc. The last Oscar we won was for make-up, and went to Alessandro Bertolazzi. This capacity of ours for great creativity and technical skill is a clear value of Italian cinema, and we should respect it more.

(Translated from Italian)

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