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Marco Alessi • Producer

"I like to be surprised by what I see"


- We met up with Italian producer Marco Alessi, head of Dugong Films, at the Cinemed Meetings

Marco Alessi  • Producer

Present at the 39th Montpellier Mediterranean Film Festival, where he presented Margherita, the debut fiction feature film project by Valentina Carnelutti, for consideration for the Development Aid Grant, Italian producer Marco Alessi gives Cineuropa the low-down on the journey of his company Dugong Movies, founded in 2010.

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Cineuropa: How would you define Dugong Film’s editorial line, somewhere between documentary and fiction?
Marco Alessi: My tastes are very close to those of cinema d’auteur in the broadest sense of the word, which is not limited to the experimental, but also encompasses all forms of creativity. I don't like labels and I founded Dugong so that I could create projects that really matter to me. I started with Tahrir Liberation Square [+see also:
film profile
 by Stefano Savona, which won a lot of awards, including the 2012 David di Donatello for best documentary, and which has been sold worldwide by Doc & Film, a result that made me think I was on the right track. I then continued to work with Stefano on his next film, La Strada dei Samouni, which we should finish next year and which was co-produced by Arte France Cinema and Rai Cinema, with the support of the CNC (via World Cinema Support) and Eurimages. In the meantime, I discovered the world of international co-productions and I started co-producing in a more structured way, with France in particular, with several projects that I would define as hybrids, because I like to be surprised by what I see. Among other fiction features is Amori e Metamorfosi [+see also:
film profile
 by Yanira Yariv (at Locarno in 2014), the short ReCuiem by Valentina Carnelutti, which was successful at Turin and was screened at some 40 festivals (notably at Rotterdam), The Challenge [+see also:
film review
film profile
 (special jury prize in the Filmmakers of the Present section at Locarno last year), and Whipping Zombie (selected for Cinéma du Réel and Rotterdam) by Yuri Ancarani. There’s also Andrea Caccia's next film, which we are in the process of finishing up, and even The Stand-In [+see also:
interview: Rä di Martino
film profile
 by Rä di Martino, which ended up being screened at Venice in the Cinema nel Giardino section, but I've also worked with Giacomo Abbruzzese and even Adriano Valerio. In my opinion, future audiences will get tired of some of the more classical forms of narration. Hybridisation is a search for forms that represent us today, and even documentary material can have a dramatic impact on the viewer. That’s the kind of thing we’re aiming for with La Strada dei Samouni, for example, which will mix documentary images shot in Gaza during a military operation with animation sequences created by Simone Massi.

What about the project Margherita by Valentina Carnelutti that you pitched here in Montpellier?
As an actress, Valentina has always been extraordinary and the same goes for her work as a director. The film takes place in the 1980s and tells the story of a 14-year-old girl who meets a man who is 20 years older than her. Instead of blocking this relationship, her mother, for various reasons, lets her do what she wants, and Margherita therefore experiences this freedom, which brings her to the crux of the film: that moment in life when we all aspire to become someone else before finally realising that we actually already belong to a certain reality. As Margherita's family is Italian-French and the plot takes place in Lazio and France (in the South or in Normandy), we will naturally co-produce with France and may also potentially involve some Belgian actors. The budget is very reasonable, and we are confident about the possibility of securing funding next year. In the immediate future, the project will be presented at the Agora at the Thessaloniki Festival.

What do you make of the new Italian cinema law?
It’s finally going to come into effect because we’ve been "blindly" producing for nearly a year and we are waiting to find out what methods of public support there will be, as well as any possibilities for adjustment. We will see to what degree the new system will support the type of films I produce in practice, those being voluntarily "modest" independent works. In Italy, there’s a saying: fatta la legge, trovato l'inganno (laws are made to be broken). But I am optimistic. We should wait and see before making any sort of judgement. I have always produced quite self-sufficiently, and when I founded Dugong in 2010, many people tried to dissuade me, saying that I would never succeed, that I did not have any way of entering this world. But I have always been able to find talented professionals in the Italian system who have sought to help me out.

(Translated from French)


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