Francesco Giai Via • Head of Studies, Alpi Film Lab
“Environmental sustainability and gender equality should be seen as part of our new professional DNA”
- We chatted with Head of Studies Francesco Giai Via who’s overseeing this programme on Italian-French co-production, the second edition of which kicks off on 8 April with a first workshop in Annecy
The first workshop of the second edition of Alpi Film Lab - the training and development programme for film professionals and students which centres on Italian-French co-production and which was born out of a collaboration between TorinoFilmLab and the Annecy Italian Film Festival (read our news) - is kicking off on Friday 8 April. We asked the programme’s Head of Studies Francesco Giai Via for an initial assessment of this initiative, as well as discussing the projects taking part in this year’s edition (for participant details, click here) and the need for environmental sustainability and gender equality.
Cineuropa: Six of the eight teams which took part in the first edition of Alpi Film Lab have successfully continued along the co-production path. It’s a brilliant result.
Francesco Giai Via: The outcome of our 2021 edition was very positive, even with the pandemic. For the very first time, we attempted a variation on the TorinoFilmLab’s method, with a view to developing a programme linking into co-production with an unprecedented approach to matchmaking, a diverse range of participants and a brand-new group of tutors, chosen ad hoc. These productive parties, who got to know one another during the Alpi Film Lab process and who worked together for several months, supported by experts, produced a series of documents and materials which were exactly what was needed for the subsequent steps in the co-production process, so they decided to bring their simulation outside of our lab.
What does this “simulation” consist of, exactly?
You can take part in Alpi Film Lab in two ways: either with or without your own project; the idea is to place a producer and his or her director from one of the two countries alongside a producer from the other country who has applied for the programme without a project. At the end of the first workshop, eight projects and eight producers will be matched together. From that moment onwards, they will go through the development process as a team; the majority producer will be supported by a development partner from the other country, all with the aim of a potential French-Italian co-production. It’s a simulation because none of the participants sign any papers to say that from that moment on, they’re production partners. But they can try their hand at a whole series of steps which form part of the co-production creation process. It’s a realistic simulation because they really are developing a project during those months spent working; and if they get on well and make progress in various ways, why not do it for real?
What can you tell us about the projects taking part in this second edition of the event?
The projects range from fiction through to documentaries and animation. The participants themselves are very varied: there are some really young producers and others who’ve already achieved impressive results on a national level but who haven’t yet tried their hand at co-production; there are companies which have mainly worked on documentaries to date, and which now want to try their hand at fiction, or director-producer pairings who decide to collaborate on a first feature film after previously only making short films together. What they all have in common is an interest in developing more complex and ambitious projects. What’s more, our programme concerns all regions and departments along the border between France and Italy, but it also aims to involve wider, national regions, encompassing productions from Naples, Rome or Paris, for example, who pinpoint stories, locations and production opportunities in the border regions.
It must have been a real challenge, bringing this programme to life at the height of the pandemic, with all its uncertainty.
From a production point of view, international co-production is essential. So many of the impressive outcomes Italian film has been enjoying in recent years are a product of an attitude which sees co-production as a natural choice for developing feature films, which is especially common among young directors and emerging producers. But delivering these films to audiences and cinemas is more complicated. Another aspect of the Alpi Film Lab’s work relates to educating audiences and engaging with Italian and French students. It’s an automatic thing in France, whereas in Italy, we’re only now beginning to understand that the more we work on educating audiences as early on as in schools, the more we reaffirm the importance of watching films in cinemas.
This year’s selection is remarkable for its near-total gender balance.
If we work with new generations, and directors and producers of the future, we can ensure pass on the message that necessities such as environmental sustainability and gender equality are a given. That’s why, during the first workshop in Annecy, we’ll have two mornings dedicated to these themes: one with Giovanni Pompili, Head of Studies at the new TFL Green Film Lab, which will see Italian and French experts discussing sustainability, certification and what it means to put a sustainable production together; and on the following day, we’ll have representatives from the 50/50 collective, 100 Autori (including director Paola Randi) and other French associations, who will talk about gender equality and statistics in order to compare the French system with its Italian counterpart, with a view to working out the good practices which are required, on the private and institutional level, in order to improve equality. We’re determined to convey the idea that these themes are part and parcel of our reality and that we should see them as part of our new professional DNA.
(Translated from Italian)
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