Mercedes Fernandez, Daniele Segre • TorinoFilmLab
“It’s important to adapt to new industry trends; that’s why we’re opening up our funds to documentaries”
by Vittoria Scarpa
- Managing Director Mercedes Fernandez and Production & Audience Design Fund Advisor Daniele Segre spoke to us about all the latest TorinoFilmLab news
With a new fund dedicated to co-productions, the group’s first ever workshop for documentary projects and much, much more, Mercedes Fernandez and Daniele Segre, respectively Managing Director and Production & Audience Design Fund Advisor at the TorinoFilmLab, chatted with us about the latest developments to hit the year-round laboratory which supports emerging talent worldwide.
Cineuropa: What exactly is the new TFL World Co-Production Fund?
Mercedes Fernandez: The TFL World Co-Production Fund strengthens the offer of support provided by TFL for the production of full-length films from all around the world; that is, co-produced by European firms alongside non-European partners. The aim is to provide assistance to directors who are working on their third feature film or beyond. Up for grabs is a €50,000 film grant, as well as a specialist consultation with an expert in international co-productions. It also allows for the presentation of the project to an audience of professionals within the TFL Meeting Event. The fund is open to all cinematic storytelling forms: fiction, animation, and documentaries. European production companies (who are based in one of the countries participating in the MEDIA programme) can put forward their own projects via an online link which will remain active until 12 June 2019.
For a number of years now, the TorinoFilmLab has also provided film distribution support by way of the TFL Audience Design Fund. What does this fund offer to applicants?
Daniele Segre: Launched in 2014, the TFL Audience Design Fund isn’t just a financial resource to help films make it through to cinema auditoriums (the fund is increasing 3 of its prizes by €40,000 each this year); it also provides them with strategic distribution support in at least 3 territories. The film teams take part in a specialist consultation with two TorinoFilmLab experts who will then work with them to develop an Audience Design Strategy. In this respect, the fund provides the titles with real, physical support in this particular phase of the project - audience engagement actions are devised by our experts and so are better adapted to the countries where the films will be distributed. The same terms apply to this fund as to the TFL World Co-Production Fund: it’s aimed at international co-productions, with no restrictions on genre. The grant is awarded to European producers or sales agents who are working on an ongoing project which is selected by way of an annual call for applications. The deadline for presenting projects is 3 June 2019.
One of this year’s novelties is the opening up of both funds to include documentaries. What led to this decision?
D.S.: The divide between fiction and “cinéma du réel” is increasingly tenuous: many creative documentaries follow the same circulation patterns in festivals and the same distribution paths as full-length fiction films. For us, it’s important that TorinoFilmLab adapts to new realities and new industry trends; that’s why we decided to open our funds up to documentaries. It seems right that we should broaden the range of options available for exploring a different cinematic language in order to keep on telling stories from all around the world.
On the subject of documentaries, TFL Extended will also be organising a workshop dedicated to this genre for the very first time. What will it offer?
M.F.: TFL Extended is a new TorinoFilmLab initiative which has been active since 2018. It was born out of a desire to offer immediate, high-level support to professionals from all over the world by way of four-day workshops to be held in Turin. As such, in June, for the very first time, we’ll be organising an intensive workshop dedicated to this particular form. Open to a maximum of 25 projects, the workshop will provide professionals with the opportunity to work alongside a team of expert creative advisors. Included among these is Noemi Schory, an Israeli producer and director who has produced over 100 international documentaries and who is a tutor within other development programmes in Goa, Sarajevo, Budapest and Tbilisi. The workshop will consist of a masterclass and group sessions designed to provide projects with the best possible development assistance, from both a narrative point of view and in terms of production.
In the meantime, the TFL continues to rack up successes: Port Authority by Danielle Lessovitz, winner of the TFL Co-Production Fund (€50,000) in 2016, has been selected for this year’s Un Certain Regard competition in Cannes. What are the key qualities of a potentially successful project?
M.F.: There will be four films under the TorinoFilmLab banner in Cannes this year: in addition to Port Authority,Critics’ Week will feature the first full-length film by Amin Sidi-Boumédiène (Algeria), Abou Leila [+see also:
film profile], as well as Litigante [+see also:
film profile] by the Colombian director Franco Lolli; and then The Orphanage [+see also:
interview: Shahrbanoo Sadat
film profile], the long-awaited second film by the Afghan filmmaker Shahrbanoo Sadat, will participate in the Directors’ Fortnight competition. These four films took part in the FeatureLab programme, and some of them received production support. But it is their stories which really make them unique, told by four singular voices. Storytelling is at the centre of all of TorinoFilmLab’s activities.
What is the overall focus of the TFL in its twelfth year of life?
M.F.: Cooperation and peer-to-peer experience are at the heart of our approach. In recent years, we’ve succeeded in creating a real community of alumni and in making the TorinoFilmLab synonymous with a safe space for developing projects and sharing them with professionals from all around the world. The TorinoFilmLab also plans to maintain its particular focus on experimentation and research. Years ago, we initiated a study on audience engagement strategies which was synthesised into a book last year: Audience Design – An Introduction (free to download on our website). In order to respond to the needs and trends of the industry, we extended our activities to include documentaries, as we did two years ago for TV series via the SeriesLab programme. There will be a few more surprises over the coming months: Albatros, TFL’s first TV series (produced by the Belgian firm De Wereldvrede), entered into production this spring…
(Translated from Italian)
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