Alberto La Monica • Director, Apulia Film Forum
“So many projects were overbooked, a sign that our selection had attracted considerable interest”
- We spoke with the director of the Apulia Film Forum, Alberto La Monica, about this year’s tenth edition which unfolded in Brindisi between 10-12 October
Twenty-one projects, 20 countries represented, three days of individual meetings between producers looking for new ideas and synergies, and a welcoming region like few others in the world. Saturday 12 October saw the 10th edition of the Apulia Film Forum come to a close, a travelling international co-production market (held this year in Brindisi) organised by the Apulia Film Commission and reserved for projects in development, whether fiction or documentaries, which are set to be shot (in full or in part) in Puglia. In 9 years, 166 projects have been selected, 55 have been made, and many others are currently in post-production. We chatted about the Forum with its director Alberto La Monica.
Cineuropa: What were the results of this tenth edition of the Apulia Film Forum?
Alberto La Monica: We’re absolutely thrilled. We knew it would be a special edition back when we were organising meetings for the projects and managing appointment requests for the projects ahead of the event. So many projects were overbooked, a clear and immediate sign that the selection we’d made had attracted a great deal of interest. Another sign was the feedback submitted by many guests who’d come to the Forum for the first time: this year we had a Japanese project at the Forum and representatives from UniJapan, and we’re already talking about the possibility, at the next edition, of strengthening relations between Japanese producers and the Puglia region. The same goes for China: the presence of Miao Xiaotian, who represents China’s international productions around the world, was an honour. We also had a project from the Dominican Republic, one from Israel (which was immediately overbooked) and new Scandinavian guests. And, of course, there are also the strong relations we have with the Balkans, with Central Europe… New horizons are opening up before us, while pre-existing links with others are becoming stronger.
What are your project selection guidelines?
What we ask is that the Puglia region is part of the project. The story doesn’t need to be set explicitly within the region, it’s enough that you shoot a few scenes here, even internal ones. Cinema is fiction, after all. And Puglia has the advantage of offering almost all types of locations: for productions looking for a European partner, it might be interesting to look towards Italy, and towards our region, more specifically. The subject-matter explored by the projects this year was incredibly varied and the genres many: thrillers, fantasy films, comedies… I should point out that, in addition to fiction feature films, we also had documentaries. This is a good thing because it means we can offer a range of eclectic film products.
What is it that sets the Apulia Film Forum apart from other co-production markets?
The first factor we’ve identified, going by the feedback we’ve received over the years from all our guests, is that our co-production event doesn’t take place within a festival, as opposed to most of the other markets. This is an important point because it means that all of our participants are focused on the projects in question, and on networking. There are never more than 100 guests and you get the opportunity to meet everyone here in a friendly and informal atmosphere, which is the best way to foster relationships. Moreover, feeling that you know someone is crucial to any trust-based relationship, and it’s also essential for the development of a co-production partnership. One really lovely thing that so many guests have told me is that new companies have also been formed - professionals who met at the Forum and who didn’t necessarily work together on the project in question at the time, have gone on to collaborate on other projects. And then there are the location visits. This is something I love; there’s nothing better than promoting your own region. Every year, we have a great time organising these outings, introducing visitors to the wonders of our area; not just the physical land, but also our traditions, arts and trades.
The Apulia Film Forum is a travelling market which has previously been held in Monopoli, Vieste, Trani, Lecce, Taranto, Bari… Do you already know where the next edition will be held, and when?
We’ll be announcing it shortly. It will take place over the same period – the organisation of this type of event must take other international market dates into account - and we found our location in mid-October, after the PFM in London and ahead of the MIA in Rome, two events whose organisers we work with. The PFM, which this year took place on the weekend before ours, hosted two projects from the last edition of our Forum, and the MIA, which will kick off on 16 October, will host a project from this recent edition, namely Raz Degan’s work. The Apulia Film Forum is a strategic initiative which forms part of the Apulia Film Commission’s plan to develop an entire film production chain within the region and, for a Film Commission, a co-production market is one of the most crucial factors, because it allows you to forge relations with producers from all over the world, no matter how big or small they are.
(Translated from Italian)
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