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Italy / Switzerland / Austria

Emanuele Nespeca • Producer of Glassboy

“Magic is the key word for children, who are the audience of the future”


- We chatted with the producer of the children’s film, which triumphed at Tallinn Black Nights FF and is released today on Italian VOD platforms

Emanuele Nespeca  • Producer of Glassboy

After winning itself the ECFA Award for Best European Children’s Film at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, and having taken part in the winter edition of the 50th Giffoni FF, Glassboy [+see also:
interview: Emanuele Nespeca
film profile
is being released in Italy today, 1 February, across the major on-demand platforms (Sky Primafila, Google Play, Infinity, Apple tv, Chili, Rakuten Tv, The Film Club and Io resto in Sala). This children’s film directed by Samuele Rossi is loosely based on the Andersen Award-winning novel “Il Bambino di Vetro” (litt. “Glassboy”) by Fabrizio Silei. We interviewed the film’s producer Emanuele Nespeca.

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Cineuropa: This is your first children’s film…
Emanuele Nespeca:
It was something I’d thought about doing in the early days of my career. I’ve always made socially engaged arthouse films, a far cry from the sorts of films watched by children. Now my private and public financial partners are asking me to change my editorial line because my projects have been limited to too restricted an audience. Glassboy is aimed at 8–12-year-olds. I hope to have made the most communicative work possible - within the film’s productive and dramaturgical limits - which anyone can watch for pure escapism, but where they can also enjoy a few moments of reflection. Glassboy has already aroused interest from Germany, whom we’re about to close a deal with, as well as from Taiwan and France. Berlin’s EFM will be the next market we’ll present the film in.

How did your collaboration with Austria and Switzerland on Glassboy come about?
The project was born out of an idea of mine, which was then developed in a meeting with Ebba Sinzinger of Austrian firm WildArt Film and another with Dries Phlypo from Belgium’s A Private View. Ebba Sinzinger is also considering moving towards this genre, while there’s already a tradition for this sort of film in Belgium, as we know. Dries is brilliant, I love the things he’s done, especially in league with Dutch firm Lemming. The first thing we did was obtain funding from Creative Europe, which got the project off on the right tracks. We were selected for the Cinekid Junior Co-Production Market where we realised the project might have international appeal. I had difficulties with our Italian partners and so Peacock Film, who we’d already made various other films with, came to our aid. They successfully presented the project to Swiss financiers who believed Glassboy had the Italian characteristics and flavour which appeal to international audiences, but which we ourselves don’t appreciate in Italy because we see them as stereotypes. I understand the risks with stereotypes, but I can also see the advantage of them. They’re the film’s starting point, because stories begin with stereotypes; children need to rely on stereotypes: baddies need to be baddies and goodies need to be goodies. After Switzerland, we obtained support from Eurimages and then all our other partners came on board, including the Italian ones.

Is the make-up of the film’s production system reflected in the shooting locations?
Yes, with the exception of Switzerland. We shot in five different regions if we include Carinthia, on the outskirts of Klagenfurt. There’s Liguria, Tuscany, Lazio and Calabria. It might seem strange to have chosen so many different resources, but from a packaging perspective it’s not something you notice - it actually enhances the landscape because you don’t recognise any particular place.

Is the role played by the regions increasingly important for independent producers?
The regions are of fundamental and strategic importance for producing non-approved projects. It has to be the role of the Film Commissions and of regional funds to protect local cultural heritage, to help bring to life projects which tell local stories and enhance the value of the area. The audiovisual sector is the first to have an impact on countries’ identities.

What stage is the Italian market at with regard to this genre, compared with its European equivalent?
In Italy, children are seen as a TV audience, we don’t develop products for them with the potential for a cinema release as happens in France, Belgium and in Scandinavia. There’s a real lack of vision because if we take children to the cinema from the age of five, they will become the audience of the future and that desire to go to the cinema will become ingrained in their DNA. Only now are we beginning to talk about it, at state level, too: in our new film legislation there’s a considerable section dedicated to schools and audiovisual education.

But which are the factors that make for a winning children’s film?
Friendship, adventure, discovery, a bit of thriller and sci-fi. Magic is the key word, which can also be used from a social perspective, but with magical elements because, up until a certain age, we don’t perceive reality as an immutably objective thing. We can convey messages using these ingredients: in Glassboy we explore diversity, feeling alone, not being accepted by groups, family-related obstacles. But we have other ideas in development too, we’ll move forwards in new directions.

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(Translated from Italian)

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