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“Nous travaillons au développement de la filière distribution et à l'internationalisation du documentaire”

Dossier industrie: Produire - Coproduire...

Francesco Virga • Président,Doc/it

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Nous avons interrogé le producteur et président de l'association Doc/it sur son plan pour promouvoir et soutenir le cinéma documentaire

Francesco Virga • Président,Doc/it

Cet article est disponible en anglais.

At the end of November, within the framework of Torino Film Industry, the 17th edition of Italian Doc Screenings took place, organised by Doc/it – the Italian Association of Documentary Makers. The participants selected for the IDS Academy training course presented their documentary projects in a pitching session geared towards producers and sector experts. The Doc/it Professional Awards were handed out, and two panel discussions on cinema distribution and serial co-production also graced the agenda. We chatted about the event with the association’s president, producer Francesco Virga.

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Cineuropa: Doc/it has a jam-packed agenda to promote and support documentary cinema.
Francesco Virga: Doc/it’s cultural activities go hand in hand with its political ventures, which are carried out in parallel with the association’s commitment to discussing tax credits, documentary-making and “contracting services” with the government. We’re working to raise qualitative standards in terms of production, creation but also internationalisation. We look at the whole sector, more or less: the areas I’ve mentioned are clearly based around production and, therefore, on funds for production, but one of the key characteristics of the documentary field is actually the difficulties involved in distribution. Besides historic activities like DS Academy – which is a training course aimed at authors, to help develop projects creatively and then put them in front of producers – we’ve organised panel discussions in Turin. All these public activities are a kick-off to draw in personalities, groups and other associations or individuals who are likely to be interested in the themes tackled. The panel discussion on distribution gathered together cinema operators, distributors, international sales agents and members of our association, naturally. In Turin, we launched a working group who put together proposals: on the one hand, proposals for the Ministry to support the documentary distribution sector but also to identify any experimental activities already underway which might generate virtuous circles within this field, such as new forms of distribution or new deals between distributors and cinema operators.

We also held a panel discussion around the European convention on series, which naturally concerns documentary series too and which involved a case history on the value of support, offered up by Eurimages and a really interesting perspective from the European Producers Club. If this convention is finalised, it would bring changes favourable to independent producers. For example, a balance of power with platforms on the subject of rights. 

Alongside Anica, Apa, CNA Cinema e Audiovisivo and Agici, you also took part in a Torino Film Commission panel discussion on the system’s crisis points and how to overcome them. What is your position on this?
I believe that Doc/it has put forward some realistic, transformative proposals, whilst also underlining the real problems at play in our field: the bias in public support towards a handful of producers, all the attention that’s paid to the industrial sector and the scant interest in its artisanal counterpart, where documentary producers naturally place themselves.

What is the situation in Italy when it comes to the crucial subject of co-productions?
Internationalisation is key for our system: in Italy there are less funds for documentaries than in other countries, relatively speaking, so it’s normal that producers have often sought out other resources, especially by way of France or through Anglo-Saxon channels. In so doing, we create relationships with other productive systems and other audiences. Ours is a field where we co-produce a lot and, historically, we take part in lots of international co-production markets and international pitching forums. There’s definitely more that can be done to support this effort. Documentary producers also make regular use of European funds and this attests to the levels of internationalisation at play. The documentary world is very diverse; we’re looking to develop research to map out this universe, together with Milan’s Catholic University, in order to put forward policy proposals which are aligned with realistic scenarios.    

You awarded prizes to documentary makers Stefano Savona, Chloé Barreau and Valentina Bertani in Turin.
The Doc/it Professional Award, which we handed out in Turin, rewarded both the authors and the producers, because it makes you eligible for automatic subsidies. Besides working at an extraordinary qualitative level, these are authors who protect and develop what we refer to as creative biodiversity, which is the most vital feature of Italian documentaries. In recent years, there’s been a huge transformation in language and genres, which have sometimes helped us to reach wider audiences, albeit in exchange for linguistic standardisation, which some might see as not quite so necessary. The Doc/It Women Award, handed out in Venice to producer Serena Gramizzi of Bo Film, is for the best project in development. The need to invest in development is a message we’re sending not only within our own community, but also to Ministry and RAI partners, in order to ensure more satisfied audiences and wider national and international circulation.

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(Traduit de l'italien)

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