Tiziana Soudani • Producer
"In Switzerland, production and filmmaking are going on and attention is being paid to quality"
by Muriel del Don
- After the great success in Cannes of The Wonders by Alice Rohrwacher, Tiziana Soudani is getting ready to take on other projects with determination and innovation
Tiziana Soudani is the founder of her own production company, Amka Films, born in 1987. Amka Films is based out of the Canton of Ticino, the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland. Starting with productions centred around Africa, the Ticino production house then opened itself up to independent films from Europe too. In 2014, Amka Films was given the prestigious Grand Prix by the jury of the Cannes Festival for Alice Rohrwacher’s film The Wonders [+see also:
interview: Alice Rohrwacher
interview: Tiziana Soudani
film profile], co-produced by the Italian Swiss production house. After studying languages and management, Tiziana Soudani worked from 1992 to 1995 as an assistant at the international film festival in Locarno and acted as coordinator for the “Montecinemaverità” foundation. From 2000 to 2001, she was in charge of the EXPO2002 for the production of 143 documentary films from the ONOMA project. Starting in 2000, she taught production at the conservatory for audiovisual sciences (CISA) in Lugano.
Cineuropa: Could you briefly present Amka Films? What are your beliefs and what is a common thread for your productions?
Amka Films is a Swiss production house (from Ticino), born in 1987. In the beginning, it was born to only produce films tied to Africa, by African directors, or for films by my husband (Mohammed Soudani) – also made in Africa. Slowly, slowly, we were pushed to include European productions. I realise increasingly that my common thread is independent cinema because those are the films that take me in the most and get under my skin. When I read a script, I only pay attention to my feelings.
What does the Grand Prix, which was assigned by the Cannes jury for The Wonders by Alice Rohrwacher mean for Amka Films?
It is undoubtedly a great honour. For a young director in her second film to be selected in Cannes and then to win the jury’s Grand Prix is very emotional, I must admit. Being present was a little hard because we are no longer a part of the Media programme and because of the voting results from February 9 (on the limitation of mass immigration) – but it was important. It means that Switzerland is still producing, making films, there is still attention being given to quality cinema. We are a little country surrounded by Europe and we are in Europe even if we are not a political part of it. This award underlines that Switzerland is also a source for cinema, which is often made with an outsider’s perspective. Personally, I think that it is very important to be present on the international film scene. Collaborating with Europe is important also in order to grow and enrich ourselves culturally.
How did the collaboration with Alice Rohrwacher come about? What seduced you in her way of “making cinema”?
Before meeting Alice, I met the Italian producer who asked me to come on board the Heavenly Body project (the director’s first feature film). Reading the screenplay, I could see what her intentions were but it was not easy for me to see what her film was going to be like at that point. I could see immediately that there was something special about her. This intuition was only confirmed when I met Alice. When you meet someone, you really realise what their sensitivity is like, what their personal outlook is – and from there, you develop a trusting relationship. Having not seen her previous films (before Heavenly Body), I let myself be transported from her own personality. I could feel a particular strength, including in her way of shooting, her way of telling a story, of explaining her intentions. Meeting her was decisive. Following this, I met her entire family, which is very present. They are a true artistic family from which two sisters have emerged (Alice and Alba). One is a director and the other an actress. Both have a rich and strong background of great quality. The two sisters are very close. You can see there is something special between the two, like they do not need to speak to each other.
Could you briefly talk about your future projects?
At the moment, we are developing two scripts by two young filmmakers who come from the world of documentary filmmaking. In July, filming will start for a documentary for cinema, in co-production with Italy. A very interesting documentary, starting from CERN, which then develops a reflection on beauty and the intersection between science and art. It is a very ambitious project, and a beautiful one, by Valerio Jalongo, which is called The God Particle. In parallel, we are developing a documentary for cinema on the role of women in Africa. We will start filming at the end of June (minority co-production) for Marco Bellocchio’s next film. Then (and this is also in development), we are carrying forward two documentaries by two promising directors. For Amka Films, 2014 is a development year and a year of hard work.
(Translated from Italian)
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.