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“There’s a huge desire to get back to the relationship Italy and France enjoyed in the past”

Industry Report: Produce - Co-Produce...

Roberto Stabile • Head of International Relations, ANICA

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On the occasion of De Rome à Paris, we discuss the various strategies in place to internationalise the Italian system

Roberto Stabile • Head of International Relations, ANICA

On the occasion of the Italian film festival held in Paris, De Rome à Paris, Cineuropa met with ANICA’s Head of International Relations Roberto Stabile to discuss the various strategies in place to internationalise the Italian system.

Cineuropa: What does the Italian presence here, today, in Paris mean for Italian cinema?
Roberto Stabile: First of all, it’s a sign of our closeness to France, which is Italy’s main partner. It’s a sign of continuity, because we’ve managed to proceed with this year’s edition too, rather than cancelling it on account of Covid. It’s one of the few activities which has gone ahead. Our presence during the pandemic is also a way of thanking our French friends and cousins, who have always played host and welcomed us with open arms and are always excited to welcome our particular brand of cinema.

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In terms of your relationship with the French film industry, there is a co-development fund in place, and in the 70s and 80s scores of Italian films were screened in cinemas here, and there were countless co-productions. Are collaborations such as these picking up again, thanks to the help of the Italian Ministry of Culture and the CNC?
There’s a huge desire among politicians, but also among entrepreneurs, to get back to the relationship we’ve enjoyed in the past and our many co-productions. The Ministry has set aside funds to create aid for producers who work together. We also help and support French distributors who buy Italian films and release them in cinemas. Opportunities such as these are also useful for getting Ministry and Cinecittà heads together with CNC and Unifrance managers so that they can develop new strategies. From this year onwards, for example, we’re going to have a follow-up to this Parisian initiative, taking place during the French Film Meetings in Rome.

In which other countries does Italy have a presence or intend to have a strategic presence?
In terms of activities relating to the Ministry of Culture’s special projects, delivered via Cinecittà, we’ve got an initiative up and running in Germany which is similar to this one in Paris, and there’s a project in China aimed specifically at bringing Italian films to Chinese cinemas and trying to help increase instances of co-production and co-distribution. And right now, we’re thinking about new regions, all the ASEAN countries, for example, which might only be small, but when you put them all together, they make for a very sizeable market, much like the Balkans. So, over the coming months and years, we’re going to have tailor-made projects for these geographical areas, which are very similar to this one in Paris, so that Italian cinema can be distributed and co-productions can become more common even in regions such as these.

What about Latin America? How are you positioning yourselves?
We’ve been working in Latin America for quite some time now, but we’ve realised it’s very hard to develop co-productions there owing to differences in budget. On the flip side, it’s a good thing for our producers to go off shooting in these countries, and to use these locations, because they offer huge savings, economically speaking. We have relationships in place with Argentina, Brazil and Colombia, but it’s difficult to get big co-production projects up and running because their budgets are totally different from ours, so there’s a huge imbalance.

Are there any sectors in which the Ministry of Culture should become more involved, in ANICA’s opinion?
At this point in time, ANICA is busy with a massive internal reorganisation; it’s undergoing major transformation and is, to some extent, imposing itself as the association representing the entire audiovisual industry, whilst also taking into account the developments unfolding in the sector. Minister Dario Franceschini’s 2016 law stipulates that all internationalisation activities must go via Cinecittà. ANICA works closely with Cinecittà and ANICA’s international development bureau has been made available to Cinecittà to carry out all these projects. So there’s great synergy and full collaboration on all fronts, to the utmost satisfaction of both sides, I believe.

From your privileged vantage point, how do you see the future of the audiovisual sector panning out, following the changes caused by the pandemic and the arrival of SVOD platforms on the scene, and how can cinemas respond to this?
Cinemas are wrestling with the biggest problem at the moment, and we will all need to come together to work out how best to move forwards, because it’s clear we can’t cling onto ideas and concepts from the past. But it’s also clear that cinemas will play and should still play some sort of central role. That said, we do need to come to terms with new technologies and audiences’ changing habits and preferences, so we should respect cinemas, just not necessarily cling onto old ideas. So, cinemas will evolve in their own way. We need to make sure they become places where people can come together, offering the many different services viewers need in order to be enticed out of their homes. I see cinemas around the world adapting and offering all kinds of things, from sports matches and news to concerts and specific events. It’s a problem that’s being faced all over the world, but other countries seem to be a bit further ahead than us, and have already made inroads towards a possible solution.

The new Creative Media Europe programme was approved last year. Has the feedback been good?
Italian producers are a little lazier and have been a little more disadvantaged than others. This isn’t just the reality within the Creative Europe context, it’s the case for all internationalisation activities. On the one hand, we have a huge tradition of filmmaking, a long history, and, as a result, a pretty sizeable national market which doesn’t really motivate our producers and operators to seek out partners abroad. On the other, we’re a bit resistant to speaking different languages, to sharing our projects and details of our finances with other operators. It’s difficult getting national producers to work together in Italy, let alone convincing them to involve foreign producers in their projects. It’s also true that the Italian State makes so many resources available to our producers that it’s unlikely they’ll go out looking for foreign partners, if the film’s story doesn’t really require it. So they need an incentive, from the Ministry too, in order to plug budgets and make projects which envisage the involvement of foreign producers.

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(Translated from Italian)

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