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Simonetta Dellomonaco • President, Apulia Film Commission

“We need to unearth new stories which fit with the current circumstances”

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- Simonetta Dellomonaco of the Apulia Film Commission talks about her strategies for tackling the crisis and the idea of building film studios in collaboration with Netflix and Film London

Simonetta Dellomonaco • President, Apulia Film Commission

The new Apulia Film Fund, envisaged by the Puglia Region, will be endowed with 5 million euros and the latter has designated the Apulia Film Commission as the Intermediary Body managing the fund, a transformation also aimed at facilitating the sector’s recovery following the period of crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Indeed, the key points in the region’s strategy for tackling the Covid-19 crisis include reducing bureaucracy levels, ensuring safe working and increasing innovation”, explains Simonetta Dellomonaco, president of the AFC, to Cinema & Video International, “and this marries well with the need, which is especially acute at present, to assist audiovisual productions whose teams are looking to come to Puglia once shooting activities resume. Together with the Puglia Region, we are putting the finishing touches on a variety of instruments, both in terms of subsidies for businesses who can count on the direct support of the AFC and calls aimed at authors designed to foster innovation.”

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Cinema & Video International: In the meantime, the Apulia Development Fund’s second call for applications opened on 15 April: candidates have until 15 May to submit their requests, while the various applications selected off the back of the first call - 15 in all - will all be supported by the Apulia Film Commission, which has made the exceptional decision to increase the finance awarded, in view of the particularly difficult period the sector is experiencing.
Simonetta Dellomonaco: Offering support to authors is essential. Now more than ever we need to unearth new stories which fit with the current circumstances.

And which are the stories best suited to the circumstances?
Those from the Third Sector, for example, which will make their way to us via the upcoming instalment of the Social Film Fund, developed in league with the Con il Sud (“With the South”) Foundation, which we decided, in agreement with the Puglia Region, to refinance. Then there are the many stories relating to gaming, cross-media formats and animation, covered by the new Apulia Shorts&Digital Fund which we’re using to identify projects involving new digital formats, also in terms of how they’re consumed and exploited online. This focus on new formats also underpinned the construction of a Digital Production Centre within the Apulia Film House which was supposed to be unveiled in April. It will be developed with the help of Puglia-based companies working in the spheres of animation, gaming, cross-media content and post-production. It will act as a runway for them, while the new fund will serve as their launch pad. The Apulia Film House will also act as a showcase for new, experimental productions modelled on other major film centres in Europe. We’re starting with businesses already present in the region, with the aim of attracting new installations, perhaps from northern Italy, where there are so many businesses involved in the sector.  

In terms of infrastructure, building work on the new cineport hubs in Brindisi and Taranto is ongoing, and a feasibility study has also been launched for the construction of studios and  water tanks. Have you already found a private partner?
We’re open to collaborations. We’ve had various discussions with Netflix, following our experience with the film The Ruthless [+see also:
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by Renato De Maria, which was filmed in its entirety at Foggia’s trade fair, over the course of almost 5 weeks last year. Produced by Bibi Film with Rai Cinema and Indie Prod, the film was then bought by Netflix, who’d already arrived in Puglia with Michael Bay’s Six Underground under their arm, and who also recently acquired the new film starring Sofia Loren: Edoardo Ponti’s La vita davanti a sé, produced by Palomar and shot between Bari and Spinazzola.

The idea of building studios in Puglia also ties in with another of the Apulia Film Commission’s vocations, relating to film tourism.
In this respect, we signed an agreement with Film London in September last year, and in November we held a Focus in London to share best practices and experiences. We believe that some of these studios could be built as permanent sets, in the case of series with the potential to become landmark productions.

Aside from aids for businesses and support for authors, there are also initiatives in terms of the wider public…Which begin with activities aimed at engaging cinema operators in the organisation of festivals, retrospectives and auteur films, all screened within virtual venues. Movie theatres act as our feelers, spread out across the region via our “Auteur Circuit”, and at this particular point in time they could join with us to take extensive regional action geared towards audience development and audience engagement. Today, exhibitors are really suffering and they must make sure they don’t lose their relationships with their audiences.

In collaboration with

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(Translated from Italian)

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