Greta Fornari • Co-ordinator, TFL Funds
“We believe it’s important to follow the road travelled by the directors we support”
- We chatted with the TFL Funds co-ordinator to find out more about the funds allocated by TorinoFilmLab to support the production and distribution of new film projects
Since its foundation, the Turin-based training and development laboratory for international film projects, TorinoFilmLab, which is now at its 14th edition, has worked on upwards of 800 projects, 144 of which went on to become successful films which travelled the world. Over 40 of these films also won a TFL Fund, consisting of financial aid put forward by the lab, now totalling close to 2 million euros overall. These titles include Maternal [+see also:
interview: Maura Delpero
film profile] by Maura Delpero (which scooped four awards in Locarno 2019), Félicité [+see also:
interview: Alain Gomis
film profile] by Alain Gomis (awarded the Grand Jury Prize at the 2017 Berlinale) and Litigante [+see also:
film profile] by Franco Lolli (which opened Critics’ Week at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival). But what exactly does this aid consist of? We put the question to TFL Funds Co-Ordinator Greta Fornari on the occasion of the 14th TFL Meeting Event, which unspooled in Turin between 29 November and 1 December.
Cineuropa: What exactly are we talking about when we speak of TFL Funds?
Greta Fornari: They consist of various funding options for projects, covering the production and distribution phase. Our support activities are split between those backed by the European Union, which candidates can apply for by way of dedicated calls which we put out in the first part of the year: in 2021 we’ve already awarded three distribution prizes (via the Audience Design Fund) and one co-production support prize (via the Co-Production Fund); then there are the awards allocated via the TFL, at the end of year Meeting Event, to projects at an advanced stage of development within the FeatureLab programme.
What criteria do you use when awarding these funds?
The artistic qualities of projects are always the most important. Every fund has a different committee composed of people working in different fields within the sector: some come from production, some look at projects from a more artistic angle, some come from the world of festivals. We also believe it’s important to follow the road travelled by the directors we support. This year, we awarded a distribution prize to a project entitled Whether the Weather is Fine [+see also:
film profile], which previously took part in FeatureLab in 2017 and won its production prize. But we keep an eye on new cinematic forms too: in recent years, we’ve also opened ourselves up to documentaries and hybrid languages. And the ground we cover in terms of film scouting is extensive, thanks to the funds put forward by the EU in favour of international co-productions between European and non-European countries; this ensures we have a 360-degree view of contemporary film and its new voices. This year, an Audience Design Fund went to a first work which will be the first film by a woman director from Nicaragua. It’s a wholly female story with a female crew both behind and in front of the cameras. Diversity is a key factor for us.
And it’s not just a question of money. In addition to these funds, TFL also provides consultancy and strategy services.
Every year, in accordance with the selected project, we set up a meeting with the film team in order to understand what it is they need at that moment in time to bring that production to a successful close. Often, the consultancy services we offer relate to film scripts, which is an area where a second opinion is always helpful, but that’s not all. The 2021 Co-production Fund went to an Argentine team for the project entitled Puan, which is a comedy. They specifically wanted to speak with Maren Ade, the director of Toni Erdmann [+see also:
Q&A: Maren Ade
film profile], on account of her experience directing comedies – and the film is also co-produced by Germany – so we contacted Ade, she made herself available and they had a conversation about how to go about directing a comedy. Last year the prize was awarded to Lucrecia Martel’s new doc Chocobar and, in this instance, our consultancy services revolved around marketing and audience design; that is, how to get the film ready to be shared with the public and how to reach target audiences. But we also provided support on the legal front, because, given that it’s a true story, there were a few issues which needed clarifying. What’s more, the film team needed to work out how to reconstruct various historical documents and geographical areas which had since disappeared: we found a consultant who specialised in VFX, who helped them to complete this particular phase.
What are you looking to add or improve in the future?
To begin with, our co-production funds were linked to FeatureLab projects, for first or second works. Recently we decided to push the boundaries and created a call for submissions for more established directors. In the future, we will probably expand these possibilities and try to make room for a call to support not just one but two projects, and we’ll also open ourselves up to emerging directors on this front too, because we’ve noticed that there’s a lot of demand for this, especially in terms of international co-productions, which also tells us a lot about the way the market is headed: international co-production widens a film’s distribution options.
(Translated from Italian)
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