Italy embarks on major campaign to lure international productions

Earlier this month Italy signed a film co-production agreement with Japan, only the second such deal that Japan has signed

By Screen Staff 28 Jul 2023

Italy embarks on major campaign to lure international productions
The White Lotus s2 filmed in Italy; Cr: HBO

Last week, Italy hosted the Audiovisual Producer’s Summit in Trieste, inviting leading US producers and studio executives as well as a significant French delegation to meet with Italian producers and industry figures. This follows Italy being the guest of honour at Mexico's Guadalajara Film Festival in June.

Coming up, a major delegation of Italian producers are travelling to the Tokyo Film Festival in October, led by its deputy culture minister Lucia Borgonzoni. Tokyo is planning a retrospective of legendary Italian director Franco Zeffirelli to mark the 100th anniversary of his birth. Earlier this month Italy signed a film co-production agreement with Japan, only the second such deal that Japan has signed.

In February 2024, Italy will be the ‘Country in Focus’ at the Berlinale’s European Film Market, which will highlight the work of Italian filmmakers and host events involving Italian producers, distributors and investors. As part of the initiative, the main bar in the EFM’s Gropius Bau building will be converted into an Italian bar, while an Italian restaurant offering food and drink from the country will be specially created at the venue.

The initiatives are being managed by Roberto Stabile, head of special projects at the Directorate General for Cinema and Audiovisual of the Italian Ministry of Culture at Cinecittà and head of the international department at producers’ and distributors association Anica.

Stabile organised last week’s AVP Summit in Trieste, where guests included Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman and CEO Tony Vinciquerra, veteran producer and financier Tarak Ben Ammar, HBO’s senior vice president of incentives and production planning Jay Roewe, Unifrance executive director Daniela Elstner, White Lotus producer David Bernad and The Queen’s Gambit producer William Horberg.

The ambition for the AVP Summit, says Stabile, was to bring together two major European film producing countries – Italy and France – to “create a kind of bridge between Europe and the United States.”

Held at Trieste’s Hotel Savoia Excelsior Palace, the intimate event hosted talks, panel discussions, lunches and evening events for US, Italian and French executives – all eased along by fine Italian food and wine. Unlike a festival or a market, there were no movies to watch and to buy and sell. “It’s a moment where people can stay together and discuss the problems of the industry without any distraction,” says Stabile.

It’s the second AVP Summit that Italy has hosted, with the first taking place in Matera in 2021. Italy plans to host the Summit in different locations around the country, outside well-known cities such as Rome, Florence and Venice, which could themselves become future film locations (Matera notably featured in No Time To Die).

This year was the first time that French executives were invited to what was previously an Italian-US affair. Stabile plans to build on the co-operation with France in future years. “For us, France is the first partner for co-productions. And, at the same time, we are the most important market for French movies and also their first partner for co-production. So, Italy and France, together with the United States, can create a kind of platform to increase our cooperation.”

Production has boomed in Italy in recent years, fuelled by the country’s generous 40% tax credit and other incentives. Roughly 250 Italian films are thought to be made each year, while current inward investment productions include Roland Emmerich’s gladiator series Those About To Die and Joe Wright’s Mussolini series M.

Italy does not have a single promotional body for its audiovisual industry, like France’s Unifrance, so the initiatives to promote the local industry are being supported by a variety of institutions including Italy’s ministry of culture, ministry of foreign affairs, the Italian Trade Agency, Italian embassies around the world as well as Anica and Cinecitta.

This article originally appeared on our sister site Screen International and was written by Tim Dams.

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