Cinecitta Exec Brings Battle for Global Markets to Toronto Film Festival

Italy had six homegrown movies in the recent Venice Film Festival, including Saverio Costanzo’s Golden Lion competition entry Finally Dawn and Edoardo de Angelis’ festival opener Comandante.

But Roberto Stabile, head of special projects at Cinecitta and ANICA’s (the National Association of Audiovisual and Digital Cinematographic Industries) head of international relations, wants to see Italian movies go well beyond the Venice red carpet and local cinemas to conquer world markets. So he’s at the Toronto Film Festival this week to pitch an offer of marketing coin for local distributors worldwide that buy Italian movies.

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The goal of the Italian Film Distribution Fund is pushing local producers to make more homegrown movies for foreign markets, including through co-productions to share the risk and resources on a film.

“This new fund wants to open the minds of our producers, open up new markets to push them to receive much more money than state financing,” Stabile told The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday. Italy, in looking for its national cinema to prove itself in foreign markets, is also catching up to France and Germany after they rolled out their own generous film distribution support programs.

The Italian Film Distribution Fund finances up to 50,000 euros per film to market a theatrical release in a foreign market, and another 15,000 euros is available for a digital video-on-demand release. “It’s a very aggressive campaign organized around the world, using our Italian embassies or agencies,” Stabile explained.

But aside from supporting finished product, Italy is also looking to boost Italian co-productions with foreign partners, while also having a film tax credit to entice U.S. and other foreign producers to shoot their films in Italy. “We want to be everywhere, doing everything, to support the internationalization of our industry,” Stabile said.

The battle for foreign markets comes amid criticism of homegrown Italian movies not innovating enough with new narratives and voices over the last generation and not reaching out for a new, younger audience internationally.

Italy is also using the Toronto Film Festival as a gateway into the U.S. film market, much like it used a country spotlight at the recent Guadalajara Film Festival to push north into Hollywood. And in July in Trieste, Italy, Cinecitta organized a summit of U.S. and French film producers, including from the Producers Guild of America and the Motion Picture Association, to discuss issues of mutual concern, including new financing models for indie cinema.

“We decided to meet each other every year to discuss the problems of our industry, to find new strategies and to increase the cooperation of the United States and Europe,” Stabile said.

The Toronto Film Festival continues through Sunday.

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