The Golden Age of Italian documentaries is a long wave: it started with “Holy GRA” by Gianfranco Rosi, Golden Lion at Venice 2013 and continued, also thanks to Rosi, with “Fuocoammare-Fire at sea”, which first won the Golden Bear at Berlin 2016, then went on to become one of the five nominees for the Oscars in 2017.
It was fueled by phenomena like “Lost and beautiful” by Pietro Marcello, Golden Leopard at Locarno 2015, “Lousiana” by Roberto Minervini, selected at Cannes 2015 in the Un Certain Regard section and “The last Resort”, the only Italian film in the official selection at Cannes 2016. And we could add “TIR” by Alberto Fasulo which started out as a documentary to later become a drama, the winner of the Rome Film Festival 2013.
But are these international awards enough to decree the success of documentaries in Italy?
We wanted to look at this in more detail following the opening of La Compagnia cinema in Florence: a bold initiative undoubtedly made possible by the fact that it is managed by a Public Body, the Regione Toscana [Tuscan Region], but by no means cut off from the market for this reason.
Some of the gures – not so much the possibly excessive mass of documentary lm productions, but rather the growth of those distributed in movie theaters in recent years – show that a market – albeit a niche one – exists for this type of film; that it is not the same as mainstream cinema and not even just that of movie-lovers; that its identity and diffusion are solidly anchored to the territory.
From here came the decision to carry out a “reconnaissance” of the regions (not all of them, and we apologize for that, but we will be returning to this topic and will fill in any gaps), having confirmed the close links between internationality and local identity, and having verified the inadequacy of traditional distribution methods.
So far Italian documentaries have chalked up their successes by traveling through international Festivals.
They are the interpreters of an innovative thrust, they have the potential to make new audiences – or audiences that no longer go to the cinema – emerge or re-emerge.
How are they doing this? We try to understand .