La Sarraz has just celebrated its 10th birthday: an important occasion for the production company based in Turin which was founded in 2004 by Alessandro
Borrelli. Lots of documentaries, features, cross-media projects and the backing of young filmmakers (Sergio Basso, the De Serio brothers). Quality products that often scoop up all the awards at festivals, but that also need to be ‘followed’ in order to find their own audiences.
It is no coincidence that, for a few years now, the company has also handled the distribution of a number of titles, starting with documentaries (‘Cadenas’ and ‘Dal profondo’) and continuing with the new work by Eugene Green, ‘La Sapienza’, 15 copies of which were released at the end of November after the Italian launch at the Turin Film Festival which was followed by a journey on to Locarno, Toronto and New York, “our first proper experience of distribution after the various ‘sporadic’ experiments with documentaries”, continues Borrelli. “We will be continuing along this path with the projects we are producing in 2015”.
These include ‘Dimmi chi sono’ by Sergio Basso, a project dedicated to the exiles of Bhutan, a documentary (supported by the Piemonte Doc Fund) with elements of fiction, which is linked to a multimedia project financed by Media, ‘I ricordi del fiume’, a creation documentary for cinema, the second work by the De Serio brothers, who “are following the European project to dismantle nomadic camps on the banks of the river Stura in Turin”. Also for the cinema “in 2015 we will be filming ‘Di Fame non si muore’ by the director of Masterchef Umberto Spinazzola: we want to launch it at the Expo. And we are also completing our first animation, the short ‘Jorge e Felix’ by Lorenzo La Trofa (who also did the animation on ‘Giallo a Milano’) about a family that moves from Southern Italy to Sweden”.
Since 2103 Animoka has handled the executive production of the Italian part of the TV series ‘Calimero 3D’ (a co-production between Gaumont and Studio Campedelli) which, Tromba explains “was the showcase that gave us international recognition and allowed us to structure a team of twenty or so young people made up of artists and computer graphics experts”.
And to take the first steps towards their next objective, in- house production: “We are creating a regular animation studio, with all the artistic departments, including a script room, and we are working on funding projects. In 2015 we will produce ‘Ghost Carousel’, a long family animation which received a special mention as a “script to be brought to the attention of the production world” at the Premio Solinas, and which is arousing a lot of international interest.”
This structuring towards in-house production and the training and employment opportunities on international projects offered to young people “make our profile interesting to the Film Commission, to which we increasingly report”.
The international vocation of businesses in the region is something that the Film Commission is both looking for and incentivizing at the same time. This is evident in the field of documentaries, with the Piemonte Doc Fund, “that has permitted the developmentand embedding of a fabric of local filmmakers and the creation of some of the most active documentary production companies in Italy, many of which have been joined together since 2010 in the AProDoc association which was set up for the purpose of systemizing the region and dialoging with the FC on regional audiovisual policies”.
These are the words of Massimo Arvat, one of the founders of Aprodoc, which includes 25 companies of which “6-7 are active in international co-productions”. His own company Zenit is one of these and “the contribution of the Doc Fund is fundamental, because often it is the only thing that comes from Italy, it becomes decisive for obtaining credibility on international markets”.
This was the case, for example, with ‘Ultima chiamata’ (a co-production between Zenit, Arte and the Norwegian Skotsland Film), for which it funded both the development and the production: the project tells the story of the first sustainable development theorists who, in 1972, wrote “The Limits to Growth”, and ‘toured’ around ten TV and around fifty international festivals. The pilot of ‘Cultural Shock’, a cross-media format by Davide Tosco and Massimo Arvat, also enjoyed great international success, although the production of the same is momentarily at a standstill. In this regard, concludes Arvat, “we are urging the Film Commission to create a fund dedicated to cross-media projects, updating its policies on audiovisuals and opening them up to new areas, including the distribution of documentaries to movie theaters.”