The creative inspiration was “Rosy Abate”, “a gamble that was won thanks to the determination of Beniamino Catena, a director who is very fond of the Finale Ligure area and decided to bring a Mafia story here, relaunching our region in Italy and in all the other countries where the drama has been sold”.
And Walter Iuzzolino, “one of our top names caught up in the brain drain who had a great desire to come back and work in his own region”.
This is how Cristina Bolla, president of the Genova Liguria Film Commission (GLFC) explains the genesis of the Digital Fiction Festival (DFF), the event directed by Iuzzolino and organized by the Genova Liguria Film Commission with the collaboration of the Municipality of Finale Ligure, the Fondazione De Mari, the Regione Liguria, the Unione Albergatori (Hoteliers’ Union) of the Province of Savona and Associazione E20.
The first edition, from August 1 to 4, brought to Finale Ligure five series from the Walter Presents offering, the VOD platform created by Iuzzolino (a joint venture between Channel 4 and the Global Series Network) which is also present in America, Australia and Belgium and, more recently, in Italy on Discovery.
The first two shows with which WP began ‘broadcasting’ were “Deutschland 83” by Edward Berger and Samira Radsi ,which won the Onda D’Oro (Golden Wave) at Finale Ligure for best director, and “Spin”, a French political thriller that portrays power as seen through the clash between the spin doctors of two presidential nominees, which won both the audience award and the award for best screenplay.
“What attracted me to this project was the solid narrative architecture that Dan Frank devised right from the start as a trilogy of power”, explains Gregory Fitoussi, one of the protagonists. “Spin” has been sold all over the world and negotiations are underway for a Spanish remake, reveals the producer Charline de L’Epine.
The concept of anticipating reality and, thus, foretelling it, is also a feature of “Magnifica ‘70”, the Brazilian series produced by HBO about the world of film censorship in Brazil in the ’70s told through the love story between a government censor and an erotic film actress.
The leading actress, Simone Spoladore (who won the best actress award at the DFF) is convinced of this, “unfortunately the events portrayed are once again dramatically topical given the ac- tions of the Bolsonaro government and the cuts to the film industry.”
“Thicker than water” the Swedish psychological drama set on the Årland islands and produced by Sweden’s SVT in collaboration with the Finnish Svenska Yle, won the award for artistic direction. Björn Bengtsson, one of the protagonists, announced that filming has started on the third season.
Tormented family relationships (and religion) are also at the center of the other Scandinavian drama presented, “Ride upon the Storm”.
Penned by Adam Price, author of the famous “Borgen” for which actor Lars Mikkelsen won an Emmy Award, young Simon Sears won the best actor award at the DFF.
The series were screened in the original language with subtitles in Italian, just like on WP: “We believe that it is important to try to promote viewer loyalty to the pleasure of viewing products in the original language and it is significant that this is being backed in Italy by a global player like Discovery” says Iuzzolino, continuing: “in fact, things have changed a lot on the Italian television scenario over the last five years and this is the merit of the big streamers, like Netflix and Amazon. We understood that by raising the level, the product gained in quality”.
One of the people responsible for this change, maintains Iuzzolino, is Tinni Andreatta, director of Rai Fiction, “who has completely transformed the type of output, choosing products of international appeal.”
Two of these have made their way to WP: “Maltese”, “a very cinematographic series about the Mafia, starring Kim Rossi Stuart, that triumphed in the UK and which we will be launching in the fall in America and Australia”, and “Non uccidere” with Miriam Leone, available from August on WP. This air of change can also be felt in in the GLFC which, on its 20th anniversary, is witnessing a remarkable growth in the number of productions in the region and the consequent effects on allied industries. This is also a result of the Fund, which has been operational since 2018, and the steely will of the president and associates to create synergies between the region’s various production sectors, particularly arts and crafts, as celebrated by the web series “In viaggio con la figlia” directed by Giorgio Molteni and supported by Confartigianato.
The DFF is an important step in this direction and while the festival is working to bring audiences closer to big international series and create networking opportunities between foreign and local professionals, Italian drama is increasingly finding a home in Liguria.
From “Petra Delicato” produced by Cattleya for Sky, filmed this spring “which we hope will become a series in the region”, says Bolla, to “Masantonio” another Cattleya production – for Mediaset – which is currently being filmed.