President Serracchiani, what will audiovisuals represent in the future strategies of the regional government of Friuli Venezia Giulia?
They will play a very important role for our region because this is turning out to be a sector with vast development potential. We intend to actively support it with new policies that have an international slant in order to position ourselves as sector leaders. To confirm our commitment to the sector, I should mention that the FVG region has produced important documents on the subject of state assistance to the movie industry, voted in by the Regional Committee for Cultural Assets, which will be presented to the State Regions Conference, to the government and, in particular, to Minister Bray.
How do you imagine the re-launch of the Film Commission will be?
It is important to re-finance and re-configure this organization through multiple actions: a consolidation process that will take at least three years, new legal-administrative systems and, finally, the repositioning of the fund at a strategic structural level. In the FVG region we believe it is important to go beyond the concept that restricts Film Commissions to being organizations that only have an effect on territorial marketing, emphasizing their broader role in planning and cross-border collaboration on a European level.
What do you think about the presence of “Zoran, my nephew the idiot” at the Venice Film Festival?
This movie is about a border area where the borders no longer exist. It is simply yet another sign of the path we should follow and a natural development towards our most significant pool of regional, cultural and economic collaborations. The production history of the region depends in part on the potential we are able to offer in these areas (Slovenia, Croatia and Carinthia). For this reason, we have entered into some very important collaborations with policies that harmonize the areas, sourcing and highlighting their specific qualities.
The news is that the Friuli Venezia Giulia Film Commission will return to work just like – and even better than – before. News that is not really news if we consider that a strong, decisive re-launch of the Film Commission’s expertise and resources had already been promised by President Serracchiani in the spring, during the election campaign, and was repeated in her inaugural speech before the Regional Council.
From this year, the mess created by the previous administration which, following the events surrounding Marco Bellocchio’s movie “Sleeping Beauty”, transferred the Film Commission’s duties to the FVG Tourism Agency, will be formally cleared up.
“From a technical viewpoint”, explains Gianni Torrenti, the new Councilor responsible for Culture at the Regione Friuli Venezia Giulia, “all we have to do is reinstate the original law, canceling the amendments made by the previous administration, and give the FVGFC back its au- tonomy and dignity within the law on cinema”. It shouldn’t take long, the process is expected to be completed by mid-September.
The legal structure of the Film Commission led by Federico Poillucci (a cultural association) will remain unchanged, but the convention with the regional administration will have a three year duration, “in the sense that”, underlines the Councilor, “every year the one at the end will be added on so that the scheduling can always have a three year goal”. Torrenti does not talk about help or support, but investment. The objective of the three year cadence is: “to offer a broader context”, which is useful “not just for the implementer”, he explains, “but also for the programmer”. With regard to investment, the resources available to the Film Fund will also be considerably increased “to around a million Euros”, suggests Torrenti, but this will be decided in the next Finance Act so the money will not be available until 2014.
“We want more productions and not just bigger productions. More productions means a more widespread promotional mechanism in the region; TV movies are as important as those considered to be of a higher cultural level”. The secret is in the balance and it is obvious that “by increasing the number, it is easier to find the right balance, thus becoming generally more attractive”.
The key word is “development”, and times are changing in the north- east as well. “With the manufacturing crisis, at the moment the Friuli Venezia Giulia region has a fragile economy and we have to find other sectors of intervention. Rather than blindly groping around, we have to find products with clear added value”, explains Torrenti, illustrating the path traced by President Serracchiani: “Here we have something extra: it is a border area with a good knowlege of foreign legislation and languages, a close relationship with Slovenia, Croatia and Carinthia. We have regulatory tools that have so far only been used to promote our companies or provide incentives for incoming business”.
Now the perspective has been overturned: the east is no longer seen as a competitor to be feared in terms of costs, but as a partner in a production process.
“The future,” continues Torrenti, who is also responsible for international relations, “lies in coherent and coordinated interventions which involve European regional resources and high profile training mechanisms.
We should not forget that, as a region, we have strategic interests in Serbia and Croatia, therefore I am only relatively worried about delocalization.
With our banking tools in Italy we are Serbia’s primary partner, and this makes it possible for us to be a point of reference on a production level even by lowering costs: by working in partnership with companies in these countries we can, for example, use their places as sets, and offer them greater professional expertise”.
On the eve of Croatia’s entry into the European Union, Friuli VeneziaGiulia is already considerably ahead of the game: “Our region is a point of reference for Croatian hotel owners because they need art cities and shopping centers. So tourism on the Croatian coast needs us, and we need their labor costs. So let’s try not to be hesitant or jealous, but be an active subject that both gives and receives”.
Has this region’s Central European vocation returned? “We are Central Europeans but with hot water”, jokes Torrenti, clarifying: “in the sense that we have a Mediterranean imagination and identity”
Could this vocation lead to the setting up of a cross-border Fund, an idea that is dear to the Film Commission’s director, Federico Poillucci? Gianni Torrenti does not rule it out, but for the moment he limits him- self to confirming the easterly course.