An Adriatic-Ionian macro-region for cinema and audiovisuals: this is the direction in which the countries overlooking the Adriatic have been moving in the course of 2016.
Within the sphere of the Adrion international cooperation program that published a call at the beginning of the year, Puglia has been the leader of a project proposal (Aifinet Adriatic Ionian Filmfund Network Project) that put forward the idea (currently being assessed) of setting up an Adriatic-Ionic regions fund featuring a series of activities from the passing on of good practices to co-production forums, to writing workshops to location scouting.
The National Cinema Center of Albania, directed by Ilir Butka, together with the Albanian Media Desk is working on the project which was also discussed at the Venice Film Festival.
This experience is a ‘spin-off’ of a series of cross-border cooperation projects (involving Italy and Albania and Montenegro, Italy and Greece, and Italy and Croatia), which took shape during the focus on “Il Cinema nella Regione Adriatico Jonica: Territorio- Storie -Politiche” [Cinema in the Adriatic-Ionian Region: Territory – Stories – Policies], staged as part of the Otranto Film Fund Festival, the festival directed by Luciano Schito dedicated to movies made with regional funds which was held in the small town in the Salento area from 15-18 September 2016.
The public and private stakeholders of the various countries involved worked on consultation and individual planning round tables, the results of which were shared at the final plenary session and highlighted many common points.
The focus concluded with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (as part of the IPA AdriaWealth cooperation project) for the creation of an Adriatic Audiovisual Network. “I was very pleased that the signing of the agreement followed along from this line of reasoning which not only threw up some interesting ideas but, above all, a number of cooperation projects that the Puglia Region is interested in supporting particularly in what we consider to be the final stage of the planning for instrumental funds dedicated to Southern Italy”, says Aldo Patruno, director of the Department of cultural and tourism economics
at the Regional Government of Puglia. “We cannot expect” he continues, “that in the future there will be the significant resources dedicated to Puglia that there are now, for this reason we want to invest them well, which for us means building bridges, first and foremost with the cross-border countries of the Adriatic-Ionian macro-region”.
One of the themes running through the three projects is tourism which, as Paolo Vidali, director of the Friuli Venezia Giulia Audiovisual Fund is at pains to specify, should be a ‘default’ result, a collateral effect of audiovisual policies: “Support for cinema and audiovisuals should not be solely aimed at the benefits achieved for tourism but they do exist, they are objective and should be taken into consideration”. Differently, for Emma Barboni of the Emilia Romagna Film Commission, “the topic of tourism is very important for our regions as it can be maximized by audiovisuals, and this features in the Italy-Croatia project, as well as in our regional law”.
Barboni also talked about the need to restore the identity of the Adriatic regions that has been somewhat lost, echoing the call made by Hrvoje Hribar, director of the Croatian Audiovisual Center to place this at the center of the Adriatic project: “When we were young, for us the Adriatic was an immense sea, and the other shore seemed so far away”, Hribar says. “Now, as adults in the global world” he goes on, “we understand that it is a mirror of water that is so muddled, small and vulnerable yet in some way it manages to resist and we can do something with it.
We did not ask what the region or European funds can do for cinema but rather what cinema can do for our regions, how we can use our industries, our audiovisual patrimony and our networks to portray this very vulnerable land.
The story of the Mediterranean has been repeated for 3000 years, there is the sea and the people who live along the coast, then there are the barbarians who arrive from the continent to quash their civilization.
Today in a very sophisticated, ‘digital’ way, the Mediterranean is being ‘threatened’ by Europe, this is what makes our small task so very important: knowing is seeing, and we have to know how to see the Adriatic.” Another recurring point linked to tourism concerns the festivals, in particular the creation of a network of festivals in the countries of the macro-region which should not, repeats Vidali, lead to their further proliferation, as this would cause a dispersion of resources.
A similar warning is issued to the markets by the director of the Euro-Mediterranean Co- production Forum, Alberto La Monica (an itinerant market that contributes to the promotion of the territory. This year it will be held in Trani, from 27 to 29 October):
“The inflation of co-production markets was one of the topics covered at Cinelink which has now become the reference market for Eastern Eu- rope. It is more necessary than ever to have a strong core. Ours involves projects that have 30% of the funding in place, that contain strong elements of the Mediterranean in their story, and that – new for this year – have to be filmed, even only partially, in Puglia. The Region has always supported us with structural funds and, from this year, with the ordinary budget of the Apulia Film Commission”.
All three projects also give space to training, from development to practice, with an eye on new technologies. The project with Greece, in particular, involves, in addition to the Greek Film Centre, the Mediterranean Film Institute which has a broadly consolidated experience in the organization di of writing work- shops, and the Ionian University which has a very active visual arts department.
“Our students make shorts without a budget, without interaction with other countries”, explains Michalis Panagoupoulos, from the Ionian University, “we could think about a co- operation between the universities in Croatia, Albania, Italy, about projects that can unite the various university departments and bring them closer to the market, to the world of production”.
An idea that finds fertile soil in the words of the director of the OFFF, Luciano Schito: “one of the souls of our festival is the university campus for cinema students in collaboration with Unisalento, a training itinerary that we intend to pursue inside the Ionian-Adriatic macro-region, with audience development projects and the diffusion of audiovisual culture”.
Luigi De Luca of the Istituto di Culture Mediterranee also emphasizes that the subject of training is strategic for the Puglia Region, “the regional council has already approved a memorandum of understanding with the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia that includes specific training activities in Puglia which are open to the Mediterranean. The activities of the CSC are no longer solely directed towards the 3 years of institutional training but look towards more targeted experiences to meet the sector’s more specific training requirements. From this point of view the Centro will also be involved as a partner in our projects”.