direttore Paolo Di Maira

INDUSTRY BOOKS/The Participants’ Comments


I met the publishers of “Scusate la polvere”, “Stealing Fire”, “100 Microns” and “Almodis the Peaceweaver”.
“Scusate la polvere” is the book that struck me the most because it is a cynical, black comedy and at the moment I am getting a lot of these sorts of scripts.
At this point in time cynicism can be seen as a way out of the current climate of difficulty and depression.
“100 Microns” interests me because it is a topical story with commercial potential.
“Stealing Fire” would be more of an international and commercial action movie.
I think that an adaptation is an interesting possibility that offers a short cut for screenplays.
I always worked with original screenplays when I made “Tropa de elite” and “El Artista”.
When I optioned “News of a Kidnapping” by Garcia Marquez it was almost impossible to adapt, to cut Garcia Marquez.
Last year I was very struck by “La Battuta Perfetta” by Minimum Fax, that I discovered thanks to Industry Books, but in the end it was too long and difficult to adapt.
However, this book (“100 Microns”) seems to be more feasible.

A personal meeting is much more useful than a pitch or a general presentation for understanding things better or examining certain points in a more informal way.
For this reason I thought it was good that we moved beyond the pitch phase held last year.
I work a lot with British people, so I am mainly here for the British books “¦ but you never know: I like to be well-informed about what is on the market.
I thought the selection was very varied and interesting, I liked two or three of the titles and think they have cinematographic potential.
It would be interesting to follow the evolution of these meetings and get some feedback from the organizers, to be able to follow the “life” of the books, because some of them have not yet been published and others have not yet been translated”¦.

I met with the two biggest publishers at the event, Mondadori and Agenzia Letteraria Internazionale, not just because of the books they were presenting but because it was an opportunity for us producers to make contact with publishers.
I wanted to establish a relationship that could continue to move forward in the future.
It is another ways to present yourself and I brought DVDs of our movies to the publishers I met, arthouse movies that have been a success with the public but that they might not have seen, so that they can get an idea of our film-makers and maybe one day come looking for them if they come across a suitable title.
I was interested in the novel presented by Mondadori but with regard to ALI I was more interested in the quality of their work because the book presented was a costume drama which is not the sort of thing we want.
Unfortunately I didn’t have time to meet Minimum Fax which was a shame because I was very interested in their novel “100 Microns” and I will probably read it and maybe contact them directly.
The selection was very good, every novel had something that made it potentially suitable for cinema.
Unfortunately what also counts when you turn a novel into a film is its literary success.
There weren’t any famous authors around, but I understand that, on these occasions, you have to make space for people who are less well known.

I think that the selection was good and of high quality, but I am curious to know what else had been available because I would have liked a more varied choice.
These meetings always have a dual function: on the one hand, proper scouting and, on the other, making contacts, particularly personal ones with people we communicate with all year round by e-mail.
It is also a chance to get to know the publishers’ catalogues.
This year, since I have only been involved in television, things are a bit simpler and I can skim off most of the projects because the selection mainly refers to cinema whereas I am looking for things that can be serialized, at most made into a TV movie.
I am looking for crime series possibly targeting a female audience or one-offs like mini-series, biopics about important historical figures or focusing on the Italian national-popular imagination.
As I said last year, it would be useful to have a “publishing previews market”, many publishers already do this, offering highlights of future releases.

We had two appointments and were interested in making contact with two publishers. We are mainly looking for comedies but are open to other genres too.
It was a useful day because we work with literary agents but it is also important to be able to contact publishers directly.
We met Minimum Fax (“100 Microns”) and Impress Books (“Almodis, the Peaceweaver”).
Minimum Fax had a number of titles on offer including “La Futura Classe dirigente” by Peppe Fiore which was in last year’s selection.

There are products, like “Stealing Fire”, that could be interesting for a company like ours which has an international profile, not so much in terms of producing the movie directly but passing it on to potential co-producers who have the strength to make this type of product.
Having said that, I was a bit surprised that there were no books with a very strong concept and thus potential successes.
What I mean is that they were all books that needed a pathway to be constructed, possibly linking them to a certain type of film-maker.
And a lot of them were books that are not easy from a structural viewpoint because, for example, “Il Libero regno dei ragazzi” has a very interesting concept but it would be difficult to turn it into a movie.
It is also true that many of the books dealt very topical subjects such as “100 Microns”, about assisted fertility treatment, a topic that is very much in the air, a social phenomenon that is much bigger than we realize.
It is not a coincidence that Mondadori also has a book that was not presented here but that tackles the same subject and will be published soon.
I had already read “Esche vive” because we work with several Tuscan writers (we produced Paolo’s last movie and the one by Carlo Virzì), and I really liked it although it is not easy to adapt.
However, I expected to find something more earth-shattering on a topical subject or a box office record ripping comic concept, but there wasn’t.
Maybe this editorial direction was taken on purpose to create opportunities for book typologies that have literary quality but are more difficult to discover.
It is also true that the strongest titles fly straight onto the shelves of the production companies, making things difficult even from the publisher’s point of view.
So this is the perfect occasion for showcasing products that have literary power and can be adapted but that would not normally be chosen because they are a bit more complicated.

I come to Rome every year because I think it is a particularly suitable market for attracting European productions, a very informal forum where you can make business deals.
I was asked to come to Rome a day early for Industry Books and I think it was a good idea seeing as I am always looking for stories. There are a couple of titles that I think are very interesting. I have a new production company (Neo Art) in Barcelona but until now I have worked for lots of big Spanish companies, producing important international movies.
In fact, two of the movies I am currently working on are based on novels, one is called “Concrete Island”, directed by Brad Anderson, with whom I filmed “The Machinist” with the same leading actor, Christian Bale, and “The Mapmaker’s Wife”, based on Robert Whitaker’s bestseller.
I am mostly looking for thrillers and contemporary movies, but I am not afraid of tackling a historical novel.

We liked it a lot, we had many interesting meetings which offered us the chance to discuss the real needs of publishers and producers and to better understand the opportunities books can offer”¦ We often start off with a book, like with “Montalbano”, our most successful example. Now we are filming “Acciaio”.
Particularly interesting were the books by Elvira Seminara (“Scusate la polvere”) and Fabio Genovesi ( “Esche Vive”), as well as some of the other proposals that emerged from the catalogues of the people we met. The day was organized very well, the meetings flowed easily.
We have well-tested relationships with some publishers but despite this we are willing to expand, to discover new writers, to open ourselves up to new working scenarios.

This is the first time we have attended an event of this kind. Nowadays 70% of the movies made in Italy are based on novels.
We have worked a lot with books, from “Gli Sfiorati” to “Quando la notte”.
Independent producers are not very happy about Rai Cinema interfering directly with the product, but obviously members of the trade are curious about these things, and it is very useful for understanding trends.
I felt that this year’s selection was less varied than last year.
We mainly focused on authors, Genovesi ( “Esche vive”) because we really liked his first novel, although this one is a bit more complex, and genres, such as for example Davide Morosinotto (“Il libero regno dei ragazzi”), because we have wanted to make a kids’ movie for a long time.
This is a very useful initiative for Rai Cinema and not just for independent producers.
Often film-makers and producers ask us to tell them about a book because you can no longer find screenwriters of the caliber of Age & Scarpelli (Editor’s note: the stage name of a famous Italian screenwriting duo) and there are very few original screenplays; now the director is no longer the author.
Considering that nowadays movies only have a “theater life” of just over two weeks, it helps enormously to have the backing of the strong marketing of the famous novel on which your movie is based..
We are bringing out “Someday this pain will be useful to you” at the end of February, and between the film festival and its release we will be working with bookstores and agents so that the former can become an additional marketing tool, as they have a similar public to that of movies.
Industry Books could be expanded, also because for us from the world of cinema it is a problem that the Turin Book Fair, the most important literary event in Italy, is held at the same time as the Cannes Film Festival.
I would turn Industry Books into a longer, bigger, more international event. Finally, it would be a good idea if something like a “school bell” could be rung to mark the end of each meeting.

The books that interested me the most were “Stealing Fire” and “100 Microns”.
I am also interested in kids’ stories because we are moving towards that genre.
We mainly make arthouse movies where the director normally writes the screenplay, so we tend to work on original story-lines, but now we are also trying to go down the adaptation route and that is why we came to Industry Books.
Last year we just brought a project to New Cinema Network. I have to say that the organization of the market has greatly improved.
Thanks to NCN we were contacted for Industry Books and I am very pleased about that because otherwise I would never have found out about this event.


VALENTINA BALZAROTTI – ALI (Nothing is more whole than a broken Heart)

I didn’t just talk about the book that was presented because, as I am a literary agent, I handle a lot of titles. I presented other books, except in the case of a Serbian producer who was only interested in the title selected because it could lead to a co-production with his country. This is an excellent opportunity to make contact with people that it would otherwise be difficult to meet.
The last edition was very useful, we sold the film rights to Nicola Lecca’s novel “Hotel Borg” published by Mondadori to producer Kees Kasander, which also wasn’t the title selected for the pitch.
This year there has been quite a lot of interest and I think that is a good thing as it helps us to find our way around better because to me the world of Italian cinema seems to be a rather closed environment. Companies open up and close down, and sometimes it is difficult to understand who you are working with when you get a proposal to purchase rights.

The number of Italian authors using agencies has risen. In the past most of them had direct contact with the publishing company which also handled all the rights.
Our agency is quite young, we started having Italian authors just a couple of years ago and we usually keep the movie rights for ourselves. We have just started making contact with the world of movies. Getting access to the movie market is very interesting because I don’t know it very well.
Cinema can give a book a “second life”.
I also think it is very important for the writers themselves to be able to witness the transformation of their story.
In fact, I think it is interesting to bring two different interlocutors together: the publishing world and that of audiovisual productions.
I don’t know how productive it is to restrict the number of titles each publisher can present.
I think it would offer a broader picture if the meeting were focused on the catalogues.
Having said that, I think the work carried out on selecting these projects and bringing them here was admirable, but I don’t know if all these efforts will be repaid because producers are looking for very diverse things.
Another limit of this type of approach is that once a book has been selected for Industry Books it can no longer be promoted and the sale of the rights for the same is blocked for several months (in the case of this year, since May).

IDA FORNASIER – EDIZIONI EL (The free Kingdom of the young Ones)
I thought this was a great synergic initiative.
This was the first time for us and I thought it was great to be able to share stories because although producers and publishers have different perspectives, in the end we are still talking about stories.
The book we presented acts as a kind of cue to talking about other subjects, or even a “spin off”, in the sense that the book could lead to the creation of a video game for example.
The novel we presented is part of a series (“˜Cartabianca’), launched in March this year, and aimed at the 12-14 year age group which is lacking an organic book series.
The kids in this age group, defined as “young adults”, no longer get books to read from school but are not yet ready to go out and buy them for themselves, so it is a bit of a middle area.
We were looking for a realistic style of writing that talked about things kids are interested in such as new languages.
For this reason, “Il regno libero dei ragazzi” was particularly suitable, using Facebook, for example, mixed with the subject of the Unification of Italy, brigands and kids’ gangs, which have not been discussed in literature for a long time.
It encourages the reader to reflect on certain universal themes: even though the book is set in Salento, the territorial dimension has only a relative importance.
There are some good characterizations (the farm, the mayor..). We were very pleased about the interest shown by the Rai, Lux Vide, independent producers”¦
It was a very constructive day, as well as bench test for the book itself. It was also a chance to talk about the other books in the series (there are now ten), which is written by a group of kids, all friends, who belong to a kind of “factory” called “Immergenti”, and who write stories.
They live in different parts of Italy and use Dropbox to share their stories and edit them.
One of our titles that has been made into a movie is “Jimmy della Collina” by Massimo Carlotto, that also won a prize at Locarno.

The book I am promoting would be a high budget movie, but it has still aroused some interest.
A couple of independent producers who were not personally interested in my book, gave me some advice as well as the names of other producers who they thought would be interested.
It was very useful.
They told me it could work well as an historic series for the BBC.
I think it would be useful to organize a small briefing on how to do a pitch or how to address an audience of cinema and audiovisual professionals.

TAMSIN BALLARD – IMPRESS BOOKS (Almodis the Peaceweaver)
This is the first time that I have handled the sale of a film for cinema, but everybody seemed to be very open and willing to give advice.
I was asked whether the author would be willing to collaborate on the screenplay, if I saw the story as a movie, TV series or even a documentary: they truly opened my eyes to a world that I didn’t know and the variety of possibilities available.
I love this book a lot and I think it would make a perfect movie.
It is the story of a very independent woman in the Middle Ages: wonderful costumes, marvelous locations, I can see it all in my head already.
It is a very long story so it could easily be divided into three parts for a television series.
I think that the network created at Industry Books is a fantastic initiative.

There was quite a lot of interest in “100 Microns”.
I know that there are similar stories going around at the moment but this is the only one that tackles the subject from a scientific viewpoint, as well as the problems that can arise between human desire and the limits of science.
Usually people concentrate more on the dynamics of the couple’s relationship.
Industry Books is an important opportunity for creating contacts.
We believe in it a lot and find it very interesting.
For us it is important to have these institutional events in order to be able to speak to producers.
The fact that this opportunity arose has also made it possible for us to dust off some of the older titles in our catalogue that we feel are particularly suitable for cinema, or titles based on collections of short stories that might be invisible to a producer.
I think the event has improved a lot with respect to last year both because the collective pitch has been eliminated and because it was held on a working day.
I also think this year’s titles are stronger and more filmable than last year.

I had lots of meetings, more than last year.
I also think that there were more producers around.
There is a lot of interest, especially because you can propose other titles if the one presented is not of interest.
I hope to be able to get an adaptation out of this.
It is a good thing that they have eliminated the pitch phase because with that system people did not memorize the stories, as they were given too much information all at once.
Also not everyone is able to present a story in an engaging way.
With this method you tell the story to one person at a time and adjust your narration according to the producer’s requirements.
I think that producers are mainly looking for comedies.
“Esche Vive” could be a comedy, but on a higher level, more like a “coming-of-age” story, a bit in the style of Virzì.
There was more interest on the part of Italian producers, even if it is a universal story which just happens to be set in Tuscany.
Last year some producers were interested in our story but in the end they didn’t option the rights.
I am used to that: generally speaking, out of a hundred titles proposed, we only sign a contract for 10 of them.
It is, however, worth organizing this type of event because it is essential for these two worlds to meet each other, also because if you go into a bookstore there is too much on offer and you cannot really understand things.
Last year we made contact with producers that resulted in the establishment of a working relationship and an option.

The staff of Industry Books did an excellent job in preparing the event because the producers had already seen the catalogues and already had quite clear ideas, so we were able to immediately cut to the chase in our discussions.
Our title aroused a lot of interest, and the organizers confirmed this, because it could be turned into a really good comedy.
I was asked several times if it would be possible to film it somewhere else or if it had to be filmed in Sicily.
The organizers asked us to also send them some material about some of our other titles.
I don’t know if this material got to the producers in the end but, in any case, the meetings were very satisfactory.
For future editions I think it would be a good idea to expand the event and also lengthen the pitch phase which I think is essential.
It should be highlighted more because it is a way to quickly get to people who have just arrived and haven’t had a chance to read the material.
It might also be better to have two alternating voices instead of just a journalist presenting all the titles together, to avoid giving the impression of a monologue.

This is the first time I have come to this type of event and I found it very interesting.
Internet, videogames and detective stories have greatly influenced my writing and it is, therefore, obvious that I was thinking about a film version of my novel while I was writing it.
The story takes place in London, Paris, Moscow, Dubai and Western Africa, so it is particularly suitable for a co-production, although it wouldn’t be necessary for it to be filmed in all the locations that appear in the book.
I was talking to the German producer Philipp Worm about the possibility of changing locations, I would be quite happy about that.
With regard to the organization, I think it would be useful to have a bit of “coaching” and some preliminary advice, especially for people who, like me, have never spoken to or worked with a film producer before.

ELIANA CORRADO – SCRITTURA&SCRITTURE (King of “Bastoni”, standing up)
There was a lot of curiosity amongst the producers, a frantic search for something original.
There was also a certain amount of difficulty, at least for small, independent publishing houses like ours, that have been rather snubbed by film producers in the past.
Now they are opening up more, maybe due to the widespread crisis, but also thanks to initiatives like this.
We are used to a language that is more literary and different from theirs: the producers pointed that out to us straight away, but in any case, the impression I got was very positive.
In addition to the novel selected, which is a mystery, we also presented an historical thriller, set in the 1500s, which will have a sequel.

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