A region that spans from the Dolomites to the sea, passing through South Tyrol, Trentino and Friuli Venezia Giulia: in the last three years it has been used to film a large number of audiovisual productions, around 200, made up of films, television series and documentaries.
These regions border other European countries – Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia – which explains the high number of co-productions and international productions (around 20%), clearly above the average of other Italian regions.
The activities of the respective film commissions is decisive, the driving force behind audiovisuals in the territory: from the long-lived FVG Film Commission, set up in 2001, to the younger BLS Film Fund & Commission and the Trentino Film Commission which started out in 2010 .
An interesting fact emerges from their activities concerning shared projects over the last three years.
There are around ten of them, not many in relation to the total number of movies filmed in the region, but a significant number since it marks a trend.
The most important title is “Small Ho- meland”, directed by Alessandro Rossetto, which received support from all three Film Commissions, but we should also mention “TIR”, the film directed by Alberto Fasulo, winner of the 2013 Rome Film Festival , “The Best Offer”, the latest movie by Oscar winner Giuseppe Tornatore (shared by the Film Commissions of South Tyrol and Friuli Venezia Giulia), plus the TV dramas “Sposami”, that the Trentino FC supported alongside FVG, and the Austrian movie “Der Stille Berg” again from Trentino with BLS.
“We are three bordering regions, we are confident with bilingual co- productions, and have a natural openness to our neighbors: different languages but similar cultures”, explains Federico Poillucci, president of the FVG Film Commission.
These words also explain his plans to work with the Viba Films Studios in Ljubljana, and the setting up of a cross-border Fund (Re-ACT, launched at the 2014 Venice Film Festival) between Friuli Venezia Giulia, Slovenia and Croatia.
It is no surprise that the Fund set up by South Tyrol’s BLS Film Fund & Commission based on the German model, is naturally oriented towards Germany, Austria and Switzerland: “our geographical, cultural and linguistic vicinity to German-speaking countries has already led us to finance various projects which have also made use of German funds”confirms Christiana Wertz, head of the BLS Film Fund & Commission. The fact that all three film commissions are also used to reasoning in another language has certainly favored the collaboration which is manifested not just through exchanges of information, but also through the proposal of a wider selection of locations to productions, and the prospect of being able to access several different Funds.
According to Luca Ferrario, who heads the Trentino Film Commission along with Laura Zumiani, this centrifugal energy has created “an area of Europe where films are made” that is drawing the attention of professionals (and more), a more independent, unconventional type of cinema.
Ferrario presents the example of “The First Snow” by Andrea Segre, “Zoran, my nephew, the idiot” by Matteo Oleotto, and the already mentioned “TIR” by Alberto Fasulo.
These are projects and stories which have a strong regional slant and have “shown a sense of continuity” over the last couple of years, Ferrario points out, announcing the presence in competition at the next Rome Film Festival of “The Ice Forest” filmed by Claudio Noce in Val di Daone, at the foot of the Adamello mountains.
Putting down roots for audiovisuals in the region takes up a lot of the three Film Commissions’ time.
Work that mainly involves professional updating and retraining which, in Friuli Venezia Giulia, is carried out by the Audiovisual Fund, which is complementary to the Film Fund and directed towards growing local professional skills in Trentino with the Scrivere seriale workshop and, in South Tyrol, with events like Incontri, the co-production meetings with Italian, German, Austrian and Swiss professionals, and “Racconti”, the series of workshops for developing treatments for features and TV series to be set in the region. Whilst at the basis there has to be a “win win situation”, as Christiana Wertz says, i.e. a relationship which is advantageous to all, we cannot go looking for balance in the economic allocations of the Funds, (the South Tyrol Fund is much bigger than the other two); but rather in their ability to expand their offer (“it is better to have 30 movies to divide by three than 5 to keep jealously to yourself ”, says Poillucci); but that is not enough.
“These practices which work and are bringing a lot of satisfaction to all, are based on economic grounds, but”, Ferrario reflects, “will have important long term cultural consequences”.
Poillucci goes further: “The time is right for this collaboration to be for- mailed”, adding a example :“we need to intervene on the regulations, offering rewards to producers who also access the other two Funds”.
Christiana Wertz’s position is more complex: “Already the fact of having received financing from the Trentino and Friuli Venezia Giulia Funds is a positive element for us when evaluating a project, but in order to talk about a collective proposal you first have to sit down and identify and draw up shared strategies. That is an essential step”.
Ferrario would like the construction of a overall proposal to be “tested” first , and indicates an itinerary: “you have to identify the vocation of each region and translate it into an offer of skills to productions that does not overlap with those of the other partners, thus building together a high level overall proposal”.
A “northeast system”? No one likes to talk about that, partly due to the people of this area’s natural aversion to labels, and partly because we do not want to create the image of a cohesive nucleus which is autonomous from the rest of Italy.
In fact, the practices of the three film commissions do not bring to mind an autonomist thrust but rather a desire to stay “within” Europe.
The ideas and, above all, the willpower exist, but both have to cope with their respective administrative bodies and relevant time schedules.
Cinema, once again, is running at a faster pace.