This is how we imagine them: foreign tourists wandering around the streets of our small towns and cities stopping to admire buildings, squares and churches that would never have attracted their and our attention if a director hadn’t immortalized them in the frame of some film.
They arrive in big and small groups, the nationality of which coincides with the release of the film in their country, and they have special requests, like being able to take a bike ride or see places that do not actually exist because they are the fruit of theatrical fiction.
They become even more evident when they follow routes which in the past never witnessed particularly significant levels of tourism. Some local administrations offer dedicated services like audio-guides or special guided tours, or even go so far as to recreate the atmosphere of the sets that had so captured their imagination.
Today we call them movie tourists, but they are the children of a phe- nomenon that has existed since the dawn of cinema, creating an indis- soluble link between the regions and the seventh art.
It is a phenomenon that is difficult to quantify as it is impossible to discover the reasons why we travel, though movie tourism has, in certain illustrious cases, made the fortune of some regions.
For example, we cannot fail to see a relationship of cause and effect in the increase in visitors to Crema, a municipality of 34,000 inhabitants in the province of Cremona. This small town in Lombardy has been literally invaded in recent months by fans of Oliver (Armie Hammer) and Elio (Timothée Chalamet), the stars of Luca Guadagnino’s Oscar winning movie “Call me by your name”, an Italian product in terms of the director and setting but which can be counted among the international productions that have returned to film in our “Bel Paese”.
This was an almost unexpected success for the Municipality which took on an expenditure of € 20,000 for the filming, as a contribution to the production, in order to remove the road signs and recreate the atmosphere of 1983 in the center using vintage cars and the open air bar in Piazza Duomo where the two protagonist enjoy some refreshments after their long bike ride around the Cremona countryside.
An investment that has been fruitful and brought 7,000 visitors to the city, from January to July, exceeding in just 7 months the total number for 2017. Almost 1,100 of these tourists explicitly stated that they had visited the city for reasons linked to the movie.
There are no limits: where once upon a time cinema used the monuments of Rome or the canals of Venice to represent Italy, today, also thanks to the work of the film commissions, the Italian presence abroad is a lot more varied.
Themyscira from “Wonder Woman” comes to mind, in the last American blockbuster dedicated to the most famous of the Amazonians (2017). The island is a mixture of coastal area in southern Italy, in Campania, Basilicata and Puglia: Palinuro and Marina di Camerota in Cilento, Ravello on the Amalfi Coast, Mattinata, Vieste and Castel del Monte in Puglia and the Sassi di Matera in Basilicata.
Or again, more recently, there are the numerous sets that contributed to heating up the past Italian summer: “Six Underground” by Michael Bay, a high tension thriller that, after Ron Howard’s “Inferno”, brought a big international production to Florence, or the spy story “Murder Mystery” by Kyle Newacheck, which stars Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler, filmed in Santa Margherita Ligure and Genova, and on Lake Como.
So at last the beauties of Italy are traveling around the world again through cinema. Something that is destined to increase thanks to the arrival of the facilitations provided by the new Italian Cinema Law. The merit, thus, of a policy of tax incentives that includes the new tax credits and investments put in place by the State and regions and a renewed interest in the seventh art on the part of institutions.
So it is not a coincidence that foreign productions began to rise again in Italy in the first six months of 2018 and that, in the same period of time, the tax credits granted to foreign productions equaled the sum of the amounts paid out in 2016 and 2017.
The Italy for Movies (www.italyformovies.it) project was created within the sphere of this policy and in the belief that the image of a country is largely attributable to cinema.
Sealed in January 2017 following the signing of the memorandum of understanding by the General Cinema and Tourism Directorates of the MiBACT [Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Ac- tivities and Tourism], which became MiBAC (Italian Ministry of Cultural Assets and Activities] by means of Decree Law no. 86 dated 12/07/2018, which transferred all the functions and responsibilities concerning tour- ism to the Ministry of Agricultural and Forestry Policies).
This initiative led to the creation of a national portal for Italian and foreign producers and directors with the strategic objective of intercepting the growing flow of investment from abroad and increasing the attractiveness and visibility of our regions from a tourism viewpoint through theatrical and audiovisual productions.
The technical and organizational management of the project was entrusted to Istituto Luce-Cinecittà which avails itself of the collaboration of the Film Commissions operating in the various regions, in agreement with other Ministries and competent institutions.
The portal consists of four information sections.
The first, Locations, allows professionals to access the “best of ” our unique and varied patrimony of roads, squares, buildings, churches, monuments and beautiful landscapes; divided according to the individual regions, it can be consulted through a search engine organized into dynamic categories such as regional position, type of location, classification of buildings and sites, historical period, environmental details, organizational contacts.
The second section is a guide to the Incentives: this section makes it possible for producers, with the help of data sheets, to find their way around the various regional, national and international funding opportunities available and to learn about the facilities offered by the film commissions to make filming easier.
The Movies & game Map presents the places used for movies filmed in Italy and the videogames that have been set there; it contains photo galleries, videos, references to the websites of the productions and to those of the places mentioned and links to the regional tourism portals; completing the map are some original themed itineraries for enthusiasts.
And finally the News section contains updates on the topics presented on the other pages of the website (open sets, new incentives, movie tourism figures etc.).
The portal, available in Italian and English, is constantly being updated: to date it contains data sheets on around 1,400 locations, 84 regional, national and international incentives, around 400 descriptions of film venues and the news page which is updated 2-3 times a week.
This is, therefore, a very useful tool in the hands of professionals, for anyone, Italian or foreign producers who choose our locations or are attracted by the facilitations offered by the regions. For example, if a director needs to film in a medieval square or in front of the façade of a palazzo or a Baroque church, he or she can consult a broad database in which, alongside the individual places, it is possible to find out the references, geographical position, any incentives associated with the same, enter the portals and navigate the film commissions’ location guides.
But Italy for Movies is also dedicated to enthusiasts, to those who love traveling around the locations used for movies, or those who stay in their seats in the movie theater until the very last credits have rolled in the hope that they will be able to glimpse references to the places visited in some frames, or simply those who are curious and want to know where the drama they saw on TV or the movie they saw at the pictures was filmed.
Movie tourists, who more or less consciously travel purposely or add their favorite locations to their wider travel schedule.
Italy for Movies is an ambitious project that, using new technology, including social networks and increasingly advanced instruments, aims to take Italy back to its past splendor, when we used to export the Italian cinema model abroad, and our movie industry attracted producers, directors and international stars.
Let us not forget that blockbusters of the caliber of “Quo Vadis?” (1951) and “Ben Hur” (1959), contributed to creating the legend of Cinecittà, the “dream factory” that was to provide employment for generations of craftsmen, extras and employees and which today, having passed the eighty year mark, appear to have been born again.
People used to come to Italy to discover the places of the “Dolce vita” or to retrace the footsteps of Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck along the alleys of the capital in “Roman Holiday”.
Over the years many directors have chosen the beauties of our country and told the world about them, from Woody Allen to Mel Gibson to mention just two.
Italy for Movies intends to offer an additional showcase, providing, in a single place, all the information that could be useful to movie tourists and professionals, referring them to the portals and relevant institutions for further information. Demonstrating that cinema remains the most extraordinary instrument for promoting our country.