Italy’s Robert Stabile Touts Italy’s Distribution, Locations Promotional Drive at San Sebastian

Italy’s Roberto Stabile, head of special projects, Directorate General for Cinema and Audiovisual-Ministry of Culture at Cinecittà, breezed through the San Sebastian Film Festival on Tuesday to tout Italy’s drive to amp up the distribution of Italian movies around the world.

In a brief presentation at the city’s Museo de San Telmo, he held forth about the plan to increase the presence of Italian audiovisual content not only in cinemas, but also on streaming platforms, online distribution and television, among others. 

Backing Italy’s drive is its newish €1.2 million ($1.27 million) fund, established some years ago by the Italian Ministry of Culture with Cinecittà and the Italian Trade Agency, to boost theatrical distribution of Italian feature films around the world, and which will double to more than €2 million in order to also cover streaming and television. 

The goal of the Italian film distribution fund is to push local producers to make more movies that are congenial for play on foreign markets, including through co-productions that allow film producers to share risk.

Stabile pointed out that over the past three years, Italy’s film distribution fund has been extending to buyers of Italian films the amount of €50,000 ($530,000) for their theatrical releases and €15,000 ($15,900) for their platform distribution, leading to a 112% jump in the circulation of Italian films.  

He also spoke of the drive to increase Italy’s co-production efforts with the Ibero-American market. “We’d like to recover our cooperation with Latin American countries with which we stopped co-producing these past years, with perhaps the exception of Argentina,” he said.

“The exchange of ideas, culture and also financing can only strengthen the cinema of each participating country,” he asserted.

The peripatetic Stabile, who has been on a worldwide tour, also spoke about the drive to promote Italy as a location, thanks to a generous 40% cash back tax credit and other incentives that has already led to a production boom, both local and international. Italian film production has skyrocketed to more than 200 titles a year. While the U.S. has been avidly tapping the incentives, Italy would like to attract more European, Asian and Latin American projects in the future, he said. 

A show reel he screened displayed scenes from “Wonder Woman,” “Mission Impossible,” “House of Gucci” and hit HBO Max television shows led by “Succession” and “The White Lotus,” followed by an impressively long list of all the Oscars Italy has won through the decades, from best international picture to below-the-line fields.

After the U.S., Italy has been the second country to win the greatest number of Oscars, he stressed, attributing this to Italy’s world-class talent and crews. 

In early September, Italy inked a memo of cooperation with Hong Kong, aimed at boosting the distribution of Italian films and with the hope of a future collaboration with the China which, given its political, cultural and economic issues, will not be easy to achieve. 

Furthermore, Italy signed a film co-production agreement with Japan in July, and was the country of honor at Mexico’s Guadalajara Film Festival and at the Berlinale this year. 

Recent Hollywood productions that have flocked to Italy are Roland Emmerich’s gladiator series “Those About to Die,” starring Anthony Hopkins as Emperor Vespasian,Michael Mann’s“Ferrari,” starring Adam Driver and Penelope Cruz, Joe Wright’s Mussolini series “M” and Netflix period soap “The Decameron.”

Meanwhile, Rome’s Cinecittà Studios are generating a profit for the first time in years amid a radical upgrade, overhaul, and expansion of the iconic filming facilities which have been luring Hollywood productions, including “Those About to Die” and “Decameron,” on a scale comparable with their glory days.

The Cinecittà revamp is being devised by CEO Nicola Maccanico who since 2021 has been implementing a plan fueled by a €300 million ($327 million) loan provided by the European Union’s post-pandemic recovery fund and driven by Italy’s ambitions for Cinecittà to go back to being a top European production hub.

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