MIA– Mercato Internazionale dell’Audiovisivo（The International Audiovisual Market in Rome）, which is an ANICA and APT brand and also a product of Fondazione Cinema of Rome, is a collective tool of internationalization that supports the Italian audiovisual industry (a market concerning the industry for the industry). Since 1999 the Udine Far East Film Festival has been the main melting pot for popular Asiatic cinema in Europe. The mutual cooperation between these two organizations has enabled to create this new business platform that plans to strengthen relations between the European and Far East film industries.
MIA Director Lucia Milazzotto speaks to the Chinese Film Market magazine on the partnership with Far East Film Festival and gives good advice to Chinese filmmakers.
Lucia Milazzotto is a key player in Italy’s film industry. Throughout her career, she has worked with some of the most important Italian distributors; she has regularly collaborated with Locarno Film Festival as assistant art director and program coordinator; and she has consulted for European cinema powerhouses including Filmitalia, Eurimages, and Scandinavian world sales agent, The Yellow Affair.
Since 2006, Milazzotto has headed New Cinema Network (NCN), the co-production market of the Rome International Film Festival, which has frequently been recognized as one of Europe’s most vital co-production markets. In year of 2015, Milazzotto added the role of MIA Director to her extensive industry biography.
CFM: This is the first year that MIA is joining hands with Far East film festival. What triggered the cooperation?
LM: We started last year. The idea is to create a new market based on the fact that Italian film and TV producers are building up a system and that they are linking more with not only the talents, which is growing, but also with the international market. The idea is to a new tool, which could support our actions towards the international market. This kind of internationalization is not only to export products of co-productions but also to establish long-term relationships, which helps with the development of a proper strategy towards the market in Europe, Asia and the rest of the world. So we try to structure a concept around which we can reinforce this new process. This is very important to the growth within the system and of independent industry. And the basis of the business is trustful relationship. We think the basis of our work is always a trustful relationship, between talent and production, between partners of a production, between sales agency and distribution. It is all a matter of trust. You need a place where you can reinforce your relationships and create new ones. What is interesting with the cooperation with Udine is that Udine has been building these relationships for many years, by giving a window for Asian genre products in Europe. That is an important step in building that kind of relationship. And we think what we could add to Udine is the possibility of interest. Udine brings expertise and experience in the Asian market while we bring the possibility of business.
CFM: What do you think of this kind of a combination can provide for Chinese film projects and companies in the aspect of international cooperation?
LM: China has been building co-production treaties for years, with Italy included. The matter is to test how it works. In order to understand it, we need moments and appointments in which we can share ideas and business models, which are the basis to understand where the interest and possibilities of cooperation are. With the growth of the industry in both Italy and China, I think Italy can be the bridge, as it has all the connections. The business is based on content. And content leads to its own talents. Both continents have a lot of it. The point is how you interconnect them around the business model that could be efficient for everyone.
The idea of going global shouldn’t be only going local. The business cooperation has to be at global level. And you can only start to do it when you understand how the independent producers around the world work. So I feel this kind of cooperation can first help as a platform where players from various industries can meet and exchange possibilities, ideas, as well as contents. It’s a different kind of approach from a 20-minute market of buying and selling, and ships the idea into a more long-term strategies approach.
CFM: What is your focus to facilitate the cooperation between Chinese and European film projects or companies?
LM: The first is information. We tend not to delivery too much information in our system, and we don’t have enough information about the counterpart system. That creates several locks on the process.
The second thing that would be really helpful is to have everybody around the table in order to understand what kind of co-production can be built, which is not only the usual formula to try to mix up things in order to have it work, but also to have talents work together to work on our targets, which tend to be more and more similar in terms of consumption.
CFM: There are many system differences between Chinese and European film industries. Do you think this is an upside or a downside for the cooperation?
LM: First of all, I really think we don’t know enough about each other. The differences are felt because there are not enough opportunities to go deep. Our markets are anyway built on a fragile thing, which is film. This fragile concept is open to various business models in terms of funding and in terms of distribution. If you look at the different systems in Europe, they are regulated by the European Union. When you listen to producers from very close countries talking about business, you hear completely different approach to how you fund your film. However this market is more and more being structured, which gives you several opportunities on one side and brings to solutions on the other.
What I think what has to become an understanding is how you relate to rights, how you share rights between continents and how you exploit rights. It’s a subject that is more and more going to a global level and the idea of global companies.
In the co-production between the two countries, from the very beginning of pre-productions of agreement negotiation, how you split rights, how to exploit rights, what happens on the set, we don’t know what we can find in China while you don’t know what you can take. These are two completely different worlds in terms of where both parties get fund, what rules to follow. At the moment it’s really a case-by-case situation. I think, in China’s case, both side don’t know what professionals to put on the table of production and post-production. We should understand there’s a process that we can deliver to everyone. We should create more opportunities of information sharing and understand the system before just getting there and try to sell.
CFM: What do you think Chinese companies should do to optimize their presence in international film markets?
LM: It’s a rare case if you can just run into a random producer with a perfect project in, for example, Cannes. The ideal is to try to put similar companies with expertise on your side and from our side to pair right companies together. It’s better to create background knowledge on the two parties, like Who’s Who and someone to help pairing them. That’s why I said we wanted to build up a long-term and trustful relationship to cultivate an understanding and exchange information between the two parties and eventually create something new.
CFM: Which is the Chinese film that had the best box office performance in Italy in the last year?
LM: I don’t know. Because 4 to 5 years ago we can see a lot of Chinese art house films in Italy. But now the market is changing because the TV broadcasters stopped buying these kinds of films. That’s one of the reasons why we want to change the system. We need to diversify the market, not just American or European films.