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7 March 2017

Italian Films Abroad: An Interview with Carla Cattani from FilmItalia

Italian Films Abroad: An Interview with Carla Cattani from FilmItalia

On the last day of Cinema Made In Italy, we spoke with Carla Cattani from FilmItalia, one of the organisers of this Italian Film Festival. She gives insights about Italian contemporary film trends, the planning and organisation of the festival and future projects.

ICC: How did Cinema Made In Italy come to life as a project? What is the purpose of the festival?

The idea of starting an Italian film festival in London arose when Italian films became more popular at the London Film Festival between the 1990s and 2000s. In addition, during these years, British film distributors started to present Italian films in the cinemas all over the UK again; this wouldn’t have happened in previous years when the interest for Italian cinema was less widespread. We started noticing that, step by step, the interest was shifting towards  Italian cinema and it was worthwhile to encourage it even more. Italian Film Festivals had already been successful in New York and Tokyo, and while managing these ones, we organised the Film Festival in London. It is now part of a series of prestigious international events and it aims to celebrate and promote Italian films. This year is the seventh edition of Cinema Made In Italy and we have encountered an increasingly positive response year after year.

ICC: When did you get involved in the project, and what is your exact role?

I’ve been responsible for the promotion of Italian cinema abroad for 17 years. Every European country has its own public organisation which aims to promote their film industry abroad. For instance, there is UniFrance in France, while in Italy it is FilmItalia, which is part of Istituto Luce Cinecittà. I took this role 17 years ago, after managing one section of Venice Film Festival for 4 years. In the past, I have distributed plenty of films, after graduating in History of Cinema from The University of Rome, La Sapienza.

ICC:  What is the process like each year to make Cinema Made In Italy happen? Do you have a team that works on it all year-round?

There is a team of 12 people, each one has a specific area of expertise which they have developed over the years working with us. Working both at the BFI London Film Festival in October and Cinema Made In Italy there is Annabella Nucara, whose role involves establishing a connection, a bridge between the two festivals. In addition, we have Griselda Guerrasio and Monique Catalino, who organise and plan the events in the UK.  Regarding the selection of films, every year we choose a different person who will judge the appropriate films to bring in the UK.  We usually select a prestigious Italian film critic from one of the major newspapers in Italy. In the past, for example, we had critics from Corriere Della Sera, Messagero, Repubblica, and Stampa. This year, the film critic is Maurizio Di Rienzo. He is a skilled film journalist, who won Nastri D’Argento, the most prestigious award for film review and criticism in Italy.

ICC: Which criteria have been adopted to select the films at Cinema Made In Italy?

The aim is to create a festival of festivals. Despite significant differences, international film festivals select the participants based on their ability to appeal to an international audience. I am referring to those films that  not only echo in the hearts and minds of their local audience, but also go beyond their national borders. Such are, for instance, the films showing at Cannes Film Festival. If we consider the films showing this year at Cinema Made In Italy, 7 minutes and At War With Love come from Rome, Ears from Venice, and Pericles The Black from Cannes. The Battle of Algiers is close to my heart because even though it was first released in the 1960s, now that its restored version is out in cinemas, it is still like the first time. It is absolutely a contemporary film, a masterpiece, which won Leone D’oro at the Venice Film Festival in 1966. I wish that, like today with the screening completely sold out, it will be well-received by the audience. It is a classic because, despite the years that have passed by, it is still very contemporary and suited for modern times.

ICC: You mentioned the BFI London Film Festival before. How does it work? How did you select the Italian films and directors to take part in the festival?

In order to select the films, Adrian Wootton, Film London CEO, comes to Italy every July. He sits and watches Italian films for about three/four days, and he has become a great expert on Italian Cinema over the years. He scrutinises the most recent Italian film productions. In addition, he has the chance to see the work in progress on projects that are likely to be presented at Venice Film Festival.

ICC: Last but not least, are there any new projects you are working on? Can you tell us more about new collaborations to bring Italian films to the UK?

We have started a new project just this year. It is called Italia Film DOC, and it is organised as a series of events introducing four documentaries in collaboration with London College, the University of London. Our role is to present these brand new short documentaries in London. The project was brought to life, following the international success of a new Italian film genre, a hybrid between a feature film and a documentary. As examples, we can take into account The Mouth of the Wolf (La Bocca del Lupo, 2009) by Pietro Marcello and Fire at Sea (Fuocoammare, 2016) by Gianfranco Rosi, which was nominated for the Academy Award this year and has already won at the Berlin Film Festival. We support this emerging genre among the Italian filmmakers and this is why we thought to present Italia Film DOC as a new project: a new documentary screened every two months inside the London College.

Cinema Made In Italy 2017 took place from 1st - 5th of March at Cinè Lumière in London.
In addition, FilmItalia will contribute to BFI London Film Festival 2017, from 4th-15th of October.

Interview by Elena Losavio

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