MIA: A Chat with Director Lucia Milazzotto

Mercato Internazionale dell’Audiovisivo (MIA) Director Lucia Milazzotto speaks to SineScreen about the future of Italy’s AV industry 

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 (including Key Films, BIM Distribuzione and Videa); 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. This year, Milazzotto added the role of MIA Director to her extensive industry biography. With the MIA now in full swing, Milazzotto spares a moment to tell us more about the process of developing Italy’s newest audiovisual market and her hopes for the country’s future success. 

So, when did you first begin thinking about revitalising Italy’s audiovisual industry?
Well, actually, it’s been a very long process with a very fast ending. I think the Italian industry has been changing in the approach and results in the past few years very much. We’ve very strongly felt the need to create a platform that could help put us back on the map – back on several maps – not just in terms of audiovisual events, but also on the big negotiation tables of international events. The idea was to build a new platform that would have its own identity, and I think we’ve found it [with the MIA]. We’ve built up what we call a matchmaking boosture, because we really want people to be able to concentrate on relationships and have time to strengthen them. It’s not the typical twenty-minute networking event, but rather, a more relaxed and inspiring way where you can share visions, share experiences and then find the right partners. When you find the right partners, you can build trust, and you build trust when you meet and spend time with people. So we wanted to move out from the usual selling-and-buying thing. And even though we’re presenting over a hundred films and eight TV series, you can still feel in the atmosphere that the MIA is really more of a think-tank where people meet, talk, get to know each other, and find themselves sharing experiences.

At what point do you think Italy become overshadowed by more dominant European audiovisual industries?
We’ve basically been very dominated on one side by French and British content, as well as mostly American content, I would say. We’ve generally been buyers of products, but new sales companies are opening and we hope to have the process reversed.

As you’ve said, the goal is to put Italy back on the map. What has Italy’s cinema – or rather, audiovisual climate – been like for the past few decades?
I mean… Italy has been quite out of the international market for a while, both in terms of majority and minority productions and export. What we do have, fortunately, is great talent. Our talents travel a lot. Now the industry is travelling with them. We’re starting to have huge international projects like Sorrentino’s new series [The Young Pope] or Gomorra, in which big international players are very much involved. We’ve always been an interesting country in terms of talent, and now we’re starting to be interesting in terms of industry. We do think that Italy is starting finally to present itself as a strong system made of interesting and active producers, with great institutions supporting us like the Ministry of Economic Development together with the Ministry of Culture, and that’s what’s making the change. We have several regional funding branches that are really important for the growth of the industry, and the amazing thing is that we’re all working synergically.

When did your idea for the MIA develop, and how long has it taken to organize such a comprehensive market?
Fortunately, it’s taken a very short time – we started in mid July. It’s been extremely short, and it’s been a miracle because we’ve had such support from industry players nationally and internationally, which helped make everything possible. We counted on five boards made of international players like HBO, and there was so much support in helping us shape the market and select the right people that we never felt alone in the process.

How successful do you think the MIA will be in years to come?
We want to have it grow. It was the biggest teaser ever, and it’s still a teaser. We want to grow into several activities.

Are you moving more towards commercial and Hollywood partnerships, or independent?
Independent. We were born into the independent. We are the best independent producers, and we have always been successful in independent cinema. Being Sorrentino or Moretti, that’s our industry. Although I do think Italy has to start putting some good media product on the table, in terms of exportability. I also think that our medium product is becoming more international.

What’s your favourite film?
Oh my gosh. It’s difficult. I’ve seen too many films! I love animation very much. There are so many genres that I love.

Finally, what can Italy can offer the audiovisual industry that other countries cannot?
Italy. We can offer Italy, which is quite a country, in terms of locations, talents, visions, and expertise.

The MIA is currently ongoing in Rome until 20th October 2015. Find out more at http://www.miamarket.it

Melissa Legarda Alcantara

Melissa Legarda Alcantara

Melissa is the editor of SineScreen. She enjoys dark chocolate, film festivals, and finding Freudian undertones where they don't exist. Catch her on Twitter at @melissalegarda.

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