As a week of screenings at the Venice Film Festival winds up and the industry moves to Toronto, Italian titles are likely to be a focal point of year’s traditional festival migration.
That is because seven Italian films will be on this year’s Toronto roster compared to three last year, across sections.
Ferzan Ozpetek’s Rome-set family drama Perfect Day has opened here to warm critical reception before its North American debut next week.
Rai Cinema’s chief Caterina D’Amico says Perfect Day’s appeal hinges on its ‘universal’ qualities. ‘It could be set anywhere,’ she says of Ferzan Ozpetek’s first production with Domenico Procacci’s Fandango.
‘It is a universal story of solitude inside more than one family.’
In other sections, Horizons opened with the directorial debut of Marco Pontecorvo’s Bucharest-set Pa-Ra-Da, the true story of the Franco-Algerian clown Miloud Oukili. It is also the first production Marco Valerio Pugini’s Panorama films, a well-known facilities operation in Rome.
Venice’s critic’s week sidebar has un-spooled another directorial debut that is catching attention. Umberto Pasolini’s Machanis based on the true story of slum-dwelling Sri Lankans who pose as the national handball team in order to immigrate to Europe before disappearing.
Beta Films Dirk Schuerhoff picked up Pa-Ra-Da and Machan before Venice and said that after the launch here, each film has generated interest from more than two-dozen distributors.
He specified that Pa-Ra-Da has solicited interest from the US, Germany and Spain among other territories. He expects to be able to announce the first sales shortly after Toronto kicks off.
‘We got a lot of emails from all around the world that the films sound great and they want to see them in Toronto,’ he said. ‘People are absolutely looking for the press from Venice, there’s no doubt about that. You immediately realize that when you are contacted by a big US distributor the chance is high that he read a review (from Venice).’
‘We received some fantastic reviews at Venice and the reaction of the industry and public has swept over to the States,’ he explained but says the atmosphere in Venice among buyers is enjoyable and relaxed.
While many have criticized Venice’s selection and high costs this year, Scheurhoff conceded that without a film at Venice, industry players are less likely to attend, but he says the atmosphere here remains ‘unique.’
‘At Venice, buyers just go to watch films, not to immediately negotiate like in Cannes and Berlin. It’s great but we wouldn’t just go to Venice if we can see the film a week later in Toronto.’