The International Rome Film Festival’s industry initiatives New Cinema Network and The Business Street are well-liked by producers and financiers; Screen also previews the NCN projects including Paddy Considine’s new film.

When the International Rome Film Festival (Oct 27-Nov 4) launched in 2006, its organisers envisioned a city festival with popular appeal, similar to Berlin or Toronto, with the right business initiatives to appeal to the international film industry.

Six years on, the festival line-up of mostly European premieres is a big sell to Roman audiences. In 2010, ticket sales hit 118,000 (comparable to the 123,000 sold at the London Film Festival that year). This month the festival is opening with Luc Besson’s Aung San Suu Ky biopic The Lady, starring Michelle Yeoh, which is screening out of competition, and will close with a digitally restored 4k version of Breakfast At Tiffany’s. World premieres include Roberto Faenza’s Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You.

Attendees at Rome’s industry events, The Business Street (TBS) market and New Cinema Network (NCN) co-production showcase, are also steadily growing year-on-year. In 2010, total accreditations to TBS hit 792, up 10% on the previous year, including 309 buyers and 103 international sales companies. A similar number is expected this year.

Emilie Georges, managing director at Paris-based sales outfit Memento Films International, regularly attends TBS and is screening the European premiere of Pawel Pawlikowski’s The Woman In The Fifth at the festival this year.

“We expect to do an Italian deal,” she says. “Italy has been so difficult to pre-sell to, so [TBS] is an occasion to talk about the projects and understand in what way the Italian market is evolving.”

Memento will also screen Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight title The Giants. “The film has not been seen by a lot of distributors and we hope to do some more sales [in Rome],” says Georges.

Script-stage networking

At the NCN, around 950 speed dating-style meetings will take place to talk about 27 new and newish projects. Irish producer Jane Doolan of Mammoth Films brought Stephen Burke’s Objects Of Interest to NCN’s Focus Europe section last year. Focus Europe spotlights new projects from second-time feature directors at script stage.

“We had over 35 meetings in three days,” says Doolan of the NCN. “It hones your pitching skills and you know very fast if someone wants more.”

The project earned a special mention from the three-strong Focus Europe jury. “Stephen got positive feedback in the early stages. That bolsters a writer,” says Doolan.

The NCN jury awards prize money of $13,800 (€10,000) to the best European project, and $41,300 (€30,000) to a project with at least two co-producers from a Eurimages member state.

Miguel Angel Jimenez’s $1.8m project Chaika picked up the latter in 2010. “[The NCN] is helpful for this kind of project, [one] which doesn’t have a huge budget and is set in diverse places with a multinational crew,” says Chaika’s producer Koldo Zuazua of Spain’s Kinoskopik Films Produktion.

The project is now in production and Zuazua says The Match Factory is close to picking up sales rights.

The NCN’s second strand is The Circuit, which platforms 15 international projects from both new and established directors. The projects generally come from NCN’s partners including CineMart, CineLink, Cannes’ Cinéfondation, the Berlinale Co-Production Market, the Sundance Institute and the Film London Production Finance Market.

New Cinema Network’s Focus Europe: the projects

Rising directors including Paddy Considine and Clio Barnard are introducing their second projects to partners and financiers at Rome’s speed-networking event. Profiles by Louise Tutt

Blind (Aust)
Dir Thomas Woschitz
Prod Gabriele Kranzelbinder
Blind is a $2.2m (€1.6m) tragi-comedy in three parts, set in the countryside of Carinthia in Austria. Woschitz says it will follow a group of interwoven characters and the chain reaction of events that is ignited when two friends find a stash of money in a smashed-up car. The project has $1.3m (€950,000) in place from the Austria Film Institute and a Luxembourg tax scheme.

Rising voices (Bel)
Dirs Benedicte Lienard, Mary Jimenez
Prod Joseph Rouschop
A $4m (€2.9m) dramatic feature based on events in Brussels in 2008 when illegal immigrants staged a 56-day sit-in at a church to demand residence permits. The directors, Belgium’s Lienard and the Peru-born Jimenez, say they like to blur the line between documentary and fiction.

A Road Named Desire (Ger)
Dir Martina Priessner
Prod Gregor Streiber
A $428,000 (€310,000) documentary devoted to Turkish workers in Germany on the E5 road between Munich and Istanbul. The stretch is infamous for having one of the highest incidences of road traffic accidents in Europe. Director Priessner describes the film as a love letter to the migrant workers for who the road is an umbilical cord to home.

Cold Spring (Ice)
Dir Hafsteinn Sigurdsson
Prod Thor Sigurjonsson
This latest project will hopefully add to a rich vein of Icelandic film-making in which the country’s otherworldly landscape looms large. Cold Spring will portray the difficult relationship between a young teacher in a remote village and his sailor father who comes to visit. The Ministry of Iceland has invested $138,000 (€100,000) in the $1.4m (€1m) project.

Profound North (It)
Dir Marco Luca Cattaneo
Prods Marco Luca Cattaneo, Valentina Quarantini
An Italian film producer living in Paris is called home to Italy as his father lies dying, in Cattaneo’s new film. The director suggests Profound North will be as much about Italy’s present struggle to determine its identity as it will be a family drama.

Springtime (It)
Dirs Matteo Botrugno, Daniele Coluccini
Prod Simone Isola
Set in Brazil and Italy, this $2.5m (€1.8m) feature will follow a young boy, Rafael, and a woman called Beatriz. Through alternating scenes in the past and the present, it becomes apparent they are the same person, a transsexual woman. Springtime is being produced by Kimerafilm, the company set up by a group of students at Rome’s Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia.
Seventh (Sp)
Dir/scr Patxi Amezcua
Prod Edmon Roch
Amezcua plans to use a hand-held camera to shoot this intense thriller, about a parent’s worst nightmare, set in a single building. As a father leaves his ex-wife’s flat to take his children to school, they race down the stairs while he takes the elevator, only the children never arrive on the ground. The project is budgeted at $2.2m (€1.6m) with $1.1m (€800,000) already in place.

The Silly Ones And The Stupid Ones (Sp)
Dir Roberto Caston
Prod Fernando Diez
Set in Bilbao, Caston’s new feature is a $2.9m (€2.1m) naturalistic drama about a group of characters who are the ‘silly’ and ‘stupid’ of the title. They become entwined in a web of infidelity, desire and betrayals. Caston’s first film was the festival favourite Ander. Nearly $966,500 (€700,000) of funding is already in place.

A Great Ending (Sp)
Dirs Antonio Naharro, Alvaro Pastor
Prods Juan Morali, Hugo Serra
This $5.9m (€4.3m) comedy from the directors of Sundance hit Me Too is about the relationship between a doctor and a dying film star contemplating what his life has meant. No financing is yet in place.

Granny’s Dancing On The Table (Swe)
Dir Hanna Skold
Prod Helene Granqvist
Like the protagonist of her feature, Skold was brought up in isolated rural Sweden. She will explore issues of identity and belonging in this project about a young girl who lives with her father deep in a forest and has the power to predict earthquakes. This $4.3m (€3.1m) project has backing from the Swedish Film Institute and won the Power To The Pixel pitch award of $9,400 (£6,000) in 2010.

The Selfish Giant (UK)
Dir Clio Barnard
Prod Tracy O’Riordan
This new fiction feature from the director of the documentary The Arbor is a contemporary re-imagining of Oscar Wilde’s story of the same name. It centres on two young boys on the fringes of society and ‘The Giant’, the menacing money-lender who lives on their estate. Development money is in place from the British Film Institute (BFI) and Film4.

The Leaning (UK)
Dir/scr Paddy Considine
Prod Diarmid Scrimshaw
Ken Loach meets The Entity in what will be Considine’s chilling follow-up to his garlanded Tyrannosaur. The $4.1m (€3m) The Leaning is about a young woman literally haunted by her past who struggles to confront her demons to save her daughter. The project has development backing from the BFI and Film4 and is being produced by Scrimshaw’s Inflammable Films, which also made Tyrannosaur and is working on the director’s third project, The Years Of The Locust.