Promotional outfit folded into larger org

ROME — Italia Cinema, Italy’s promotional entity for film, has officially shut down operations, replaced by a larger structure, Audiovisual Industry Promotion (AIP), to be unveiled today at the Berlin Film Festival.

Five years after its inception, Italia Cinema — which had become a regular fixture on the international fest circuit — will now be absorbed by AIP, whose broader mission includes managing MIFED and beefing up the Venice fest’s nascent market.

This new comprehensive outfit, meant to boost the Italian film industry as a whole, is a 50/50 joint venture between trade fair org Fiera di Milano and Cinecitta Holding, the state-run holding company of Cinecitta Studios. The Venice Biennale will soon also become a partner.

“The basic idea is to pool our resources so that the Italian film industry can become more competitive internationally,” AIP managing director (and MIFED topper) Carlo Bassi told Daily Variety. “We want to coordinate our efforts on different fronts,” he added.

Giorgio Gosetti — the film critic and expert who had set up Italia Cinema and was its chief operative — will now head an AIP sub-unit called FilmItalia. Like Italia Cinema, FilmItalia will be loosely modeled on France’s Unifrance, but it will have a more pragmatic marketing approach.

“It’s a whole different philosophy. We are absolutely convinced that promotion is important, but we think it needs to be done with different tools,” said AIP prexy Giovanni Galoppi, an entertainment lawyer who is also a Cinecitta board member.

“At the end of the day, selling movies is not so different from selling cars,” he explained.

At this stage it is unclear whether FilmItalia will continue organizing the Italian Screenings, the annual event at which dozens of international buyers were invited to view the country’s latest crop of movies. The AIP toppers said they are analyzing what the best marketing tools are; they’re also seeking to forge long-lasting ties with international distributors and producers.

Surely waging war on the American Film Market is one of the main reasons behind the birth of AIP, which was conceived following AFM’s date change into MIFED’s customary November timeslot.

“Before AFM begins we will announce measures that will prove that MIFED is a lot more vital than anyone could imagine,” vowed Bassi. The Milan mart’s chief added that for its next edition — the first to see it go head to head with AFM — MIFED is offering 25 % discounts for all sellers and free travel and accommodations for key buyers. “We are asking sales companies — starting with U.S. ones — to give us names of buyers whom they want to see in Milan,” he added.

Bassi also reiterated that he wants to broaden MIFED’s scope beyond film into TV and multimedia product as well.

More details about AIP, which has a budget of up to e7 million ($8.8 million), will be announced in coming weeks.

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