The Rome Film Festival, in its third edition, is, understandably, still struggling to define its identity. But since its inception, besides exuding a populist, metropolitan feel, the Eternal City event has been crystal clear about its vocation to become an industry driver for the European industry and beyond.
While the fest won’t be built in a day, Rome’s New Cinema Network already is starting to bear fruit, having ingeniously integrated itself with other top co-production marts on the international circuit, including the Cannes Atelier du Festival and, starting this year, another big-city newcomer, London’s Emerging Producer Training Program linked to the London Film Fest.
Two other efforts, the New Cinema Network and the Business Street Market, set Rome apart from Venice in that those components allow Rome to interact with the industry year-round, says NCN topper Teresa Cavina.
What distinguishes NCN within the growing global project mart milieu is that it is dedicated first and foremost to 14 projects from European directors trying to make their sophomore pics, selected according to stringent criteria, such as the prerequisite that their first feature must not have bowed more than three years prior.
Cavina notes that too often first works break out on the festival circuit but the filmmaker can’t mount a follow-up for years because funds for second works are much scarcer than they are for debuts.
A separate, equally small and focused section is for international projects, mostly from countries outside Europe and always including three works from Asia thanks to Rome’s partnership with Hong Kong’s Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF).
This New International Projects section is open to directors at all stages in their careers and requires a well-honed script, a producer and a shooting schedule.
The new Rome-London collaboration consists this year of three Brit producers, selected from the 10 tapped by Film London’s Emerging Producer Training Program, which is linked to the London Film Festival. Each will come to Rome with a single project to pitch.
Now that most major international fests are equipped with marts similar to Rotterdam’s CineMart, it’s only natural to wonder whether there might not be too much of a good thing out there.
But Cavina says the synergy between the co-production marts that have forged collaborations makes for a highly effective market support system covering different stages of a project’s development.
“The timing is great: Projects can begin their search for financing in Cannes, and six months later they can complete it in Rome,” she says. “The logic of co-production forums is very different from that of film festivals in that we don’t need to have premieres.”