Indigo Films brings color to Italian production

Production company gives local talent a chance

In Italy a film production shingle doesn’t get much more genuinely indie than Nicola Giuliano and Francesca Cima’s Indigo Film, best known internationally for Paolo Sorrentino’s “Il Divo.”

And about a decade after shepherding Paolo Sorrentino’s debut “One Man Up,” starring Toni Servillo as a cocaine-addicted cheesy lounge singer, and two years since Servillo’s internationally acclaimed turn in “Il Divo” as shady Italo elder statesman Giulio Andreotti, Indigo is expanding its horizons while staying true to its mandate for uncover fresh talent.

“Italian cinema is much more vibrant these days compared with 10 or 15 years ago: I’m talking about the quality of writing, directing and acting,” notes Giuliano.

No doubt he and Cima have been busy nurturing Italo newcomers, with the key difference that unlike other Italian producers Indigo has not been merely angling for immediate mega moolah.

Indigo’s modus operandi can be in fact be exemplified by Pietro Marcello’s “The Mouth of the Wolf,” its latest title currently on release via BIM in Italy. The debut feature about a tender romance born behind bars between a convicted murderer and a junkie who becomes a transsexual, won several fest prizes.

Interestingly, this minuscule very eclectic pic was partly financed by a Catholic foundation, the Fondazione San Marcellino, known for its work with the homeless and run by Jesuits, an order known for their unconventional streak.

Another Indigo pic by a first-timer, Giuseppe Capotondi’s non-conventional thriller “The Double Hour,” launched from Venice and Toronto last year to a slew of international sales. Advanced talks are now underway for an English-language remake.

Concurrently, Indigo is currently busy mounting Sorrentino’s first English-language foray “This Must Be The Place” which, as previously announced, will topline Sean Penn as a retired rock star. Shooting is expected to start this year probably in Ireland, as well as in the U.S., with Lucky Red confirmed as Indigo’s Italian partner.

The Indigo duo’s main beef is that movies in Italy are mostly financed by the two top broadcasters, pubcaster RAI and Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset/Medusa who are also the top local distributors.

“With two TV giants dominating the film market, they tend to play by their own rules, which means they tend to keep all the rights for themselves,” complains Cima.

“At the same time government film funds are drying up, free-TV broadcasters don’t buy movies to actually air them, and pay-TV pays peanuts,” adds Giuliano.

And, so far, the country’s recently introduced production tax credits instead of being a help “have only created confusion and provided our usual financing sources with an excuse to give us even less,” they both lament.

That said, Indigo has several new projects in the pipeline that rep a local novelty, both thematically and in terms of how they have been mounted.

n Hot young helmer Andrea Molaioli will start shooting in April in Piedmont on “Il Gioellino,” an expose of the massive Parmalat scandal involving Italy’s largest food company and dubbed “Europe’s Enron.” Servillo will topline as a top Parmalat exec.

Molaioli made his debut with Indigo-produced “The Girl By the Lake,” which was widely sold internationally.

n Italo documaker and former MTV Italia V-jay Massimo Coppola is making his feature film debut with “Hai Paura Del Buio?” (Are You Afraid of the Dark?” a drama in which the lives of two young women, one Italian one Romanian, intersect in the Fiat factory where they both work in Melfi, Southern Italy. Pic shot in Romania and Italy is being co-financed by BIM which will release in Italy. Marking a first, MTV Italy has picked up Italian TV rights and will provide marketing muscle and also air in Italy. In post.

n Indigo has picked up movie rights for English-language novel “Callisto,” a satire of the Bush-era war on terrorism, published in the U.S. by Harper Perennial, for which it is seeking U.S. partners.

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