New Rome Mia Mart Aims To Pick Up Where Milan’s Mifed Left Off

Does the European entertainment industry really need another major fall content market?

More than a decade after the shuttering of Milan’s Mifed mart, as AFM moved into its fall slot, the answer may actually be: “yes.”

That at least is the premise behind Rome’s new MIA market, dedicated to feature films, TV series, documentaries and video games. MIA stands for Mercato Internazionale Audiovisivo (International Audiovisual Market). The Eternal City’s innovative unstructured mart being launched Oct. 16-20 during the Rome Film Festival will incorporate Rome’s existing Rome Business Street market and New Cinema Network co-production mart, but also expand them within a more ambitious mission boosted by enticing locations including the city’s ancient Diocletian thermal baths.

Top priority on MIA’s agenda is to drive Italy’s still somewhat insular industry to gain more international traction.

That’s why government entities including Italy’s Ministry for Economic Development and Trade Promotion Agency Ice, along with the Rome fest, have invested a hefty reported $2 million to finance its launch.

“Besides driving exports of more Italian product, one of our main goals is to prompt Italians to participate more in international projects,” says Mia director Lucia Milazzotto, formerly in charge of Rome’s New Cinema Network dedicated to indie co-productions which has ties to the Sundance Institute and the Hong Kong Asian Film Financing Forum, among other partners.

New Cinema Network will now also feature a Make It With Italy platform for international film projects seeking an Italian minority co-production partner.

The plan is to expand Make It With Italy to television next year by selecting European TV Series congenial for the Italian industry to board. Meanwhile this year MIA will dedicate special attention to TV series’ co-productions during its MIA TV Days panels. The MIA TV Days board includes top Euro TV honchos including Anthony Root (HBO), Jan Mojto (Beta) and Andrea Scrosati (Sky).

It seems quite clear that outside Italy, and not just in Europe, there seems to be a certain nostalgia for Mifed, albeit in a different digital age permutation.

“Mifed as a fall market worked pretty well,” says Michael Weber, topper of German arthouse powerhouse The Match Factory, who cautions: “I don’t think they want to do Mifed redux.”

That said, “I think this idea that sales agents had a few years ago that the Afm would substitute Mifed never happened,” he notes.

“AFM was never our key market,” Weber laments. “In that sense I think the two markets (Mia and Afm) could even be complementary to each other.”

Unveiling MIA in Rome’s Diocletian Thermal Baths, built in 306 A.D., Andrea Occhipinti, who heads Italy’s distributors association as well as shingle Lucky Red, underscored that Mia picked a good time slot — since Oct. 16-20 is a safe enough distance from AFM’s Nov. 4-11 dates, and does not overlap with Mipcom, which ran Oct. 5-8.

Occhipinti also pointed out that while the new Rome mart’s focus is on works-in-progress rather than finished product Mia will also rep an opportunity for international buyers to catch up on recent titles they may have missed in Venice and Toronto.

But Mia’s real raison d’etre is to prompt a resurgence of strong mid-range mainstream film and TV product within the Italian industry.

“In Italy we have very strong auteur films that go to festivals and even win Oscars like ‘The Great Beauty’,” said Milazzotto.

“But what we need in order to make our industry more international are movies that don’t necessarily go to festivals but still generate strong international sales. Generally speaking, that means genre movies,” she added.

On the TV side it could mean broadening the type of genres beyond either mob or church related shows.

Mifed, which is considered the world’s oldest film market, certainly contributed to the glory days when besides Fellini Cinema Italiano meant spaghetti westerns, horror flicks, violent crimers and exotic erotica.

As for Mia’s importance to non-Italians, “At the end of the day as a seller I have to ask myself: what type of product will I bring there?,” said Weber. “Is the product strong enough to generate a new market?,” he wondered.

“If we bring the right content, it could make a difference.”

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