Whatever may happen at the second AFM this fall, it’s business as usual for Italian buyers at the traditional spring round.
Faithful faces will be there looking to close deals already started and pick up the odd sleeper.
Money is a variable with Italian buyers. The lower dollar could be an incentive to buy more. Ever ready to pay top prices for the best-quality shirts and cars, Italians won’t husband their funds if they feel a film is worth it.
“My checkbook is ready,” boasts Gary Kallenbach, a young but savvy buyer for Vistarama. “I’m always willing to spend on a good offer.” Vistarama is after “commercial titles, but not cannon fodder,” he says. The company wants a film with small to medium-name actors and a good director.
Good action films also suit Vistarama’s tv and video clientele. At AFM, Kallenbach will renew many expiring rights in his 250-title library, and conclude deals started elsewhere.
He works closely with Fries Entertainment, and sells films to pubcaster RAI and Silvio Berlusconi’s private webs, not to mention the smaller Italo networks like TMC and Odeon, and video distribs.
A few big buyers
As a rule, only a few Italo companies are big buyers at AFM, and they’re largely in competition for the same type of picture: quality indies with boxoffice potential and preferably a name cast.
Artisti Associati’s acquisitions head Sonia Graziani will be buying for one of Italy’s largest distribberies. The company’s slate includes 13 to 14 films a year from the U.S. and Europe, described as “quality commercial product.”
Company toppers Jacopo Capanna and Giuseppe Perugia will also be in attendance. AA has a long-standing agreement with Vision Intl. AA’s relationship with Morgan Creek started with “Robin Hood, Prince Of Thieves,” and AA hopes it will continue. Last year, AA picked up five or six features at AFM.
Claudio Tinari, foreign sales chief for Pentafilm (owned by Silvio Berlusconi and the Cecchi Goris), is buying for Penta’s distribbery.
The company has longterm contracts with Carolco, but Tinari has an eye out for “big indies that are really indie,” of “The Sheltering Sky” variety, for instance.
Possible Penta co-prods
Penta has invested in co-prods before – Gaumont’s “Nikita” and the new Peter Greenaway film are examples. Some “interesting pictures in San Francisco” have aroused Tinari’s curiosity for possible co-prod ventures, Penta’s first with the U.S.
Old and new management of Titanus Distribuzione will be at AFM – v.p. Giovanna Romagnoli and newly appointed director of foreign sales and marketing Sesto Cifola. Production activities are in expansion, and Cifola is handling co-prods for new division Titanus World Sales.
Mikado is one of Italy’s leading quality distribbers; it goes for excellent films by arthouse directors like Krzysztof Kieslowski and Terence Davies. Company topper Roberto Cicutto says Mikado will be repped by American contact Luigi Musini. Though the firm almost always knows what it wants before it goes to L.A., Cicutto doesn’t exclude some “strange pictures” popping up: Nordic, small English or very small American films. Last year Mikado found the German film “The Nasty Girl” at AFM.
Taking no chances
Distribber Massimo Civilotti of Chance Film has begun to furnish films to a 123-theater exhib consortium led by Chance. The company is releasing moneymakers like Tinto Brass’s work of arty erotica, “Paprika,” in 123 prints (very rare for Italy: Marco Ferreri’s “Flesh” will come out in a relatively hefty 70 prints).
In Santa Monica, Civilotti will be mainly signing pre-arranged contracts on top grade, very commercial films with big-name actors.
In addition to selling for her new company, Adriana Chiesa will be the exclusive buyer for a new Italian distribbery, DARC, founded by producer Angelo Rizzoli. Again, “big,” “quality” and “commercial” are Chiesa’s key words.
Roberto Cimpanelli, head of Life Film, can be found at his stand. “Everything’s possible,” says Cimpanelli, the Italo distribber of “Dances With Wolves” who bought “Longtime Companion” at the last AFM. Like most Italian buyers, he is going with maximum flexibility. “Each year I find something,” he says.
Life has begun talks for several co-prod investment ventures with American partners.
Many other indie buyers can be found grouped around the Italian film industry (Anica) stand, at least for go-round.