Acquisitive minds: Valerio de Paolis

BIM Distribuzione chief, Italy

Recent buys:

Atom Egoyan’s “Ararat,” Gaspar Noe’s “Irreversible,” Francois Ozon’s “Eight Women”

Rate the acquisitions climate:

“Italy’s acquisitions situation has been greatly modified since Cecchi Gori stopped buying. The company’s retreat from the market has freed up anywhere from 70 to 100 titles a year. There’s less willingness than there used to be to sell in advance and sellers now seem more inclined to wait for a festival or market premiere, which drives prices up. With free and pay TV buys of features at a standstill in Italy and national film admissions dropping to the lowest of any major European territory, the theatrical market is much weaker than it used to be but buyers continue to demand top prices. As a result, I’ve become more conservative with acquisitions. But despite the pinch, people here are still buying.”


“The most dramatic factor is when I’m trying to buy one particular film and the seller insists on placing two or three other titles I don’t (go) along with it. That’s a killing point for me.”

Advice to filmmakers vying for your attention:

“Traditionally, BIM specializes in auteur films so the director’s name is what attracts us first. We look for films with significant social content like ‘Kandahar’ or Ken Loach’s work, but right now, I’m also looking for comedies. I think (the attacks on) Sept. 11, the war in Israel, the political situation in Italy have darkened the general mood and people are looking to smile more at the movies, as in the case of ‘Amelie.’ ”

Favorite place to screen a film:

“Around 90% of our slate is bought at script stage but my favorite place to screen is at festivals, especially events like Cannes or Toronto, where there’s a very warm, motivated audience that transmits a real sense of enthusiasm for cinema.”

Films you wish you had picked up:

“I was disappointed not to get ‘Gosford Park.’ I also would love to have released ‘Amores Perros’ and ‘Monsoon Wedding,’ both terrific films.”