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Rome MIA Market Wraps Positively With Bigger U.S. Presence, Strong Product

Rome’s MIA market for TV series, feature films and documentaries wrapped on a positive note Sunday after four days of intense dealmaking and presentations, which saw some 2,000 executives, including 400 buyers, sample a substantial offering of select new top notch mostly European product.

“We still don’t generate the big announcements like Mipcom,” said market director Lucia Milazzotto, but, she added “we are growing.” Milazzotto boasted that for its fourth edition the new concept MIA event, created to put Italy back on the markets map, attracted a big rise in U.S. attendees across all sectors, “which means more buyers, and more commissioning editors,” came lured by “the cream of the European crop.”

The American contingent at MIA comprised Anonymous Content chief Paul Green, Oscar-winning multi-hyphenate Bryan Fogel (“Icarus”), Sony Pictures Entertainment Senior VP Katrhyn Busby, “Narcos” show-runner Chris Brancato, and “Bridesmaids” and “Ghostbusters” director Paul Feig. Besides coming to do business, Busby and Feig both participated in packed women and diversity-themed industry panels, while Brancato attended one of the closed-door TV Executive Round Table sessions (pictured) in which top international TV players discussed the challenges they face.

Fresh Italian TV product in various stages that generated buzz in MIA’s newly-created Greenlit section, included Entertainment One and Palomar’s “Gaddafi,” and Sky Italia and Lux Vide’s financial thriller “Devils.” But there was also plenty of non-Italian product on display including Indian gangster drama “Gori,” set amid the community of Goa’s low-caste untouchables, produced by Mumbai-based Handmade Films/Alliance Media & Entertainment, Endemol Shine Israel’s child-trafficking crimer “Haya Dark Woods,” and social media sci-fi drama “The Feed” from All3Media’s Studio Lambert, commissioned by Amazon and Liberty Global.

All told, selected scripted content worth an estimated more than €300 million ($346 million) was on display and more than 30,000 curated meetings were held during the the post-Mipcom pre-AFM market, which has stepped up efforts to increasingly launch select new fare because “MIA is where the industry comes to talk, to begin discussions. Not just for quick dealmaking, which in any event does take place,” Milazzotto noted.

“It’s a great networking opportunity,” said L.A.-based indie producer Alessandra Pasquino, who came to MIA with Indonesian/American filmmaker Inaya Yusuf to pitch “The One and the Many,” a doc about radical Italian playwright Armando Punzo, best known for his experimental theater workshops in a Tuscan maximum-security jail. “There are some very important industry players here,” she added. “And it’s a great opportunity to meet them one-to-one, which in the U.S. would be almost impossible.”

Deals that have surfaced so far include FilmSharks Intl. acquiring world sales rights to prominent Spanish director Julio Medem’s romantic thriller “The Tree of Blood,” which they will continue to introduce to buyers at AFM, London-based Aquatic Films closing a sale on Oliver McGarvey-directed doc “Romantic Road” to Hi Gloss Entertainment for Australia and New Zealand, and Italy’s TVCO taking world pre-sales on Sardinia-set eco-drama “The Lamb,” directed by Mario Piredda and produced by Italian indie Articolture.

Upcoming Italian films showcased at the What’s Next Italy event included hotly anticipated new works by Oscar-winner Gabriele Salvatores, who is shooting road movie “Volare,” a new genre-bender titled “Freaks Out” by Gabriele Mainetti (“They Call Me Jeeg”), and “The First Day of My Life,” the New York-set English-language debut of Paolo Genovese whose concept movie “Perfect Strangers” is Italy’s biggest recent cinematic export.

Standout European projects that won prizes include female empowerment drama “The Nightsiren” by Czech director Tereza Nvotova, which won the Eurimages co-production development award worth €20,000 ($23,000) and is being produced by Milos Lochmann for Moloko Film. French doc “Vibrato,” an unconventional reflection on the experiences of the victims of the 2015 Bataclan terrorist attacks from director Jeremy Leroux, produced by Paris-based Day For Night Productions, won the newly introduced National Geographic Award for best MIA doc pitch.

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