ROME – Canneseries competition entry “The Hunter” is being hailed as a watershed production for Italian pubcaster Rai and certainly stands out as the most innovative show among a Rai content package just picked up by Amazon Prime Video.
About a real Palermo prosecutor with a killer instinct for tracking down top Mafiosi, ”The Hunter” is produced by Rome-based Cross Productions — which is controlled by Germany’s Beta Film — in tandem with Rai Fiction. The 12-episode “Hunter” skein reconstructs the vigorous reaction prompted in 1993 by the 1992 bomb murders of anti-Mafia magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino. An anti-Mafia effort of unprecedented scope was unleashed that led to hundreds of arrests and marked a turning point in Italy’s fight against Cosa Nostra.
This pivotal hunt is narrated through multiple prisms but mainly through that of young and ambitious provincial prosecutor Saverio Barone, played by Francesco Montanari (“Crime Novel”). His character is conceived “totally outside the box as far as Italian dramas are concerned,” says Rai Fiction chief Eleonora Andreatta. “Because he is full of shadows and light.” He has flaws, “so that you don’t know if he’s driven by his sense of justice…or just his huge ambition,” she notes.
The Hunter” is unique amid the multitude of Italian mob shows because it’s rigorously fact-based when it comes to reconstructing the arrests, while creative liberties have been taken in depicting the protagonists’ inner demons and also his family life.
“We mixed the Mafia story genre with a family drama,” Andreatta points out. Stars Montanari and Miriam Dalmazio, who plays his wife, will be on hand to tubthump the international premiere of “The Hunter” in Cannes together with the two young directors, Stefano Lodovichi and Davide Marengo.
Marengo credits Andreatta and producer Rosario Rinaldo with allowing the helmers to tackle something that has touched “all of our lives” with a fresh narrative approach and also “total freedom from a visual standpoint, something that one might expect from cable or from Sky and Netflix,” he says.
“In terms of narration, it is much more modern and faster than the typical Rai product,” says Beta chief Jan Mojto, who is selling the show internationally. “The storytelling is different from traditional Italian TV and closer to international standards,” he notes.
Marengo said a second installment of “The Hunter” is in advanced script stage with tentative plans to shoot Season 2 next year.
Meanwhile after a stellar bow, ratings on Rai’s Rai 2 channel are averaging a solid roughly 8% share in prime time with close to 2 million viewers per airing — coupled with good play on Rai’s Raiplay streaming platform. Its prime time slot is bold due to the show’s unprecedented blood and violence quotient for prime time, including bodies chopped up with axes or dissolved in acid vats. This gamble, which seems to be paying off well enough, is also emblematic of Rai’s new course which is a bit less ratings-obsessed and more quality-based.
As for play on Amazon Prime in Italy, “The Hunter” will be joining other Rai shows for which which Amazon has acquired local second-run rights including “Medici: Masters of Florence,” the Italian adaptation of “Red Band Society,” gritty detective series “Rocco Schiavone,” and Sicily-set “The Young Montalbano.”