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MIA Finds Niche in Global Entertainment Business

Just as the viability of classic film market models including Cannes and the AFM is coming into question, Rome’s MIA Market for feature films, TV series, and documentaries is gaining traction with a new concept.

Launched in 2015 as a re-invention of the Rome Film Festival’s Business Street mart in a concerted effort to put Italy back on the global content-markets map, MIA is a one-stop shop event for the cream of the crop in film, TV series and docs that instead of booths and stands provides meticulous assistance setting up curated business meetings in a congenial setting and a mix of quality fresh finished product as well as pitching sessions of upcoming selected movies, skeins and docs in various stages.

MIA, an acronym for Mercato Internazionale Audiovisivo or Intl. Audiovisual Market, is backed by Italy’s motion picture association Anica and TV producers’ org APT. The mart was attended by 1,800 execs from 58 countries during its third edition in 2017. More significantly, an impressive roster of top level execs and industry personalities showed up.

Now a robust representation of top players is also expected to make the trek to the Eternal City for this year’s fourth edition of the post-Mipcom pre-AFM (Oct. 17-21) mart that will take place a stone’s throw from Rome’s cinematic Via Veneto in a central area between the 17th century Palazzo Barberini where meetings and several MIA events are held, and nearby cinemas.

In conceiving MIA, director Lucia Milazzotto says she chose to focus on quality and high-end fare “as our strategic niche,” catering to producers “who invest across the board in this type of product, mostly coming out of Europe, but made for the global market.”

That’s what attracts top execs such as Carole Scotta, founder of upscale French producer distributor Haut et Court, which active in both films such as “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” and TV series including “The Young Pope.” She is attending MIA this year for the first time.

Other execs expected in Rome include former HBO executive Michael Ellenberg, who is now chief of Media Res, which is producing Apple’s upcoming untitled morning show drama starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon; Anonymous Content chief Paul Green, who will give a keynote speech; and former Sky Italia programming chief Andrea Scrosati, recently appointed COO of production and distribution giant Fremantle who encapsulates the fact that Italy is gaining more international industry clout.

Aside from roughly 125 screenings of recently completed movies — some of which segue from Venice and Toronto — the 400 buyers at MIA will be able to attend four what’s next-type events presenting new films, docs and series. These include a preview of RAI’s hotly anticipated “The Name of the Rose” toplining John Turturro; a pitch for science-fiction series “The Feed,” penned by Channing Powell (“The Walking Dead”) and that has already been ordered up by Amazon, but is available for some territories; and film history doc “The Rossellinis,” by Alessandro Rossellini, Roberto’s grandson.

Film projects being pitched at MIA include buzzed-about Brazilian thriller “The Hanged,” by Fernando Coimbra (“Narcos”) and supported by the Sundance Institute; “Libertad” a Spanish first feature from writer-director Clara Roquet, supported by the Mediterranean Sundance Lab; and Berlin-based Franco-Iranian filmmaker Emily Atef’s fourth feature “Mister,” which segues from “3 Days in Quiberon,” her pic about a key moment in the turbulent life of Austrian star Romy Schneider. It recently swept Germany’s Lola Awards.

As for panels MIA has partnered with London and L.A.-based consultancy company MediaXchange, which will be presenting an in-depth analysis of TV series trends; there will be a Focus on the U.K. industry and how it is preparing for Brexit; a session on prospects for distributing non-U.S. movies in China, and an onstage conversation with director Bryan Fogel, whose “Icarus” won the Oscar for documentary feature. Walter Iuzzolino, co-founder of streaming service Walter Presents, will also give a talk.

MIA has added a drama pitching section called Greenlit dedicated to international series with at least one broadcaster attached; launched two documentary sections, one for serial docs, another for one-offs, and also a section called SeeEUSoon for projects by debuting European filmmakers.

“We are becoming important for what you might consider a niche segment of the market,” says Milazzotto.

He points out that MIA is “strategic for the growth of the European industry” as well as being “an amplifier of the opportunities that Italy represents” now that they have a film law expected to pump some €400 million ($490 million) annually into all film industry sectors, including incentives for international producers.

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