ROME – A+E Networks Italy is producing several new originals for the international marketplace, including a special on the long-ago disappearance of teenager Emanuela Orlandi, a case that involved the Vatican and made headlines around the world.
Fifteen-year-old Emanuela, a citizen of Vatican City, disappeared in 1983 on her way home from a music lesson. Since then her family and investigators have struggled to solve the mystery. Various theories have linked the girl’s presumed abduction to intrigue involving secret services of various countries, the Italian mob, and the Vatican, which has denied accusations of a coverup.
The “Emanuela Orlandi/Vanished Special,” produced by B&B Film for A+E Networks Italia, has already been completed. It aired Sunday on Sky in Italy and has been picked up by Germany’s ZDF and Belgian public television RTBF. “It’s very rewarding that some of our international productions are travelling,” said Sherin Salvetti, general manager for A+E Italy.
Although many of A+E’s European channels are run as a joint venture with Sky, the Italian outpost is wholly owned by A+E.
Ever since it was set up in 2013, the Rome-based A+E Italia – which runs the History, Crime+Investigation, and Blaze channels that air on Sky Italia – has been producing local originals with international scope, such as “The Mafia’s Secret Bunkers,” which played in prime time on the BBC; “Mafia Queens,” aired by A+E on several European channels; and “Eating History: Italy,” which aside from A+E channels has played on Australia’s SBS, which also co-produced.
“Though some of our Italian productions will continue to be strictly local, we are now increasingly thinking international when we commission,” said Salvetti.
As for its other upcoming 2018 originals, A+E Italia has teamed up with Franco-German broadcaster Arte and German TV RBB on high-end series “1968mm.” Using amateur Super 8 movies shot by eyewitnesses, the show looks at major events from 50 years ago, during the watershed year of 1968. Aside from contributions from Italy, the Super 8 footage will comprise massive student demonstrations in Paris, anti-war protests in Chicago, the Tet Offensive and Mi-Lay massacre in Vietnam, and mass student killings in Mexico City.
“1968mm” will be directed by multiple-prize-winning British director Jerry Rothwell (“Deep Water,” “How to Change the World”). It is being co-produced by Germany’s Boekamp & Kriesgsheim and Italy’s DocLab shingles. DocLab is the producer of Gianfranco Rosi’s Venice Golden Lion winner “Sacro GRA.”
“I love it when you can recount historical events trough the prism of individuals whose life intersects with them….I’m obsessed with this,” Salvetti said.
She said she had high hopes for the international prospects of A+E Italia’s “Online: Dangerous Connections” series about cyber-crime in Italy. The show, produced by Rome’s Ascent Film, targets millennials and is starting to get traction in Europe. A+E is also developing another series with international ambitions that is based on one of Italy’s biggest ongoing crime investigations, similar to the Orlando case.