Rome’s MIA market for TV series, feature films and documentaries wrapped positively Sunday with organizers boasting a bump in attendance just as some 2,500 executives departed in an upbeat mood after four days of dealmaking and presentations of mostly European fresh product, which elevated Italy’s global standing in the industry, especially within the TV sector.
“Italy is in a full Renaissance phase in terms of scripted,” said Walter Iuzzolino, curator of Walter Presents, the joint venture between British broadcaster Channel 4 and Global Series Network, specialized in foreign-language drama series.
Iuzzolino, who at MIA presented the Greenlit section dedicated to new series, added that there is a push underway in Italy’s TV industry “towards a gigantic upgrading of quality in terms of writing, production, acting, everything. The Italian shows showcased in Greenlit “could be playing on Channel 4 this evening in primetime,” he noted.
European TV took center stage, of course. The biggest announcement at MIA was the casting of “Poldark” star Aidan Turner as Leonardo da Vinci in a new high-end English-language series on the Renaissance genius that’s being co-produced by Italy’s RAI, France Televisions and Germany’s ZDF as part of The Alliance, the entity they’ve formed to counter streaming giants such as Netflix and Amazon.
And top Italian commercial broadcaster Mediaset signaled its new international mindset with a strong presence at MIA where they announced several projects for global play, including a high-end series on Tommaso Buscetta, the first high-ranking Sicilian mafioso to become a turncoat.
The U.S. industry made a strong showing with a contingent that, besides execs from the streamers, comprised Sony Pictures Television’s Nina Lederman, Universal Television’s Kristen Del Pero, and FilmNation Entertainment’s Stephanie Berk, to name a few on the TV side. U.S. film execs that made the trek included Lakeshore Entertainment’s Gary Lucchesi and Film Movement’s Michael Rosenberg.
There were also plenty of people from U.S talent agencies. WME, CAA, and UTA were all in Rome with multiple execs, indicating that the agencies are increasingly active in packaging overseas projects and representing European talents.
“We still don’t have final figures, but international attendance was up 20%, which is hugely positive,” said Francesco Rutelli head of Italy’s motion picture association ANICA during the closing ceremony. He praised MIA director Lucia Milazzotto for succeeding in growing the new format mart, now at its fifth edition. MIA is organized by ANICA in tandem with Italy’s TV producers’ association APA whose chief Giancarlo Leone boasted that the market’s success proves Italy has now gained a prominent spot on the international content market map.
Standout European projects that won prizes at MIA include Bulgaria’s “Triumph,” a feature film set against the backdrop of that country’s early post-communist period when a group of high-ranking army officers, under the guidance of psychic channelers, started digging a hole “in search of an artifact from an advanced alien civilization,” said its synopsis.
“Triumph,” which will be directed by Bulgarian duo Kristina Grozeva and Peter Valchanov (“The Lesson”) via their Abraxas Film shingle, won the Eurimages Co-Production Development Award worth worth €20,000 ($22,000).
Documentary project “The Secret Diaries of the Pope – The Vatican Secret Archives of the WWII” won the National Geographic Award for best MIA doc pitch. The high-profile doc, being produced by Rome shingle Stand By Me and Vatican Media, takes its cue from Pope Francis’ announced decision to open sealed Vatican archives on March 2, 2020, from the World War II-era pontificate of Pius XII that will allow scholars to examine how the Vatican responded to Nazism and the Holocaust.