With Cannes and Venice both up in the air due to the coronavirus pandemic, Italy’s film promotion org. Filmitalia has teamed up with festival streaming platform Festival Scope Pro to launch its annual Italian Screenings market online in July.

Filmitalia, a unit of Italian national film entity Luce-Cinecittà, “is the first of Europe’s roughly 30 film promotion agencies to make a move into the virtual market space,” says its chief Carla Cattani.

She is organizing this year’s digital screenings — which will run July 21-24 in an expanded format — in tandem with the country’s film exporters’ union UNEFA.

The Italian Screenings’ July 21-24 slot is strategic, situated in the calendar a month after the Cannes virtual market — where Italian movies will probably have “low visibility,” Cattani notes — and before Venice, which may or may not take place in early September.

“We have to kickstart the market cycle again and start selling fresh (Italian) fare that buyers didn’t see in Berlin,” says Cattani.

The selection of roughly 40 new Italian feature films, most of them world premieres, is about twice the customary Italian Screenings offerings.

“It’s almost like a mini-festival, but limited to international distributors,” says Festival Scope chief Alessandro Raja for whom the collaboration with Filmitalia on Italian Screenings marks the first event of this type.

Festival Scope Pro is a prominent B2B platform for film professionals that launched in 2010 and has since forged ties with dozens of other top international fests. They recently collaborated with Denmark’s CPH:DOX fest and are currently seeing a boom in requests from other events and markets. The sister platform Festival Scope, which is open to the public and known for hosting films on behalf of the Venice fest, among others, is also getting more traffic these days.

“Buyers know them,” said Cattani, who added that “when you are putting some 40 world premieres on the market, it really has to be a trusted partner.”

Festival Scope Pro tracks and instantly provides information on who is watching a given film “and whether they watched it in its entirety,” points out Raja. This means sellers can “reach out to the right buyers,” notes Cattani.

Though Cattani declined to provide specifics on titles, possible pics in the mix include the latest from known Italian auteurs such as Susanna Nicchiarelli (“Nico, 1988”) whose English-language biopic of Karl Marx’s daughter Eleanor “Miss Marx” is ready; Daniele Luchetti (“Our Life”) who has completed marriage drama “Ties”; as well as more commercial fare like “Superheroes,” the latest from Paolo Genovese whose dramedy “Perfect Strangers” (pictured) is Italy’s top recent film export.

Cattani said some 200 buyers will be invited, up from roughly 150 last year, with execs from streaming platforms and broadcasters added to the list.

At present, the collaboration between Filmitalia and Festival Scope Pro is limited to the market screenings, not the ensuing business meetings, for which each company can use platforms of their choice.

All Italian sales agents are expected to participate, as well as most non-Italian companies that handle Italian product such as The Match Factory, Celluloid Dreams and mk2 Films.