When Italian sales company True Colours launched from Rome’s MIA market five years ago, international prospects for cinema Italiano titles that were not directed by a handful of name auteurs, such as Nanni Moretti, Matteo Garrone and Paolo Sorrentino, had gotten rather dim.
Italian cinema was being sold around the world mostly by foreign sales outfits that had become the preferred global channel for many of Italy’s producers, partly because they provided minimum guarantees that helped close their budgets and that local sellers could not afford. The problem was that lots of exportable Italian product was being overlooked.
“There was a gap,” says veteran distributor-producer Andrea Occhipinti, head of Lucky Red. As a producer, Occhipinti adds, he was unhappy with how his movies were being handled internationally by non-Italian companies. So in 2015 Lucky Red joined forces with production company Indigo Film (“The Great Beauty”) and they formed True Colours. They have been reversing that trend ever since.
Gaetano Maiorino, True Colours’ managing director, says from day one the goal was clearly to have in their lineup “a wide-range of Italian films that were not being exploited commercially on the international market,” though distribution of some non-Italian product was also part of the plan from the start.
The other key to its success is that it is an outlet for films made by all Italian producers, not just Lucky Red and Indigo.
The company’s rapid growth is credited to the reputation and connections of the founders, including veteran sales agent Catia Rossi (she parted amicably roughly a year ago to start another Italian sales outfit). “Lots of producers had faith in us,” says Maiorino.
Maiorino, who works closely with the company’s head of sales Giulia Casavecchia, considers the first True Colours lineup at MIA in 2015 a blueprint for what was to come.
The first four pics on the slate were Roberto Ando’s “The Confessions,” a high-profile drama on power as perceived by the mind of a monk, played by Italian star Toni Servillo and boasting a top international cast; Maria Sole Tognazzi’s “Me Myself and Her,” a romcom about a middle-aged lesbian couple; teen pic “One Kiss,” by Ivan Cotroneo, which dealt with homophobia and bullying; and innovative anti-Semitism-themed mockumentary “Pecore in Erba” (“Burning Love”) by first-timer Alberto Caviglia.
“The Confessions,” “Me Myself and Her” and “One Kiss” all went on to sell in a dozen territories. “We still get revenue from them,” Maiorino says.
“Burning Love” also got some love.
And True Colours continues to distribute a mix of auteur and more commercial fare with special attention dedicated to first-time helmers.
Milestone movies during True Colours’ first five years have included Sergio Castellitto’s “Fortunata,” the first film it launched from Cannes where the pic won the 2017 Un Certain Regard acting prize for Jasmine Trinca’s tour-deforce as a hairdresser with a turbulent life, and Valeria Golino’s “Euphoria,” which also premiered on the Croisette.
In the more commercial sphere there is Paolo Genovese’s “Perfect Strangers,” the high-concept dramedy that was sold in more than 40 territories, and comedy “Like a Cat on a Highway” that did gangbuster business at home, but is the type of Italian film “that in the past had always been considered too local and would not have travelled,” says Maiorino.
Instead, “thanks to our work,” it been sold to 15 territories and had some theatrical outings abroad.
The documentary “Deliver Us,” by Federica Di Giacomo, about two Sicilian priests who do exorcisms, also holds a special place in the True Colours library. It’s the title that, along with auteur Edoardo De Angelis’ debut “Indivisible,” about Neapolitan teenage conjoined-twin sisters, has landed the most festival slots, and drew theatrical releases in important territories such as the U.S., U.K. and Japan.
So within just five years, True Colours has become “a really good partner for all Italian filmmakers,” says Indigo Film co-founder Carlotta Calori.
The company can now invest in new talents and thanks to Italy’s new distribution incentives are able to offer Italian producers minimum guarantees.