Rome’s new concept MIA Market dedicated to international TV series, feature films, documentaries and more kicked off Wednesday in the Eternal City’s 17th century Palazzo Barberini with 1,700 registered industry execs – roughly 600 of whom have made the trek from abroad – and 350 new titles of various types, in development and production, on display.
At a press conference attended by Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini and all top Italian industry reps, organizers also boasted a 30% increase in completed films screening at the MIA film market where about 80 mostly European titles will be having their market – or, in some cases, even world – premieres.
While the Oct. 11-14 Mipcom market in Cannes is suffering a reduced presence, and the AFM this year has gone entirely online, MIA (the acronym stands for Mercato Internazionale Audiovisivo, or International Audiovisual Market) seems to be reaping the benefits of being conceived more congenially to how the global content industry is evolving.
“MIA was born as a challenge,” said market director Lucia Milazzotto who launched MIA in 2014. “Its great intuition has been to anticipate business models. It’s the first market to host the entire cycle of film, TV series, and documentary production – and now also factual and, increasingly, animation,” she noted. Milazzotto also pointed out that from the outset MIA embraced streaming platforms and this year is even opening up to “the world of social media and TikTok.”
“Certainly the growth in investments that [giant] streamers are making on European product now make the MIA market more important,” noted Giancarlo Leone, president of Italy’s TV producers’ association APA.
Leone cited a report that APA will present at MIA according to which streamers are expected to invest €120 million ($138 million) in Italy in 2021, while linear broadcasters, RAI, Mediaset and Sky will invest a total of €250 million ($289 million) this year. But by 2023 APA expects streamers and linear broadcasters will both each invest €250 million on Italian productions. “Streamers are increasing their production spend all across Europe,” said Leone, pointing out that, at least in Italy “this is not due to investment quotas” dictated by the EU’s recent AVMS directive, which Italy has still not implemented.
Francesco Rutelli, head of Italy’s motion picture association ANICA, underlined this year’s strong presence of high-caliber execs flying over from the U.S. As previously announced, these include Joe Russo who with his older brother Anthony co-directed 2019’s “Avengers: Endgame,” which is the highest grossing movie of all time; writer-producer Alon Aranya (“Hostages,” “Your Honor”); Emmy-winning documaker R.J. Cutler whose Billie Eilish doc is an Oscar contender this year, and producer Stuart Ford, chairman and chief executive officer of AGC Studios.
Rutelli, who is a former mayor of Rome, also pointed out that MIA is the only content market in the world “where you can meet and do business under a painting by Caravaggio or Raphael or even a Bernini statue.”
Palazzo Barberini, which is Italy’s National Ancient Art gallery, is also MIA’s main hub where company stands are set up amid Renaissance and Baroque masterpieces, while screenings are held in nearby movie theaters.
Previously announced feature film projects being pitched at MIA’s Co-Production Market and Pitching Forum comprise “After the Hurricane” by British director Julian Jarrold (“The Crown”); “Last Chord in Thessaloniki” by Israeli director Eran Riklis; and “Arturo’s Voice” by Italy’s Irene Dionisio (“Pawn Streets”).
Standout TV series projects, also previously announced, that are being brought to market see Italy’s Susanna Nicchiarelli (“Nico, 1988”) make her first venture into television with her own project, a show titled “Fireworks”; while London-based producers Paula A. Vaccaro will be pitching a series titled “Coverdale” produced by her Pinball London shingle; the U.K.’s Three Rivers Fiction and Cyprus-based Caretta Films have “Farpoint,” for which Germany’s ZDF Enterprises is on board as distributor; and “D’Artagnan and Co.,” created by France’s Yann Le Gal (“Léo Mattéï, Brigade des Mineurs”), and being lead-produced by Belgium’s AT-Production.
Among high-profile docs being pitched is “Queen of Chess,” the real story of Hungary’s Judit Polgar, considered the greatest female chess player of all time, and her antagonism with Russia’s Garry Kasparov, who before being beat by her was a male chauvinist. The five-episode doc series is being directed by Hungary’s Bernadett Tuza-Ritter (“A Woman Captured”).
On the animation front, an Italian animation showcase sees “Arctic Friends – Puffins,” produced by Iervolino and Lady Bacardi Entertainment, featuring the voice of Johnny Depp in the role of Johnny Puff; “Pinocchio and Friends,” the new toon series from “Winx” maker Rainbow; and “Yaya e Lennie – The Walking Liberty,” by Neapolitan animation auteur Alessandro Rak (“Cinderella the Cat”), which launched from Locarno and will soon go on theatrical release in Italy.
The seventh edition of MIA, which is taking place alongside the Rome Film Festival, will run Oct. 13-17.