During the Torino Film Festival, the Circolo dei Lettori hosted an event during which Alpi Film Lab handed out the Scarabeo Post-Production Award, followed by a panel discussion on the first results achieved by the program.
TFL’s program coordinator, Angelica Cantisani, and Alessandra Stefani, of Scarabeo Entertainment, invited on stage director Sophie Beaulieu and producer Camille Genaud, of Paris-based Paraíso Production, to receive the Scarabeo Post-Production Award, consisting of in-kind post-production services worth €12,000 ($12,500). The winning project is a fiction feature titled “American Heroes,” described as “a Western movie set in the French Alps.” In it, two stepbrothers set up a robbery to repay their late father’s debts. Stefani defined the script “lively, evocative and engaging,” and praised the development of the two lead characters.
The floor was then given to TFL Italia’s head of studies Francesco Giai Via, who talked through the first results achieved by Alpi Film Lab with production mentors Giovanni Pompili, of Italy’s Kino Produzioni, and Julie Billy, of June Films. Anna Ciennik, one of the lab’s script consultants, joined them later on.
Alpi Film Lab is a two-year initiative organized by TorinoFilmLab and Annecy Cinéma Italien with backing from the ALCOTRA European Regional Development Fund. Each year, 25 Italian and French professionals engage in a simulation of a cross-border co-production by participating in four residential and two online workshops. The team picks eight projects (four Italian and four French, each usually represented by a team of one producer and one director) and eight producers without a project (four from Italy, four from France). After the first teambuilding workshop, each project is matched with a cross-border producer without a project so that the newly-formed teams can work together on simulating co-production activities and develop their stories. The final pitching session allows them to present the projects to an audience of international decision-makers and set up one-to-one meetings.
“The whole purpose of this lab is to have people learning things they didn’t know before, [enjoy] experiences they never had. […] It has been, first and foremost, a simulation. Nobody had to sign anything. Then some of these collaborations turned into real co-production projects after having the chance of working together for eight months,” said Giai Via.
“We don’t live outside of reality. Reality is made of many institutions working on [strengthening] the co-operation between France and Italy. Through Alpi Film Lab we managed to involve them all,” he continued. Among the partners are ANICA, the CNC, the Film Commission Torino Piemonte, Unifrance and Italy’s Ministry of Culture.
Out of 16 projects (eight from Italy, eight from France), seven became real co-productions in the first year. The projects involved 14 territories between the two countries and 50 participants (24 women, 26 men), with 17 of them aged between 25-35, 28 aged between 34-45 and five aged over 40. The initiative involved over 30 experts for a total of 240 hours of online and in-person training activities.
Pompili stressed the quality of the professionals and the selected projects, which all started as “a lonely process” and later developed into something “more and more solid” in just eight months.
“It’s a unique experience because I’ve never seen a training initiative during which you are simulating a co-production. […] Oftentimes, people see co-production as a form of financing, and it’s true. But the idea of working, building a European cultural identity is to work together from the beginning. And that’s not easy. We’re all concerned, fearful about what we do and we’re very protective towards our ideas. If we learn to open up and listen, to receive feedback from a different angle, you can make your project bigger and stronger,” he further explained.
Billy added: “As a tutor, what was great is that you can spend quality time with your director, which you never do in your own town, during your [everyday] life. It’s creative time but also [useful] to get to know each other.”
Towards the end of the event, Ciennik said how the lab became an opportunity to understand each other’s cultural differences, making the projects more credible and able to subvert stereotypes. Moreover, she praised the lab’s team for their great job at scouting projects and regional producers: “France and Italy aren’t just Paris and Rome,” she said.