Italian films and added content crossing borders
by Elisabetta Brunella
If we had to quote a title to represent Italian cinema in European theatres in 2020, the choice would have to be "Il Traditore" / "The Traitor". After its presentation at Cannes in 2019 and immediate distribution in Italy, Bellocchio's film, co-produced with France, Germany and Brazil, started to reach several international markets that year, continuing its journey in the following one.
And so, in 2020, this drama, which brings onto the big screen the true story of the boss who broke the Mafia, won first place amongst the Italian films viewed in the Netherlands and also in Austria, and - with regard to other German-language territories - third place in Switzerland and Germany. In the United Kingdom, instead, it came in sixth place In the Baltic countries, it was placed third in Estonia and sixth in Latvia, whilst in other countries in Central-Eastern Europe we find it second in Romania and Slovenia, third in the Slovak Republic, fourth in Poland, sixth in the Czech Republic, eighth in Hungary. It also obtained good - or even excellent - positions in the Balkans, where it came second in Montenegro, third in Greece, fourth in Bulgaria and sixth in Serbia.
The affirmation of "Il Traditore" is based on tried and tested success factors, which range from the ability and fame of the director up to the appeal of the Mafia theme, not forgetting the co-production formula. But which other titles appear in the top ten Italian films abroad, often in the company of this internationally popular work? From this perspective the scenario is quite varied. If in the Swiss Confederation we find a comedy with broad appeal, like "Tolo Tolo", in Germany the co-production "J'accuse" / "An Officer and a Spy" reaped success, also making its mark in Greece, Estonia and Latvia, Bulgaria and Poland. But comedy, which is often considered a genre unsuited for export, also appears in Austria, where "Croce e delizia" / "An Almost Ordinary Summer" came in second place, followed by the Italo-Austrian co-production "Abbi fede" / "Have faith". Amongst the titles that appear most often, "Martin Eden" and "Made in Italy" stand out. The film freely inspired by Jack London's novel but set in Naples instead of Oakland, was particularly appreciated in Spain (second place), Montenegro, Romania and Serbia (third), Estonia (fifth), Slovenia, Hungary and the Netherlands (seventh). The co-production directed by James D'Arcy and shot in Tuscany, whose soundtrack includes the voices of heroes like Modugno, Pavarotti, Bocelli and Mina, heads the Bel Paese's charts in the Slovak Republic, Portugal, Poland, Romania, Latvia and Estonia. Of course "Pinocchio" is not absent from the scene, winning top place in the charts in the United Kingdom, as in Norway, Spain, the Czech Republic, Serbia and Montenegro. It comes in second place in the Slovak Republic, Switzerland and Russia, and third in Slovenia and Turkey, fifth in Greece.
Then there are the rather special cases of "Leo da Vinci - Missione Monna Lisa", the animated film for young people which came in first place in Bulgaria, continuing a series of successes lasting since 2018, or "Un'avventura" / "Forever you", the interesting film in which Marco Danieli breathes new life into the genre of the musical, starting out from Lucio Battisti's repertory, and wins second place in Hungary. Moreover, there is no lack of countries where the top slots see works that have created cinema history and have been relaunched in restored 4K versions, such as "Nuovo Cinema Paradiso" / "Cinema Paradiso" in first place in Finland, second in Norway and fourth in the United Kingdom, or "La Dolce Vita", in second place in Latvia and in the United Kingdom, sixth in the Netherlands.
Lastly, how could we fail to emphasise yet again the great contribution that added content has made and continues to make to Italy's cultural prestige worldwide? Just a few examples: in the realm of classical painting, "Io, Leonardo" is second in Bulgaria, fourth in Latvia and ninth in Portugal, "Tintoretto: un ribelle a Venezia" is fifth in the United Kingdom and sixth in Spain, "Michelangelo infinito" sixth in Bulgaria, whilst in the realm of contemporary art, "Walking on Water", which brings Christo's installation on Lake d'Iseo to the whole world, comes fifth in Bulgaria, sixth in the Slovak Republic and eighth in the Czech Republic.
Considerable success has been achieved by the most recent productions dedicated to Modigliani - "Maledetto Modigliani" / "Maverick Modigliani" which is third in Finland and tenth in the Czech Republic as in Hungary - and to Fellini: "Fellini degli Spiriti" / "Fellini of the Spirits" which comes seventh in Austria and twelfth in Hungary.
And why not mention that new offers of the evergreens of Italian cinema history, as well as added content - in particular art films - are playing a crucial role in guaranteeing regular and continuous programming for those who, everywhere in the world, love Italy and its artistic expression?
This article was published in the Giornate Professionali special issue of Cinema & Video Int'l, the MEDIA Salles media partner.
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