Torino FF (Nov 20-28) to retain high doc numbers despite cuts to rest of programme

Torino FF (Nov 20-28) to retain high doc numbers despite cuts to rest of programme

35% budget cut means fewer films in overall selection but doc levels same as 2019 with 8 films each in Italian/international programmes. At Cannes, Torino FF presents 4 docs-in-progress, together with Festival dei Popoli and the Piemonte/Toscana Film Commissions.


“The documentary section curated by Davide Oberto will not be reduced [in 2020], because we think that documentaries are a very strong part of our proposal,” Torino Film Festival director Stefano Francia di Celle told Business Doc Europe at the start of Cannes Marché.


“The work that Davide is doing with his crew is amazing, so we have [again] divided the competition into eight international documentaries and eight Italian docs…We think that this must not be reduced.”


Di Celle stressed how, during a difficult period for the sector, he wanted Torino to be present at “the rebirth of documentary and of doc production,” and underlined the November festival’s commitment to a section dedicated to documentary works-in-progress, adding that the year-round promotion of documentaries-to-come is also of key importance, at events such as Cannes Docs.


During online Cannes Marché he is presenting four advanced documentary works-in-progress, together with his home film commission of Torino Piemonte, the Florence-based Festival dei Popoli (also held in November) and the Toscana Film Commission. “Torino and Florence have close dates and so we have to work very closely together to promote the documentaries in the best way,” says Di Celle. 


At Cannes, two of the docs-in-progress are proposed by Torino/Piemonte and two by Florence/Toscana.


The Italian/Moroccan La vita in mezzo (Life In Between) is directed by docmaker Andrea Parena. In the film Omar, the child of Moroccan immigrant Hassan, refuses to return to Morocco, in order to stay with his Italian girlfriend and child, but she refuses to convert to Islam, at which point he contemplates an arranged marriage to a Moroccan woman. “It is a very inter-cultural project between Italy and Morocco and very strong in stressing the importance of the psychological and social matters within these lives that are separated on the point of social and cultural issues,” says Di Celle of the €120,000 budget doc (60% of finance in  place).


The other Piemonte project is Lassù (Up There), directed by Bartolomeo Pampaloni and produced by Enrica Capra (GraffitiDoc, Italy) and Francesca Feder (Aeternam, France). The film concerns Nino who, 20 years ago, decided to elevate himself out of his humdrum existence as a construction worker in Palermo to become an artist. “This is another look at workers, again [examining] very strong social issues… That transition from the normal life of the worker to artist [makes it] a very interesting cross-cultural film,” says Di Celli. The producers are looking to raise the final 40% of the €188,000 budget and are also seeking festival interest, distribution deals and a sales agent during Cannes online.


Another doc-in-development is Bosco, directed by Alicia Cano and 13 years in the making, which links the tiny Italian village of Bosco with the village of Orlando in Uruguay. Production notes state how we are placed in a timeless limbo as the film ($250,000 budget, 78% in place) explores what remains when everything seems fated to disappear. The producers are looking to gain festival, sales and distribution interest.


In Tommaso Landucci’s Caveman, for the past 30 years Filippo has been sculpting a vast male nude into the marble of a cave 650 metres deep. But the discovery of his cancer radically changes his lifestyle, and he is pushed back into darkness, but this time there is no way to get back to light. The €300,000 debut doc feature has 83% of the budget in place. During Cannes Docs, producers Marco Visalberghi (Doclab, Italy) and Ivan Madeo (Contrast Film, Switzerland) will be looking to garner distribution, broadcast and festival interest, as well as a sales agent.


All four films have preferred 2020 release dates, but Di Celle suggests these may be optimistic in the present climate. “It’s so difficult to say because the industry is now still waiting for dedicated rules from the government. I think the producers will have a clearer idea of what will happen in terms of production timing after July, according to the situation [then].”