“Italy is playing an important role within European cinema”

A number of European film producers will get together in Pisa in April 2015 on the occasion of the upcoming ACE (Ateliers du Cinéma Européen) meeting. The outline for the annual gathering was presented at the Rome International Film Festival; the rendezvous sees the participation of all of the producers who are members of ACE, and it is therefore an important date during which co-production forums, seminars and workshops are organised with the aim of encouraging the creation of new partnerships among key players in the film industry.

For the president and CEO of Luce CinecittàRoberto Cicutto, who was also the secretary general of the association, “the meetings between the producers who are members of ACE, and who come from various countries, do not only create opportunities for co-productions, but above all also offer the chance to talk and understand whether a project really deserves to be produced – and so ACE provides an opportunity to learn how to do the difficult job of a producer”.

On the occasion of this presentation, Cineuropa asked Al Williams, producers liaison and network coordinator at ACE, three questions.

Cineuropa: Why Pisa?  Al Williams: We have decided to go to Pisa this year for a number of reasons. Firstly, ACE hasn’t held an annual reunion in Italy for ten years, and considering the strong group of Italian producers that form part of our network, we thought it was time that we rectify that. Rai Cinema has always been a strong supporter of ACE, and Cecilia Valmarana is a member of our board. She, along with Tuscan ACE producer Simone Bachini, helped us to enter into a dialogue with the Toscana Film Commission, and we realised that an ACE annual reunion in Pisa would be the ideal outcome. When visiting Pisa, we were struck not only by the romanticism of the city, but also by the often overlooked industry in the town. With a huge number of talented professionals in and around the city, we decided that it would be the perfect place to take our network of producers. Also, this year, the Toscana Film Commission is holding the presidency of the Italian Film Commissions association, which means that Pisa is perfectly placed to represent the landscape of Italian cinema. Italy has always played an important role within European cinema, and so it’s right that we now take our members there to discover the new possibilities that the city of Pisa, the region of Tuscany and Italy itself have to offer.

What is the aim of the annual reunion? The ACE producers’ annual reunion is ACE’s most important event of the year, always taking place in a different country in April. The reunion allows the year’s new members to meet their older counterparts, thus creating the unique atmosphere and originality of ACE’s core networking event. It gives the members a chance to get together outside of the busyness of the festivals, to catch up on each other’s work and discuss collaborations. Over the course of this three-day reunion, ACE organises a Co-production Forum with professionals from the host country, seminars and the annual members’ meeting.

It is an excellent occasion to meet and mix with local professionals, negotiate collaborations, and discover a new city, its shooting locations and technical services. Furthermore, for the professionals based in the host country, it is a unique opportunity to present their companies, projects and industry to prestigious colleagues from some 40 countries.

In your opinion, what is the state of development of film co-productions in Europe? Co-producing in Europe has become more and more necessary, as it has got more difficult to finance films through one country alone. Co-productions also open up possibilities for films to get larger audiences and to be shown across a much wider number of territories.

One of ACE’s aims is to assist in developing as many collaborations between countries as possible, and after our 21 years and over 200 members, things are looking positive. According to a questionnaire that we conducted, over 63% of our members have co-produced a film with another producer in the network over the last three years. And this is only within the network – when it comes to co-producing with producers from other countries in general, the number is obviously even higher.