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Tommaso Arrighi • Producer

“We wanted to make an Icelandic co-production with a European feel to it”


- We spoke to Mood Film producer Tommaso Arrighi about the Italian-Icelandic co-production Two Small Italians by Paolo Sassanelli, which is due to hit Italian cinemas on 14 June

Tommaso Arrighi • Producer

Two Small Italians [+see also:
interview: Tommaso Arrighi
film profile
by Paolo Sassanelli, distributed in Italian cinemas from 14 June by Key Films, is a fairly unusual Italian-Iceland co-production, which came about after a meeting between Tommaso Arrighi's Mood Film and Gudrun Edda Thorhannesdottir's Duo Productions (with the support of Eurimages, MIBACT, and the regions of Puglia and Lazio). Arrighi already has various documentaries and short films to his name (two directed byPaolo Sassanelli) and three feature films. The first being Aquadro [+see also:
film review
film profile
by Stefano Lodovichi (awarded at three festivals) produced by Rai Cinema and IDM Sudtirol South Tyrol, the second being Two Little Italians and the third one, currently in post-production, being L'ospite byDuccio Chiarini, co-producedwith Switzerland (Cinedokke) and France (House on Fire), as well as Rai Cinema and RSI and in association with Relief and Bravado, with the support of the Region of Lazio, MIBACT, Eurimages, UFC and TFL. The film was also developed at Cinéfondation La Résidence and TorinoFilmLab and was presented at the Berlinale Co-Production Market.

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Cineuropa: Did Two Little Italians come about following your previous collaboration with the director?
Tommaso Arrighi: As a producer my fixation is to find new talent. I was sceptical about an actor going into directing, but I had seen how good Paul was at directing children on the set of the short film Uerra – I felt his sensitivity. After all, he has always directed theatrical performances, the most recent being Servo per due in 2014 starring Pierfrancesco Favino – a box office hit.

And how did Iceland end up getting involved in the production?
The co-production was a result of the project. I produced two short films by Paolo Sassanelli, after which we decided to start creating a feature film, and right from the start Paolo was clear about ​​wanting to make a film with a European feel to it, in which there was a journey. Iceland was his "little obsession." He suggested several countries in northern Europe, but in the end,  Iceland seemed the most suitable, both from a narrative and co-productive point of view.

Lately Iceland has been attracting co-productions with various incentives.
Yes, they have a cash rebate, which has grown to 25% over time, which was a rather important hook. And then strategically I always thought that given its musical traditions, having a local musician might enhance the project. In the end the soundtrack was created by an Italian composer, Giorgio Giampà, and an Icelandic composer Gyda Valtýsdóttir, a composer and singer who is part of múm. As a cellist, Gyda has collaborated with other international directors, such as the Swedish director Teresa Fabik, the French-Indian director Prashant Nair, the American director Drake Doremus. Those sounds were important for Paul because of the contrast with the south of Italy. Eurimages also got involved in the coproduction, very important for us small producers who are trying to grow. I thought that an Italian-Icelandic co-production might have more potential than one with the Netherlands or Denmark.

However, the Netherlands is also involved with its incentive scheme for international co-productions.
Yes. While following our artistic and financial journey, we had a particular stop-off in mind. The director was initially set on Hamburg, because his wife is from that city and Paul knows it well, but in the end, we weren’t able to finance the project in Germany. We ended up seeking help from a country that could offer us resources. The Netherlands also has a cash rebate system of up to 35%. We made some changes to the script and with good team work we secured the film's production.

What advice would you give to a young producer?
Travel a lot, try to participate in European workshops, go to markets. I've done it for years with Cannes and Berlin. When making Two Little Italians I contacted numerous Icelandic producers, until I met the right person: Gudrun Edda Thorhannesdottir. Icelandic producers’ core business is about offering a service, because many people go to that region due to its unique landscapes. We had a relationship with Gudrun for a few years, because our German partner fell through, and despite the fairly small budget, we decided to make the film anyway.

What role did the local regions and the films commissions have?
They played a vital role for us. Although Paolo is from Puglia, getting support from the region wasn’t a given. We shot three quarters of the film in Bari, and in the Netherlands, in order to take advantage of the Apulia Film Fund and optimise resources. In Puglia there are many valuable professionals, filming there is by no means a compromise to get funding, it’s an opportunity.

(Translated from Italian)

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