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Gaetano Maiorino • Managing Director and Head of Acquisitions, True Colours

“We’ve filled a void and given value to Italian films on international markets”

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- On the occasion of the MIA’s opening, we spoke with Gaetano Maiorino about how True Colours has managed to enhance the value of its line-up on international markets

Gaetano Maiorino  • Managing Director and Head of Acquisitions, True Colours

Founded just five years ago, True Colours swiftly established itself as the go-to group for acquiring Italian films on the international market, and the same now applies to foreign titles too. We chatted with Gaetano Maiorino, on the opening of Rome’s MIA market, about how True Colours has successfully enhanced the value of the films on its line-up, and about how it’s tackling the new challenges posed by the market transformations that have been brought about by the pandemic.

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Cineuropa: True Colours was born 5 years ago as a result of an initiative between Paolo Sorrentino’s production company Indigo and the independent distributor Lucky Red.
Gaetano Maiorino
: The company was created with the idea of working with titles hailing from those firms – we were able to travel to Cannes thanks to Indigo’s Lucky [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Sergio Castellitto
film profile
]
and Euphoria [+see also:
film review
trailer
making of
film profile
]
– but it eventually grew to work with a variety of partners. Right from the outset, in our first line-up in 2016, we took up films from Cinemaundici, BiBi Film, Warner, Vision, Picomedia, Trump, Palomar, Medusa and included highly independent titles such as I Was A Dreamer [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Alessandro Borghi
interview: Michele Vannucci
film profile
]
by Kino Produzioni and Deliver Us [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
by MIR Cinematografica, both of which were selected (and the latter awarded a trophy) in Venice’s Orizzonti competition.    

In 2015, the company took part in the MIA Market for the very first time and proved to be a real novelty in the Italian landscape.
It filled a void. With the exception of films by the bigger auteurs, there was a whole raft of films which weren’t ever considered for the international market. Catia Rossi had come to us from RAI Trade and RAI Com, and was working exclusively on Italian products. She could see their potential and, alongside True Colours, she tried to create value; that is, to create lists based upon intentions ranging from the discovery of new voices to the retention of emerging authors and high-profile directors, not to mention enhancing the value of films which have greater commercial potential than arthouse films. This allowed us to encompass the various types of films produced in Italy.

In 2017, you started working on non-Italian films.
The idea was to position ourselves as the go-to group for Italian films for the international market, but also for high-quality films of any nationality. So we simultaneously sought out titles by young authors which had been selected for the big festivals and which could act as forerunners for us and create a definitively international identity. The first opportunity came in the form of a Brazilian film, As duas Irenes, Fabio Meira’s first work, produced by Lacuna Filmes and selected for Berlin’s 2017 Generation line-up. We wanted to support new producers and new directors and grow alongside them. Next came two Spanish films: The Open Door [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
by Marina Seresesky (Meridional Producciones) and Distances [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Elena Trapé
film profile
]
by Elena Trapé (Coming Soon Films), which won a trophy in Malaga and was selected for San Sebastian. In September this year, we presented two first works in Venice: 200 Meters [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Ameen Nayfeh
film profile
]
by Palestinian director Ameen Nayfeh and Zanka Contact [+see also:
film review
film profile
]
by Ismael el Iraki, honoured with the Giornate degli Autori Audience Award and the Orizzonti Best Actress accolade, respectively. We also have Evi Romen’s Why Not You [+see also:
film review
film profile
]
on our line-up, which was voted Best Film in Zurich’s Focus section.

Inevitably, 2020 has been a year which has brought about great change within the film industry. How have you dealt with the crisis?
To deal with it, in terms of the market, we’ve gone on the offensive. The pandemic brought everything to a grinding halt in mid-March, after what was, for us, a highly successful 2020 Berlin market, resulting in excellent pre-sales, especially for Sergio Castellitto’s Il Materiale emotivo, and Paolo Genovese’s Supereroi which is still in production. We then finalised these contracts after the festival. Even when fears of cancellations hovered in the air, we still managed to firm up our relationships. In April, we developed and activated the True Colours Virtual Cinema platform, a virtual auditorium for our partner festivals which provides content and digital infrastructure for local events as well as for cultural institutes around the world scheduling screenings of Italian films. All those enterprises which enhance the circulation of national cinema, from auteur cinema to more popular films, were brought to a halt, so we made sure they could resume their activities.

How are you tackling the markets, given that almost all of them have moved online?
Paradoxically, we approach them as if they were real ones, with the same commitment and number of meetings. You can’t replace face-to-face contact, but the Cannes market worked, and the MIA will act as another testbed. We’ve done some good work in the field of works in progress, heightening our presence at events which allow us to scout out new projects, small events where a tiny gem with the potential to do the rounds at a hundred festivals might jump out at you. Naturally, what I’m really hoping is that cinemas get back to business quickly, because these are the main venues where we look to exhibit our titles.

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(Translated from Italian)

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