While the Venice Film Festival is poised to lead the way among top-tier film events a trio of smaller Italian summer fests with international standing is now also set to hold physical editions prior to September when the Lido plans to take its post-pandemic plunge.
Restrictions are rapidly lifting in Italy, where the coronavirus curve is finally flattening after the longest lockdown in Europe. Starting Wednesday Italy is allowing travelers from the 25 other members of the Schengen visa-free travel area that covers much of Europe to enter the country with no restrictions.
And, along with Venice topper Alberto Barbera, several other Italian fest chiefs are busy trying to rise to the challenge of not cancelling their events or making them go entirely digital.
Italy’s first post-lockdown shindig, barring complications, will be the annual Ischia Global Film and Music Fest, renamed “Ischia Smart 2020” this year, and set to be held July 12-19 on the island of Ischia off the coast of Naples. The informal networking shindig, which is a sister event to Capri Hollywood, has secured the presence of former Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, of Italian/Canadian producer Andrea Iervolino, and Italian multi-hyphenate Carolina Rosi, who will serve as president of the upcoming 18th edition, says fest founder and chief Pascal Vicedomini. Rosi, who is an actress, director and producer, is the daughter of late great Italian director Francesco Rosi. Rosi’s doc about her father “Citizen Rosi” screened at Venice last year. Italian singer/songwriter and music producer Tony Renis (pictured at Ischia with Quincy Jones) will serve as honorary chairman.
“I’m getting plenty of requests (to attend),” says Vicedomini, who notes that flights from New York to Rome are already open, and “there are lots of producers with films who didn’t have any windows in the preceding festivals and want visibility.” Vicedomini has been talking to Ischia regulars, including Fox Searchlight Pictures president David Greenbaum, and multi-hyphenates Bobby Moresco and Paul Haggis, in hopes of being able to bring over some U.S. talents for the customary bridge-building meets between Hollywood and the Italian and European film industries that Ischia and Capri are known for. Digital link-ups will be used for talents with films at Ischia unable to make the trek. “It will be a mixed formula,” says Vicedomini. As for Italians, Ischia will be honoring Roman siblings Fabio and Damiano D’Innocenzo, who won the Silver Bear in Berlin with “Bad Tales” earlier this year.
The next Italian summer festival now on the agenda is Filming Italy Sardegna, on the island of Sardinia, set for July 22-26 in the Forte Village resort near the capital city of Cagliari, where all guests will undergo complimentary coronavirus tests upon arrival.
“We consulted with a medical committee and decided to follow a protocol combining two very fast non-invasive (coronavirus) tests to all our guests,” says Tiziana Rocca, the former Taormina Film Festival chief who two years ago launched this innovative international event combining film and TV with a strong accent on women. Rocca says she never really considered canceling and “talked to lots of U.S. talents” during the lockdown. “They all love Italy and they all want to Arrive,” Rocca notes, adding that while she now has to sort out several aspects regarding American talents, including flights from Los Angeles, she is expecting a “substantial” European presence.
Meanwhile the Taormina Film Festival, which prior to the pandemic was scheduled to run June 28-July 4 under new management, has instead been postponed indefinitely, according to a publicist for the prominent Sicilian event.
Last but certainly not least, Italy’s Giffoni Film Festival for children is also going forward with a totally reconceived post-pandemic edition that will combine a substantial physical component and also a digital side, and is being split into three separate events for different age groups. The first part of the new format Giffoni will run Aug. 18-22, and will see more than 300 kids between the ages of 16 and 18 descend upon the southern Italian town, followed by another section for kids between 13 and 16 running Aug. 25-29, to then be segued Dec. 26-30 by Giffoni’s section for kids aged between 6 and 10.
Kids arriving in Giffoni will either have been previously tested for coronavirus or will be tested on arrival, says Giffoni founder and chief Claudio Gubitosi, who is proud of the fact that he “never had any hesitation” about going forward with the 50th edition of the unique cinematic holiday camp of sorts where kids, teens and young adults from all over the world watch movies, talk about them and judge them.
While for the past 49 years the kids at Giffoni were guests in local families, this year they are all being put up “in hotels, in single rooms if they are over 18, or in doubles if they are not, accompanied by a family member,” says Gubitosi. Meanwhile he expects a community of “at least 10,000 young people” around the world will follow the fest remotely.
Restaurants in Giffoni will be providing “social-distanced meals,” says Gubitosi. And the fest’s main screening venue, the 720-seat Sala Truffaut, “will accommodate no more than 200 kids, each with a mask on and subjected to temperature controls when they walk in,” Gubitosi notes. He’s lining up several international stars for digital linkups, while the Italian presence is ensured, including that of the Venice chief.
“I’ve asked Alberto Barbera to be by my side for the inaugural of the 50th edition,” says Gubitosi, who wants the Giffoni ceremony to stand as “another signal of Italian unity” in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.