Tiziana Rocca: “Filming Italy, Hollywood and the many challenges of my festival”

The Italian cinema, Nero, Hollywood: in conversation with the director of Filming Italy Los Angeles

Tiziana Rocca with Giancarlo Giannini at the Walk of Fame in 2023.

BERLIN – If there is someone who has been fighting for years to export Italian cinema abroad, without a doubt, it is Tiziana Rocca, who, in a few days, on February 26, will set off from Hollywood with the ninth edition of Filming Italy – Los Angeles, a festival created and directed by her. This time too, it is realized in collaboration with the Italian Institute of Culture in Los Angeles, directed by Emanuele Amendola, with APA (Association of Audiovisual Producers), and under the auspices of the Consulate General of Italy in Los Angeles. Filming Italy has always aimed, in addition to promoting Italy as a film set and building a bridge between Italian and American culture, to support Italian cultural growth through cinema. “It is an honor this year to confer the Lifetime Achievement Award to Franco Nero, a man and actor whom I immensely admire, and to host Matteo Garrone, a great friend of the festival, in anticipation of Oscar night.”

Tiziana Rocca with Giancarlo Giannini on the Walk of Fame.

Taking a step back: how much has Filming Italy grown in nine years?
A lot, a whole lot. Year after year, we have grown thanks to an infinite amount of work and effort because in Hollywood, no one gives you anything for free, and certainly, no one recommends you; on the contrary. So, year after year, I have earned the trust of people in the industry, and step by step, I managed to position Filming Italy in a place where today it is – in fact – one of the most anticipated moments for promoting Italian cinema in the United States. And it is awaited by both the general audience and industry professionals.

This year you will start with Matteo Garrone, an Oscar nominee.
Yes, we will have Matteo and the protagonist of the film, Seydou Sarr, who will be honored during a special screening of Io Capitano. We followed the entire American campaign for the film, and it was a huge satisfaction to see it in the Academy’s shortlist. Let’s hope for the best. We’ll see what happens on March 10th.
Tiziana Rocca in one of the previous editions of Filming Italy.
One of the guests of this edition will be Franco Nero.
An icon of Italian cinema worldwide, always praised and loved by Quentin Tarantino. He will be awarded the Filming Italy Los Angeles Lifetime Achievement Award on the evening of February 29. We will screen a marathon of films dedicated to him, starting with Sergio Corbucci’s Django, of course. The festival serves to showcase the excellence of Italian productions, which can be represented by a star like him, but also by a film, a documentary, or by costume designers or set designers. With significant efforts in 2018, I managed to obtain a star on the Walk of Fame for Gina Lollobrigida, and last year for Giancarlo Giannini. I enjoy highlighting our talents..
And this year’s festival will also be on the platform.
Yes, we will be live, but without abandoning the digital platform that, in previous editions in America, reached over 600,000 viewers. On the platform, available to the American audience, there will be over sixty titles promoting Italian cinema, series, the great classics of the Classic section, documentaries, short films, debuts, and much more.
Gina Lollobrigida on the Walk of Fame in 2018.
A distinctive feature of Filming Italy is the variety of titles.
We are the only festival capable of bringing both comedies like those of Ficarra and Picone or Alessandro Siani – currently in theaters – along with dramatic films and art cinema. And then, since I am one of the few female festival directors, I want to emphasize the collaboration with Women in Film Italy and LA, which is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this year and supports women working in the world of cinema and behind the camera. Not surprisingly, this year we will also have directors in the lineup such as Ginevra Elkann, Roberta Torre, Kasia Smutniak. In short, a gigantic effort to give visibility and support to Italian films, and I want to thank the Italian productions and distributions that support and help us when we request films.
Nine years of Filming Italy. If you had to choose a memory?
Walking around Hollywood with Gina Lollobrigida was a wonderful adventure. She would stop on the street and tell me where she was going to have lunch with Howard Hughes and what she used to do when she came to America in the 1960s. There was a kind of devotion towards her from the Americans, even from journalists who had only seen her on a screen. But also witnessing the presentation of the star to Giancarlo Giannini was unforgettable: during the evening at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, he told me about Coppola, Brando, and the scenes from Seven Beauties with Lina Wertmüller. Truly unique and unrepeatable emotions. I like to highlight our talents for their uniqueness because they are greatly loved abroad and deserve to be celebrated for their incredible careers.
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