Hot Docs: Italy, Canada Launch Documentary Co-Production Fund

'Sacro GRA'

Director: Gianfranco Rossi
In Competition

Gianfranco Rossi filmed for more than two years in a minivan on Rome’s giant ring road, the Grande Raccordo Anulare.

Gianfranco Rosi's 'Sacro GRA' winning the 2013 Golden Lion in Venice has spurred a film development pact between Canada and Italy, which was unveiled at Hot Docs in Toronto.

For decades, Italian film meant visually stunning landscapes and romantic intrigue from auteur directors.

But Gianfranco Rosi's Sacro GRA, an Italian documentary about life on the ring road circling Rome, winning Venice's Golden Lion two years ago, changed all that for Nicola Borelli, director of cinema at Italy's ministry of culture and tourism.

So Borelli and Valerie Creighton, president and CEO of the Canadian Media Fund, were at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival on Tuesday to unveil a documentary co-production fund to jointly develop Canada-Italy films originally hatched at the Canadian festival last year.

"We really want to support the internationalization of the Italian audiovisual sector and, thanks to this collaboration, I’m sure it will be possible," Borelli told The Hollywood Reporter. The goal of the documentary coin, which follows similar funds between Italy and partners in France, Germany, Brazil and Argentina, is to get Italian producers casting internationally for co-production partners and financing.

Filmmakers in Canada and Italy are also looking to tap tax credit and co-production coin on offer in their respective territories as both countries face shrinking public subsidy pools due to austerity-driven governments. "Today’s announcement is a reflection of the CMF’s commitment to provide access to diverse sources of funding for Canadian documentary producers and supports our objective to foster mutually beneficial relationships between content creators from Canada and their counterparts in key co-production countries,” added the CMF's Creighton in a statement.

Faced with Netflix Canada, YouTube and other U.S. digital platforms dominating the Canadian video space, the CMF unveiled earlier media funds with agency partners in Belgium, Brazil and New Zealand to generate international collaborations.

The latest incentive fund with Italy is set at $200,000, with each partner investing half of the total amount. Eligible documentaries must be a feature-length film destined for theatrical release in Italy and broadcast in Canada, and must involve at least one Canadian producer and one Italian producer.