Wildside CEO Mario Gianani Talks L’Immensità, Limonov’ and Fremantle – Deadline


Mario Gianani, CEO of Fremantle’s Rome-based The Young Pope and My Brilliant Friend production powerhouse Wildside, is enjoying a high-profile time on the international film festival circuit this year.

The producer, whose earlier feature film credits include Marco Bellocchio’s Vincere (2009) and Bernardo Bertolucci’s Io E Te (2012), was at Cannes this May with Belgian directorial duo Felix Van Groeningen and Charlotte Vandermeersch’s Jury Prize winner The Eight Mountains.

He is now at Venice with a quartet of Italian titles: Emanuele Crialese’s Golden Lion contender L’Immensità, Paolo Virzì’s Out of Competition title Siccità (Dry) and first features Amanda and Ghost Night.

Deadline talked to Gianani ahead of the world premiere on Sunday of the 1970s Rome-set drama L’Immensità, starring Penelope Cruz as a mother, whose daughter’s determination to identify as a boy pushes their fragile family dynamics to the edge.

DEADLINE: Emanuele Crialese’s recently revealed that the main child character in L’Immensità – a young girl who wants to be a boy – is inspired by his own childhood experiences.  What role did you play in helping to bring this complex story to the big screen?

GIANANI: The first time I talked to Emanuele about making a film related to that was several years ago. It took a lot of time to process. When we finally decided to work together, he had other ideas in mind and I said, “Look, come on, you have to do it, your way, respectfully about what you feel.” The film is personal but at the same time, it’s full of grace. He doesn’t use the film for politics, he’s making a film for him, about feelings, complexity and characters, and I like this.

DEADLINE: How easy was it to get the production off the ground?

 GIANANI: Emanuele hadn’t done a film for seven years, and the market was moving very fast. Other talents had been busy, and he hadn’t worked. That was a challenge. After seven years people ask questions. But his approach to the script and the way he talked about the film was so clear that it made sense to everybody. Take Penelope Cruz. She can choose any project she wants, and she took the risk on this. I felt we should be ambitious in scope, rather than make it on a smaller scale. I said, “This story needs to be spoken out loud today, not in the sense of being explicit, but loud in the sense of giving you the means to construct your images in your imagination.”

DEADLINE: How did you get French partners Dimitri Rassam at Chapter 2 and Pathé on board?

GIANANI: We have a good relationship with them. As soon as I had the script, I translated it and made them read it. To be honest, France is a country that loves Emanuele’s work. They kind of adopted him, after his beginnings at Cannes Critics’ Week [where his first film Respiro won the Grand Prix in 2002]. They were very receptive. They loved the script and immediately boarded the project. Thanks to Fremantle, which helped with the gap financing, with Dimitri, Pathé and pre-sales, we managed to complete the budget without needing to bring in other partners. It was a very natural partnership.

DEADLINE: Do you think your track record at Wildside helped in terms of getting partners and talent on board.

GIANANI: Every project is different from the rest. Of course, track record helps but we shouldn’t forget we’re also backed by Fremantle, and in a very generous way. Being part of a bigger company and the Fremantle world, helps on these bigger scale European projects.



DEADLINE: You also have Paolo Virzi’s Siccità (Dry) at Venice. How did you connect with the director?

GIANANI: We’ve been trying to work on a project together for many years. I introduced Paolo Virzì to the writer and screenwriter Paolo Giordano, who I’ve known for many years. I thought the two of them could have a connection. Paolo Virzì is always very interested in the contemporary and Paolo Giordano is also very grounded in the present because of his scientific background [he holds a PhD in particle physics]. He brought this idea of the drought that happened in Cape Town a few years ago.

The two of them connected on it immediately. It was during the lockdown. They started writing and it went on fast. I had one request for Paolo [Virzì] and that was to do a film shot after the lockdown that gives us a sense of what has stayed in our souls after this period.

Paolo [Virzi] has always been fine-tuned with the spirit in which Italians are living. I think the two Paolos nailed it. It’s so difficult to capture the contemporary state. People often go into genre or the past. Capturing a picture of now is a difficult exercise. I think people in Italy will recognize a bit of Italy and themselves in the characters.

DEADLINE: You’re also involved in producing emerging talents, working with Annamaria Morelli and Antonio Celsi at independent company Elsinore Films on Amanda by Carolina Cavalli and Ghost Night by Fulvio Risulio, which play in Horizons and Horizons Extra respectively. Can you talk a bit about this aspect of your producing work?

GIANANI: Working with new talents is essential. It’s the reason why I do this job. Working with great talent is great, it’s fun, it’s fantastic but part of your job is done because they know what they’re doing.

When you work with first-time directors, they look at you in a completely different way. You need that look and you also need that responsibility. It’s a beautiful part of this job. I couldn’t do without it. It’s also a kind of a social responsibility for big companies to promote independent, smaller producers, who have find it harder to access to finance. I’ve known Annamaria for many years. We worked together at Mediaset back in the 1990s and I expect this collaboration to continue.

As Wildside on our own, we’re also producing first-time director Simone Bozzelli. He is a very talented guy, a shining talent under 30, who comes from a remote area in Italy. He brings light to everything he does. We’ve just finished shooting his first film Patagonia and we’re editing it now. It’s a love story between two young men. The protagonist has a slightly masochistic approach to love and encounters someone who is more sadist in his approach to life. It stars two young actors cast from the streets, two very incredible faces. It features beautiful photography and Simone manages to make everything seem credible even if the situation is unbalanced.

DEADLINE: Wildside is also in production on Kirill Serebrennikov’s Limonov, based on an adaptation by Pawel Pawlikowski of French writer and filmmaker Emmanuelle Carrère’s book about the controversial Russian poet and political dissident Edouard Limonov. Do you have an update?

That’s another long story. We took the rights to the book six years ago. Pawel Pawlikowski came on board to write and direct, and we financed the film but then he changed his mind.

We kept the script. It was a fantastic script, as ever. He managed to condense the story into 80-pages and it’s great.

We were looking for alternatives, for Russian directors. An agent put us in contact with Kirill Serebrennikov and it was a fantastic meeting. We asked him if he knew the character of Limonov and he pulled out a picture, showing himself as an 18-year-old next to the real Limonov.

It all came together very naturally but again it was complex. We had been shooting for three weeks in Moscow and then there was the invasion. We had reconstructed New York in Moscow, so we had to lose the whole set and rebuild in Riga. We stopped for a few months and restarted in August and will be finished in the coming days.

We’re very proud. We think this is a very timely project. It explains a lot about how we got to where we are today. Limonov is the seed of everything. He was an isolated man and a loser. As often happens in life, losers embody that something that is the belly of a larger community. A few years later, [his writing] has become a very sharp prediction of what is happening now, but we didn’t understand at the time.

DEADLINE: Working in the Latvian capital of Riga with a Russia director must have raised some eyebrows and been tricky locally?

Yes it was. Fremantle have been very patient with us. We’re co-producing again with Dimitri and Pathé. All the partners are so passionate, and it has become a mission to deliver the film and well.

Nothing was simple. We had to cut everything with Russia and wait for Kirill to get out of Russia. And get rid of any financing from Russia. It was very hard, but we had to do it and felt it was the right way to go. We felt very sheltered by Fremantle, who said we took on this engagement, so we’ll do what it takes to do it. And now it’s finally close to an end.

DEADLINE: Shooting has also just started on Saverio Costanzo’s Finalmente Alba, set against the world of 1950s Cinecittà, in his first film in eight years, having been busy with the Italian remake of In Treatment and then My Brilliant Friend.

GIANANI: I’m so happy he has come back to cinema after friend. He was not afraid to do another period piece after The Brilliant Friend because he changed his approach towards the period. I’ve been working with Saverio since his first documentaries back in early 2000s. So for me, working with him is like part of me and I think he’s doing an incredible job. We’re shooting the film and will be finished by November.

DEADLINE: Do you have any other feature projects in the works?

GIANANI: We have another national project we haven’t announced yet by an Italian comedian, which is very original and more in the social comedy space.

We have another two projects, one of which might have a festival outcome, but I can’t talk about that now. And then next year, we’ll be working on a lot of TV series. After working mainly on films, we’ll mainly be doing TV. I don’t know how it happened. It was random.

DEADLINE: Given all the features you have coming down the pipeline for release are you concerned about the depressed theatrical box office in Italy which has yet to recover from the pandemic lockdowns?

 GIANANI: Of course. It’s also very sad because cinema is a very democratic place. People can say what they like and what they don’t like through what they go to see. There’s no data controlling anyone. It’s obvious, you cannot lie. If we lose cinema consumption, we lose a lot. I don’t think we realise how much we’re losing.

People say we’re just changing the way we watch film, content. Maybe it doesn’t matter in terms of economics, but in terms of consumption, it really matters.  When we think about a film for theatrical release, the first thing we think about is the audience, we know the public. When we do something for platforms, we get algorithms and we don’t necessarily get a full picture of the results, even if we get a sense of them.

I think we’re passing from one era to another. Some of it has to do with infrastructure. After Covid, theatres were scary places. There needs to be a transition in the way we conceive places where we see films. I think it’ll be a big revolution. I know big real estate investments are happening in that field. People want to reconceive the theatre. it will take years because it’s infrastructure. But I think once this transition has happened, people will come back

DEADLINE: Platforms, which have also played a part in Wildside’s success, are also reining in investment, is that a worry?

GIANANI: A few years everyone was doing TV series. I remember people telling me, “We only do TV because cinema is dead.” Now every single established director I know only wants to make films.

Five years ago, platforms only wanted to rely on very high-end quality product, but that business model isn’t really working so now they’ll take ads.

As producers, we want clarity because we need to programme but they keep changing the model. We have to stop thinking that they own the truth and understand that they [the platforms] are moving along with reality just like us… it means everything will always be a negotiation and that what they want will change but we have to come to terms with that reality.

DEADLINE You work closely with Lorenzo Gangarossa at Wildside. How do you divide up your activities?

GIANANI: Lorenzo joined me seven years ago. I like to share my position with as many people as possible because I think this is natural. There is no other work where you share as much as you do as producer. A film is a collective staff activity. It’s never only a single person’s job. I like this approach. And I would like to expand so that a few other producers come to Wildside and sign projects themselves soon. Lorenzo is very precious. I could never make as many productions without him.

DEADLINE: In 2020 you took up the post of sole CEO of Wildside after company co-founder partner Lorenzo Mieli set up his own production company – The Apartment Pictures – under the Fremantle fold. Are you completely separate now? Do you ever work together?

We work under the Fremantle umbrella but we’re free to work on our own projects. From the Fremantle perspective, that was very clever. One company has a ceiling in terms of how many projects it can do it, but when you have two companies, two different entities, they produce more, and this has been the result. We coordinate. We don’t go for the same talent or compete on the same things. Now there is also Lux Vide [which was acquired by Fremantle in March]. It’s pretty clever from the perspective of delivering more and more product because the demand for product is big and Fremantle has to respond to that. And I think this was the efficient way to do it.

DEADLINE: When you started out in the Italian film industry in the 2000s, did you ever imagine that you would end up making shows and films with such international reach?

Fremantle played its part in this. It was brave and bold enough to take talent to another level of achievement. There was this belief that the American market was untouchable.  I think where Lorenzo [Mieli] and I were clever was to understand that it was the right time to be part of a group [Wildside was acquired by Fremantle in 2015]. People at the time thought by being part of a group, we would lose our independence, while we thought the opposite and we were right. Other people we know who didn’t do that passage as quickly took longer to get into that space. So, I think the timing was really crucial. We had two fantastic boxes, Cécile Frot-Coutaz, who now runs Sky Studios, and Andrea Scrosati now. They were fantastic and got It immediately and stood back and that was great.


Source link

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *