“I have always been fascinated by the relation between fiction and documentary film. I began as an assistant director to Roberta Torre for the film Tano da morire: that was my turning point. Since then I have always found it hard to stay within the boundaries of the box called fiction cinema”. A “Producer of the move” at the Croisette, Marco Alessi is the founder of the production company Dugong, created in 2010. He is a professional in the world of cinema, and moves with confidence along its borders: the lines separating fiction and documentary films, live action and animation, and more prosaically, between different countries. A few days ago he presented Samouni Road by Stefano Savona, at the Quinzaine des Realisateurs in Cannes, a perfect example of the editorial line dedicated to the hybridization of genres and languages, and oriented towards experimentation and co-productive dialogue between different countries.
How has Dugong evolved in these years?
The production debut happened with Tahir by Stefano Savona. Since then, I have naturally looked for hybrid forms in my production. I don’t rule out producing totally fiction or documentary works in the future, but what I prefer is the mix of genres and references.
As well as countries providing funds...
One must make virtue of need. It is not easy to find the resources for the projects that we carry out. When I opened the company I asked myself how they could make such beautiful films in Romania and the Czech Republic despite a shortage of means. I started frequenting the markets and I understood the value of networking, that allows us to achieve even the most improbable and crazy projects... that are sometimes awarded prizes because they are so daring.
One of these, we could say, is Samouni Road, whose preparation phase lasted years.
Yes, but is it on a good path. It’s being presented at the Quinzaine, it is sold internationally by Doc & Film International and by Jour de fete in France. We are closing a deal for its distribution in Italy.
Another project you are working on is Valentina Carnelutti’s debut as a director...
The title is Margherita. We did the film’s pitch in Salonicco, where we won first prize. We are writing the script. It’s a co-production with France and it will be shot between Italy and France, and part of the cast will be French as well. It’s a fiction film, but it’s the story of adolescent kids, so there will be improvisation. The cast of adult actors is being defined, but I can already say that Valentina won’t be in it.
You are also working on another Italian debut.
It is the debut of Licia Eminenti, the author of shorts screened at Cannes. Hir film is called L’angelo and it is the story of children that takes places in upper Lazio. Laetizia Casta has already been confirmed in the cast: she will be a children’s friend, helping them develop. It’s a simple but universal film, portraying children in a crucial phase of their life. If all goes well we should begin shooting at the end of the year. It’s a coproduction between Italy and France.
Any other projects?
We recently won the Eurimage Lab Award with a film by Andrea Caccia, an experimental work that follows the Ticino river’s course, telling the stories of 5 characters that never meet.
What is your opinion of the new law on cinema?
Italy is a country with a great ability to adapt. The law’s intentions seem very good, but we must see how they play out. There is something to be said about so called “difficult” films such as those by Marcello, Savona, Minervini or Carpignano, that are gaining success at the international film festivals. I believe that a greater support must be given to the more “fragile” works, the ones that need the public’s support the most.
What does it mean for you to be a Producer on the move at Cannes?
More networking, new encounters and a visibility I didn’t have before. It is also an acknowledgement of what I have been doing independently for years.