On the occasion of the launch of Fare Cinema 2021, we interview the writer and director of the Turin International Book Fair.
edited by Laura Pugno
In the year of the pandemic, on the occasion of ‘Fare Cinema‘, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Turin International Book Fair are launching the digital version of the ‘BookToScreen’ Programme, an event held at the fair’s International Book Forum and aimed at the market for audio-visual rights that enable the adaptation of publishing and literary content for cinema, TV and theatre. We discuss this with the writer Nicola Lagioia, winner of the Premio Strega 2015 and director of Turin International Book Fair since 2017.
For the 2021 edition of Fare Cinema, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Turin International Book Fair are launching a collaboration with the BookToScreen series documentaries, with the aim of improving the internationalization of Italian books, not least thanks to the new cross-medial and trans-medial dynamics. The adaptation of Italian novels for film or television is a growing trend. What has been done and what can still be done in this direction?
In our country, there has always been a very solid yet very free connection between film and literature. Just think (to go for a classic) of how Luschino Visconti reinterpreted Camillo Boito when he filmed Senso, or how (on the contemporary side) Bernardo Bertolucci reinterpreted Niccolò Ammaniti in Me and You. With the massive popularity of TV series, this relationship has become even more intense. TV series features narrative structures and dramatic arrangements which are even closer to the novel than traditional cinema, while obviously maintaining a very strong cinematographic focus. It is no coincidence that the most successful Italian TV series are based on novels. What more can be done? Experimentation. A good TV series does not necessarily adapt a novel, it also transforms it if necessary, while perhaps maintaining its spirit. Series based on Italian novels provide an excellent opportunity for artistic expression, but also double as vehicles of soft power abroad. We have to work on raising the bar higher and higher.
This year, due to the by-now familiar reasons of the medical emergency, the Turin Book Fair, which is a much-awaited event for the whole literary and publishing sector, will be held in October instead of on the traditional dates in May. What have we learned and what are we still learning from the extraordinary year we have experienced?
In terms of the publishing sector, this year has taught us that books (and everything that this word and these wonderful objects evoke) are much more resilient than we think. People continued to read during the pandemic; in fact, they read more than before. Books are a great vessel of complexity (and the pandemic is teaching us how vital it is to take a complex approach to solve problems) and they connect readers with crucial issues in an emotionally powerful way (and due to the pandemic, we have been forced to confront some crucial issues that we might have thought we could avoid in the past). Books will be a valuable compass for the 21st century.
Italian publishing has two important events on the horizon, in the short and medium term, Livre Paris and the Buchmesse in Frankfurt, where it will be the guest country of honour. What strategies, from the Fair’s perspective, would allow us to arrive at these events in the best possible shape?
Italy must set up a permanent, large fund to support the translation of Italian books abroad that is in keeping with our cultural and publishing history. I am not saying that there has not been a major effort on this front already, just that much more needs to be done. Excellent funds exist in many countries with a strong or major literary tradition. I hope these events (Paris and Frankfurt) will be an opportunity to fill the gap. This is very important for our country.