Feltrinelli Editore, which is behind Roberto Saviano’s bestselling novel “ZeroZeroZero,” which was adapted into a TV series for Sky Atlantic, Canal Plus and Amazon Prime, is one of 18 prestigious publishers from across Europe attending Venice Film Festival’s Book Adaptation Rights Market (BARM).
The first two episodes of the “ZeroZeroZero” series, which offers a gritty account of the global cocaine trade and stars Andrea Riseborough, Dane DeHaan and Gabriel Byrne, had their world premiere at last year’s Venice edition before rolling out on networks worldwide.
While other components of Venice Production Bridge, the festival’s film market, like Final Cut and the Gap-Financing Market, have been moved entirely online in response to the challenges brought on by the pandemic, organizers decided that the book to film event, which is in its fifth year, would go ahead physically.
“It’s important to show we can organize things in person and on site, we are here to help the industry resume its activity and to think about the future, how we can work within such a world.
“We are in a transition period, cinema has always had to adapt to different periods in time – technology, war etc. – we are used to doing it,” says Venice market chief Pascal Diot.
The one-to-one meetings with producers are a unique networking opportunity for publishers to present titles particularly suited for film and TV adaptations and to nurture business relations, says Feltrinelli’s rights director Theo Collier. “I believe in the value of meeting face to face,” he says. “Venice is an important place to catch up with people with whom you already have business in progress. For example, we started discussing Paolo Mancosu’s book “Inside the Zhivago Storm” (2013) in Venice two years ago, along with (transsexual activist) Fumettibrutti’s series of autobiographical graphic novels, all of which have been subsequently put under option within the last 12 months.”
Annachiara Tassan is a publisher at DeA Planeta Libri, a BARM veteran, which has been attending the event since the first edition back in 2016. “It’s an opportunity you can’t miss to meet a large number of publishers in a short span of time, even though the numbers this year will be limited because of the pandemic,” she says. “It’s a chance for us to find out what they are looking for in terms of TV series and cinema. It allows me to select the titles from my catalog that could be a good match. This month, for instance, we are publishing the wonderful story of a 90-year-old Instagram star entitled ‘There’s No Time to Be Sad’ by Licia Fertz and Emanuele Usai. We own the movie rights for many of our titles and, if not, we promote them on behalf of the agencies that do.”
BARM takes on extra meaning in the wake of the lockdown, which has severely impacted the publishing industry worldwide.
“Everything was put on hold, so the only thing publishers really want to do is resume their conversation with producers and be able to present the new books they are going to publish in the fall and the winter,” Diot says.
Publishers are hoping events like these will help recoup lost sales.
“We saw a sharp downturn in sales during the lockdown period. It was virtually impossible to publish and we had to postpone launch dates. But since it ended we have seen encouraging numbers,” says Collier, who adds that the upswing in the amount of business coming from book to film deals in the last 12 months has led to the creation of a dedicated business unit for audiovisual work within the Feltrinelli group.
New titles Collier and his team are bringing to Venice this year include “I’ll Have to Dance” (“Mi toccherà ballare”) (2014) by Ottavia Casagrande and Raimonda Lanza di Trabia, a colorful account of the life of di Trabia’s grandfather, a Gatsby-style Sicilian nobleman, and some graphic novels by artists Roberto Recchioni and Wallie, which it’s hoped will seduce producers.