By Dom Serafini

The coincidence was humorous. In order to reach Rome, Italy to attend the market MIA, which translates as “mine,” this reporter took a bus from TUA, which translates as “yours.” MIA is the acronym for Mercato Internazionale Audiovisivo (International Audiovisual Market), and TUA stands for Trasporto Unico Abruzzese (Abruzzo Unique Transport), which connects Rome to Italy’s east coast.

But that was the end of the funny business, since the business at hand at MIA was very serious, indeed. The event’s second day, October 12, took place at two interconnected venues — Palazzo Barberini and Cinema Barberini, both located near Via Veneto of La Dolce Vita fame.

The two sites were bustling with activities, with a total of 2,250 participants, a 12 percent increase from 2021. The conference part at the Cinema Barberini, was divided into four sections: Animation, Documentary, Factual, and Drama. Each section included forums about co-productions, pitching, and screenings. The market portion at Palazzo Barberini had 54 stands, while various Italian Film Commissions exhibited in their own tents.

This is the eighth edition of the market, which is now under the new direction of Gaia Tridente, a cinema expert who’s worked for such film trades as Roma Fiction Fest, Rossellini Foundation, Taormina Film Fest, and Europa Cinema.

The five-day MIA market and conference event will end on Saturday, October 15, just in time for the participants to travel to Cannes for MIPCOM — a smart move by the organizers: ANICA (Associazione Nazionale Industrie Cinematografiche Audiovisive, or National Association of Cinema Industries), and APA (Associazione Produttori Audiovisivi, or Association of Audiovisual Producers) since they are taking advantage of the Cannes-bound professionals, such as Incendo’s Gavin Reardon, Marenzi & Associates’ Gary Marenzi, and Susan Zirinsky, president of See It Now Studios (producer for Paramount).

MIA is the latest in a string of audiovisual events that haven taken place in Rome since the demise of the MIFED market (which last took place in Milan in 2004). The Romans never could tolerate that a film-TV market could be held in Milan rather than Rome, which is considered the Mecca of the Italian film industry.

The string of trade events in Rome began with the Festa del Cinema di Roma (Roman Cinema Fest) in 2005. After the birth of the Cinema Fest in 2006, the organizer, Fondazione Cinema per Roma, added a market element to it, called The Business Street.

At one point, The Business Street no longer worked, so in 2015, other Italian industry associations (in this case, ANICA and APT, now APA) decided to create MIA, a market independent from the Cinema Fest. Thus, even if they are held on the same dates, the two events can autonomously run parallel to each other.

Another trade event, Roma Fiction Fest, was organized by the Rossellini Foundation since its inception in 2007 up until 2010, when the Foundation was closed. Since 2011, it had been managed by APT (now APA), up until its last edition in 2016. The business section of the Rome Fiction Fest was introduced in 2009, and has continued under the APT administration.

Finally, MIA seems to have now caught the international audiovisual industry’s interest. But before becoming successful with the industry, MIA was a hit with three Italian ministries, as well as one state agency, which provided ample financial support. It’s like the Italian government wants to assure that MIA remains relevant to the international film/TV scene, and so far the response from some of the industry’s highest-level players has been overwhelmingly positive. Participants have included Sandra Stern (Lionsgate), Marco Bassetti (Banijay), Oliver Jones (Apple TV+), Ted Miller (CAA), Larry Tanz (Netflix), and many more.

The success must have caught the organizers by surprise, since the massive structure that is Palazzo Barberini ran out of seating tables for both its indoor and outdoor locations.

Pictured above, top l. to r.: Gary Marenzi and Giovanni Pedde, both from Marenzi & Associates, with Marco Spagnoli, deputy director of MIA; Paolo Di Maia, editor of Cinema&Video, with Luca Ferrario of Trentino Film Commission; Sardinia Film Commission celebrating its 10th anniversary; One of MIA’s market sites; Tables were at a premium; VideoAge‘s Dom Serafini pays tribute.

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