I got to meet Sino Accursio Caracappa, Sicilian from Sciacca, at a dinner in Rome and immediately felt curious about his brave activity as a cinema owner, which earned him the Lizzani 2016 award established by ANAC as “Italy’s most courageous distributor” at the last Venice Festival.
I was looking forward to hearing his story, which began back in 1982 when he organized matinee shows for schools and continued when he started managing an arena that lay the foundations to a business he’s been running enthusiastically since.
What does it take to be such a brave distributor in Italy?
It takes a lot! This is a disappearing business here in italy, it’s being swallowed up by the big chains which take over theaters and show-times, monopolizing the genres and contents. My case is a bit different since I live in a place where there are virtually no theaters in a 25 mile radius (Sciacca, Agrigento province), population 40 k! It’s hard work, but we actually get to have diversity in our show-times. A small place where we manage to offer strong content movies, niche films, experimental cinema and other activities which have put me in the spotlight and granted me an award at the last Venice Festival. Big theaters are compelled to show blockbusters and otherwise popular movies, not always favoring quality and high content pictures.
What are the biggest challenges in your area as a distributor?
For one, managing to get people involved. Understanding cinema language. We live in a world where images come first and getting people to come to the cinema has become hard. People often get TV fictions mixed up with cinema. Filling theaters with contents which promote socializing is hard work.
Do you ever come in touch with other scenarios, including foreign ones?
Part of my work is coming in touch and relating with others, which I do also thanks to the two important festivals I run. I’ve had people in the jury coming from Berlin, Paris, Africa; I have a whole section dedicated to Arabian cinema in my festival (Sciacca Film Festival). I deal with worldwide cinema organizations on a daily basis.
What are the differences you notice?
Abroad, in Arabian countries for instance, cinema gets a lot of support from the state. It’s recognized as an important tool of communication. Unfortunately there are many places where this industry doesn’t get much recognition, besides India, though that’s where the youth are able to experiment with new forms of creativity. Technically speaking they have improved a lot thanks to the aids from other countries, in Syria, for example, where Canada invested to promote the industry, or France that trains many young people to become the next generation in the French cinema industry. There has been an increase in the attention to authors, and film commissions have become real training fields.
Are things likely to change in Italy too?
Yes, because other than the traditional national distribution, there is a growing enthusiasm among young authors and producers who are able, thanks to the flourishing of small independent distributions, to get their films in theaters. It’s an underground sort of cinema, still underestimated in the market, but that’s the real future of Italian cinema. For films to be played in movie theaters it’s crucial that authors put themselves out there and attend the show, making it an actual event. Showing up means involving the audience in the whole process of the story. A network of movie theaters is essential too.
Have you ever been to New York?
I haven’t, though I love New York City and even have the New York Times newsletter on my phone! (laughing)
What’s your idea of NYC and its culture?
I feel it’s kind of like a meat grinder, in a good way though. A place of opportunities, art and patronage. A place where art has prominent relevance and artists coming from all over the world are given the chance to express themselves.
I will tell you a story about the New York bull, that a friend of mine made a documentary about a few years back. As you probably know the bull was made by Sicilian artist Arturo Di Modica, who with stubborn determination managed to place it in Wall Street during an unauthorized night raid. The next morning the bull was so appreciated and received such media relevance that, upon being removed by the police with charges to the artist, the public opinion demanded that it be placed right back where it has now become one of New York’s most renown symbols. That goes to prove how New York is the place where talent and ingenuity prevail!
You never thought of living there for some time?
My relationship with New York is complicated. The first short movie I made years ago, “Maradona Baby”, won a festival in NYC and was supposed to be awarded by Spike Lee. One day I got a phone call from New York and was invited to the festival, but I thought it was a prank and called the police. It wasn’t a prank after all, and when I realized that my passport was expired and I missed the award!
What would you suggest to a young director who is about to make his first film?
The most important advice I give to young filmmakers is to take care of the marketing of their films, aside from the artistic aspect, in order to calculate a budget for the promotion and distribution as key factors to complete each project. Cinema is made by a chain of people, each with their own essential skills.
The movie is not done when the post production it’s completed but when it reaches the movie theaters, to let the audience enjoy it.
What is your biggest dream today?
I’m dreaming to see the Italian movie theaters filled throughout the Country again and see the people come out from a movie happy and excited.
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