With Pitch Sessions and XR Initiatives, Torino Short Film Market Is Looking to Leave a Mark

When the Torino Short Film Market kicked off its inaugural edition in November 2016, the young event already set a clear intention: To catapult new talents into the wider film industry.

“The short film world is kind of detached from the feature and docs markets,” TSFM artistic director Enrico Vannucci tells Variety. “Our job is to find these new talents that critics or audiences will later discover. The short film world is kind of apart, so we’re trying to bring these talents closer [into the fold,] because 99% of shorts filmmakers want to make features.”

To do so, the young event put into a place what would become one its flagship initiatives – a feature pitch session called Oltrecorto (or Beyond the Short). Since 2016, event coordinators have spotlighted five shorts per year that could serve as proof-of-concepts for eventual features, presenting the finished film followed by a five-minute feature pitch before potential co-production partners.

In recent years, such efforts have begun to bear fruit. The first feature project – “Monsters” from director Marius Olteanu – premiered out Berlinale Forum in 2019, while the second – Ameen Nayfeh’s “200 Meters” – took home top honors at the Venice Days sidebar in 2020.

“Our goal is to offer a platform where people can meet, that they can use us as a tool,” says Vannucci. “With two successful features [Oltrecorto] is one of our most successful stories.”

As a part of Torino Film Industry, which runs parallel to the Torino Film Festival, the short film market hosted 450 accredited attendees this year, while boasting new support from the Italian Trade Agency in order to expand its international profile. This hybrid edition ran from Nov. 29 to Dec. 3 on site and will now move online until Dec. 10 – although the market’s content library will remain available to buyers for the next sixth months.

Offering panels, keynotes and networking events all designed to keep new and established players in constant contact, the TSFM is not, as the artistic director readily admits, “a classic market.” “There’s a real family feeling inside the community, so we think that letting people meet and mingle is way better than just sitting in a booth,” says Vannucci.

This year also marked the introduction of an XR content award sponsored by RAI Cinema. The prize includes a €3,000 ($3,394) bounty and an exclusive acquisition for the Italian territory, and is eligible to the 16 projects TSFM selected for its XR section.

“There’s a lot of excitement and big buzz around XR,” says project manager and curator Carla Vulpiani. “This is a medium that requires lots of money and a different set of expertise, so we want to [be proactive about taking things forward].”

Vulpiani believes that the XR world has matured beyond a point of protean technological innovation into a more fixed state, and that in turn requires asking a new set of questions.

“When it comes to financing, does XR deserve a space for itself or to be included in all the other lines of financing for a region or a country? Should XR projects qualify for the same development grants open to what Italy calls ‘flat cinema’ or should they have separate lines of funding? That’s the big question going around Europe right now, and that’s what we’re looking to address.”

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