Two-rooms and a kitchen better than a window on the Bosphorus??

Two-rooms and a kitchen is a local flavoured expression to describe Italian contemporary cinema (in my roman familiar dialect it will sound like “du’ camere e cucina”).

Why two-rooms and a kitchen movies have replaced Italian neorealism? Or, better said: why two-rooms and a kitchen movies have become the new Italian realism? As Italians, we have to ask ourselves why indoor claustrophobic familiar stories have become our daily life concern, instead of looking outside and going outdoor, as neorealism directors did teach us a while ago.

These days Italian media are unanimously applauding Italian movies at Venice film festival. Everybody seems to agree with the alleged fact that there is a re-birth of Italian cinema (a re-birth coming from a two-rooms and a kitchen delivery).

I am not a cinema expert but an eager “eater” of each kind of images. And these days I would have a question for Ferzan Ozpetek, a Turkish director who has been living in Italy for many years (and who’s now presenting in Venice his new movie Un giorno perfetto).

Turkey these days is a vibrant country in a great mood. And this great energy reflects on its audiovisual industry too.

As an Arab media watcher, I was charmed by the raising of the Turkish soap operas phenomena. Doubled in Syrian dialect, Turkish soap operas like Nour or Lost years are gaining an incredible audience success all across the Arab world. There are many reasons for this incredible boom –and many of them concerns some internal characteristics to Arab markets and Muslim societies- but I just would like to point out one thing which should be important for other countries, Italy too.

Though being tv works (which means serials), aimed at gaining audiences and ads time (which means commercially oriented), these soap operas have something more. They tell about a society which is in evolution, which is trying to bridge globalisation and local culture, progress and tradition, religious belief and liberalization, just as the charming Bosphorus river is bridging East and West in beautiful Istanbul. They are shoot in poor neighbours and luxury 5 stars hotels, in popular traditional coffee houses and brand new malls. They show the poorest working class and the richest one. They talk about illegal immigration and struggles against local and foreign mafia as well as foreign investments in the booming real estate industry in Istanbul. Their protagonists work in a cafeteria to pay their university studies or in the family fashion company just to have fun, drink champagne and go to trendy parties while they are making money indeed.

Why a clever Turkish director like Ferzan Ozpetek should do two-rooms and a kitchen movies instead of doing soap operas like these? I really don’t know. Maybe cause we still consider cinema as a work of art while tv is just a “bread-gaining” work? Maybe. But I don’t think so, especially when tv is well done.

And why our fellow Italian journalists (and all the media industry in Italy) are applauding the alleged re-birth of Italian movies inside this claustrophobic and self-referential space instead of going outside to see what’s happening in this big globalized world?

Maybe it’s because there are still stuck in two-rooms and a kitchen. And have lost the key to get out of it.

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UAE influence in global film industry increases

1 billion dollars is the huge amount of money reported to be spent over the next 5 years in film production by Imagenation Abu Dhabi the just born jewel in the Abu Dhabi goldmine.

The fund will be devoted not only to develop and finance Arab (and Gulf) feature films, but also international movies. Abu Dhabi has already signed an agreement with Warner Bros (500 millions dollars) for a production fund which is going to release soon its first product, Robert Rodriguez’s Shorts. Together with film production, Abu Dhabi and WB also have a big thematic park project to be built in the UAE and a videogame fund of other 500 millions dollars.

This is not enough for the eager-to-invest emirate, which is aiming to launch itself as international movie hub, the “place to be” in terms of film industry. The upcoming Middle East Film Festival (oct. 10-19) will award the lucky winners with more than 1 million dollars in cash.

Dubai, which was the first in the Gulf to start betting on the movie industry having launched the first movie festival in the Gulf area and the huge Dubai Studios project, will not sit down and wait for its rival emirate to leave it behind. The fifth edition of the Dubai Film Festival (dec. 11-18) will launch the first Middle East Film Market, which is aimed –according to its organisers- to compete directly with Cannes and US markets. If it seems an ambitious project, Dubai is used to fulfil its most ambitious dreams with the help of its pockets.

At the moment Gulf capital are not heavily investing only at home, but all across the world. In Italy we have good example in many different sectors: from the business with stylish furniture designer Poltrona Frau to develop the brand in the UAE with Mubadala company, to real estate (all Gulf princes are heavily buying hotels, properties all across Italy) to the 2 billion euros investment in Palermo harbour by the Sultan of Oman. Even Italian government controlled electric company Enel has to pay the rent of its offices (around 30 millions euros in 2007) to the Saudi Al Rajhi Group.