Marco Orsini is the founding Board Member of the International Emerging Talent Film Association of Monaco. He is the writer, director, and producer of seven acclaimed documentaries. Starting his career in television in the ’90s, Marco produced 60+ hours of primetime programming for US & South American markets before turning his talents to writing and directing. His award-winning films and scripts have been translated into French, Japanese, Arabic, Italian, Mandarin, and Spanish, screened at major festivals, and played on TV/VOD while earning plaudits from industry journals, including the Hollywood Reporter, The Guardian, and Variety.
He is currently touring the festival circuit with his latest feature documentary film Latin 4+, a story of Vietnam you haven’t heard before.
The International Emerging Film Talent Association (IEFTA) is a Monaco-based not-for-profit organization dedicated to identifying and supporting emerging filmmakers from developing regions around the world. IEFTA connects filmmakers to established industry professionals, engages in cultural diversity, and fosters relationships that are; mentoring, inspiring, and educational. With strategic partners, international talent labs, and film festivals, IEFTA supports the growth and promotion of the future generation of storytellers.
What actually guided you to form this organization, IEFTA?
In 2006, I was filming a documentary in Ethiopia, traveling extensively through the country for almost a month. In doing so, I met a lot of young, well-educated people who had a burning desire to tell their own stories. But they had no training, no access to training, and no access to share their stories with the local or international community. I saw a need and an opportunity.
The original focus of IEFTA was a film festival in Monaco in 2007 titled IETFF (The International Emerging Talent Film Festival), even though the organization was born in 2006. We had 22 first-time filmmakers from 20 countries, which was a huge success. Several were picked up for distribution and some represented their countries that year for the Oscar run. I remember one film in particular that left a real impact on me titled Satanas (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0473697/reference). It was the director's first film and Columbia’s contender for the Oscars that year.
After being elected President, I announced the beginning of the Global Film Festival (GFE) and I basically killed the film festival that year. I was the last of the 4 original founding board members to join. I am the last of the 4 original board members to still be on the board. It was not my idea and I did not want to join, but I did in the end and changed its direction completely. It also changed my life dramatically. It’s a full-time job now with no pay, but I love it and I love the thrill of hearing filmmakers pitch their projects. It’s exciting to find emerging talent and introduce them to hungry audiences around the world.
As we all know, there are several hundred festivals worldwide. But how many organizations are supporting emerging filmmakers from emerging markets as well as supporting organizations in those markets? Our mandate is to “Engage in the Art of Cinema”. That is a pretty flexible mandate which gives us the ability to be flexible as the markets and needs change.
When & why did IEFTA decide to go for a partnership with Dhaka DocLab?
It started in 2014 with Samia Zaman. As we had already been in Ethiopia for almost half a decade, we had brought 5 Ethiopian filmmakers to Cannes (4 women, one pregnant) to pitch their projects that year. IEFTA used to hold an event in Monaco for industry professionals in Cannes. We would bus people down from Cannes and back. I ran into Samia Zaman at an event in Cannes during the festival and invited her to come. She came. Towards the end of the event, she asked me why we weren’t in Bangladesh and invited me to check it out for myself.
It was the next year that I came to Dhaka and participated in discussions, film festivals, and university circle groups and met with some industry and government officials one-on-one. It was a survey. It has been a cyclone ever since. IFIB was born with Samia as well as her coming on board with IEFTA as a consultant for the South Asian region. In that period, Dhaka Doc Lab was born and we all agreed it was the perfect launching tool for IEFTA to partner with the organization to continue to “engage in the art of cinema.” We have since seen DDL grow into an internationally recognized and important hub for South Asian Doc filmmakers. IEFTA is proud to be one of the first collaborators for Dhaka Doc Lab.
What according to you are the strong points of South Asian filmmakers?
Like everywhere, the story is key. If you have no story, you have no film. South Asia has a history rich in culture that is as diverse as it is long. I think that is what makes South Asian filmmakers different the same way filmmakers from the African continent or South Americans are different from Western films from the US and European markets. Yes, Western films are great. But, the world needs new angles, new heroes, new ideas, and new storytelling. Also, the Diaspora communities worldwide are tired of seeing the same stereotypes for their region. I know I am tired of seeing it. I am ready for new stories from around the world and I’m pretty sure everyone else is too.
Which areas do you think South Asian filmmakers need to develop? That is a broad question and difficult to answer. I can’t say audio or acting or writing because it depends on the project. I think what really needs to develop is the role of a Producer. We can’t have a filmmaker produce, write, direct, edit and sometime star in their own films. There are no creative checks along the way. Ideally, a market with strong producers creates a strong and healthy film industry.
How they may be able to overcome these? I think by engaging local producers and guiding them to co-production markets abroad. I have seen films from Bangladesh and the region explode recently based on international co-production deals. It is hard to make a film. I really do believe it’s difficult to stay in the film world without having beg, borrow, steal (joking of course) along the way. Wouldn’t It be great if a Producer from another market or country was also supporting that endeavor by doing the same thing for the film?