Cartoomics – Interview with Filippo Mazzarella

Filippo Mazzarella is an Italian film and entertainment critic, with a vast expertise in the world of games. He collaborates with the prestigious Mereghetti Film Dictionary, besides being a consultant for the Asti Film Festival, and writing for FilmTV, Corriere della Sera – ViviMilano, Ciak and SegnoCinema.

For seven years Mr. Mazzarella has been appointed as the Artistic Director of Italy’s grandest event about comics, films and games: Cartoomics. The 2018 edition took place from March 9th through to the 11th at Fiera Milano Rho.

In this Exclusive Interview Filippo Mazzarella shares the outcome of Cartoomics’ 25th edition:

What were your goals, seven years ago, when you were assigned the role of Artistic Director of Cartoomics, and how have they evolved from one edition to the next?

The popularity of the event had temporarily decreased, perhaps due to the inability of the old management to adequately relate to the current changes in pop culture. The aim was to broaden the scope, while keeping comics as a core business, but also opening up to cinema, video games and the different forms of entertainment. From one edition to the next, all these objectives have been taken into consideration, one by one, up to the current structure that provides separate areas for each theme: publishing, home video, gaming, collectibles, tattoo, reenactment, science fiction, fantasy, western, kids.


What are the achievements that make you the proudest for this 25th edition of Cartoomics (your seventh)?

When I began, Cartoomics was a convention for less than 30,000 vistitors. By the time we reached 2017, they had become 85,000. This year, if the growth data will confirm the growth of previous years, we should count more than 100,000 Cartoomics visitors. I am proud of every single event presented, even the smallest. But above all, I cherish the opening of Cartoomics University, an area dedicated to ‘lectures’ with distinguished guests in the field of comics, cinema, make-up, music and culture such as Maurizio Nichetti, Sergio Stivaletti, Vince Tempera, Silver, Giulio Giorello, Andrea Mutti, Altan, Marco Checchetto, Javier Garrón, Bruno Bozzetto and many others. The discussed topics relate to the great themes of Cartoomics. And I’m happy with a feature-in-feature: this year Cartoomics hosts Univision Days, directed by Marco Spagnoli. This represents the biggest Italian event dedicated to home video cinema that also sees the presence of prestigious guests of Italian cinema and of international fame, such as Alessandra Querzola, the Set Decorator of Blade Runner 2049.


What are the similarities and differences between Cartoomics and ComiCon?

These are two events that share similar themes, but that cannot be compared for the impact they have on the level of public perception. Today ComiCon is used by American majors as a springboard for large international productions. Italy cannot count on a film market that is able to compete with that of the United States, also due to the inability of our film industry to produce competitive products in the field. The number of comic book publishers present at ComiCon and operating in the US is exponentially higher than in our market. However, Cartoomics tries to represent all these aspects, and so far has succeeded in doing so.

Who were this year’s guests that made you the proudest?

All the directors, screenwriters, producers, critics, actors and technicians who participated in the Univision Days and our winners. These include the great Italian satirical cartoonist Altan — who received the Cartoomics Artists Award 2018, previously awarded to Milo Manara and Giorgio Cavazzano — and the internationally renowned cartoonist Bruno Bozzetto, who received the Cartoomics Directors Award 2018, awarded to Dario Argento last year. I’m also very proud of the presence as “ambassador of Cartoomics” and host of several panels of Italian actor Nicola Nocella, recently nominated for the David di Donatello (the Italian equivalent of the Oscar) as Best Actor in the lead role.


Tomb Raider was a great hit during this year’s edition of Cartoomics, how do you feel the event contributed to endorsing female empowerment, also in view of the recent women campaigns in Hollywood?

This is a tricky question. In Italy, the echo of a film like Wonder Woman, elected as a Neofeminist manifesto in the United States, has made less of an impact. I believe that the new Tomb Raider will definitely contribute to the cause of female empowerment, but I have a feeling that also in this case few people will connect it to this wave of newly discovered (hopefully) respect towards women.


In your opinion how has the character of Tomb Raider evolved from the original game, to the Angelina Jolie film version, up to the latest adaptation played by Alicia Vikander?

There have always been several versions of Lara Croft that were co-existing: the overactive and fatally unidimensional video game, the shadier version of the Top Cow and Dark Horse comics, the wilder one of the first movies with Angelina Jolie. Each one was always equipped with an outstanding physicality and impetuous personality. The incarnation of Vikander aims with success, on a more contemporary depiction of womanhood. It is a big step forward.


How has children’s participation to Cartoomics evolved through the years?

Children are the readers, the players, the moviegoers and – why not? – even the possible writers, designers and directors of tomorrow. Their presence has always been constant. After all, many families of fans are now made up of people who have experienced the explosion of pop culture of the last four decades, as teenagers and have transmitted their passion to their children. It is overwhelming to see forty-year-old cosplayers dressed as Luke Skywalker, accompanied by toddlers wearing Ewok costumes. We try our best to offer even the youngest of visitors opportunities for fun and involvement: with projections of every kind of cartoon, activities such as the Jedi academies and the cosplaying contest dedicated to the under-10, and the promotion of comic series for children. Furthermore, from 2019, a new official award of Cartoomics will select the best publications dedicated to the younger ones.

Any further anticipations for Cartoomics 2019?

2019 is a crucial year in the global imagination: the one in which Ridley Scott’s first Blade Runner is set. We are thinking of a broad celebration that could also involve android robotics demonstrations. We have already started negotiations to host some of the film’s stars, and soon we will begin to explore Mr. Scott’s availability. In addition,  Alan Ford — a very important character in the world of Italian comics — will turn fifty. Its creator, Max Bunker, a legendary screenwriter that all the conventions are trying in vain to have as a guest, has already confirmed his presence.