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Netflix recently announced a new Italian original titled “Zero” that will mark the first Italian series centered around the present-day lives of black Italian youths. “Zero” is based on several books by young writer and TV music show host Antonio Dikele Distefano, who was born in Italy from Angolan parents. The project was originated by Italian screenwriter and now showrunner Stefano Voltaggio, who pitched it to Netflix. It’s being produced by Italy’s Fabula Pictures, the shingle behind Netflix’s “Baby.” Variety spoke to Voltaggio about how he got this groundbreaking show off the ground. Excerpts.
“Zero” is groundbreaking for Italy in several respects. There’s the subject matter, of course, but also the fact that it originated from a writer pitching it directly to Netflix. How did you pull it all off?
Zero - Collaboration - Antonio - Dikele - Distefano
“Zero” was born out of a collaboration between myself and Antonio Dikele Distefano who wrote three novels. When I read them I found the world they portrayed really interesting, but the plots weren’t adaptable into movies or series, so I suggested that he work with me and other screenwriters to bring his world to the screen with different plot lines. I have a development company called Red Joint with four other partners, one of whom is director Paolo Vari (pictured with Voltaggio, who is on right). When we got to the point where we had a pitch ready…I brought it to Netflix and Netflix liked it.
What do you think the clincher was?
Strength - Zero - Generation - Immigrants - Italy
The particular strength of “Zero” is that it’s about the second generation of [African] immigrants to Italy. They are Italian kids, though not all of them are legally Italian. But they are culturally and socially Italian, in every which way. Their world hasn’t been depicted in Italy and there are analogous situations that haven’t been depicted around the world. This makes...
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