The German-Italian co-production Maltese was screened at MIPTV following a panel discussion, moderated by World Screen’s Anna Carugati, featuring executives from ZDF Enterprises, Palomar, Rai Fiction and Maze Pictures, as well as one of the stars of the show, Rike Schmid.
The 8×50-minute/4×90-minute action-crime drama is a co-production of Palomar, Maze Pictures, Dramedy Productions and ZDF Enterprises for Rai Fiction. Set in the 1970s, it focuses on a police commissioner who, while investigating the murder of his best friend, a police officer, in Sicily, uncovers links between the Mafia and the worlds of politics and finance.
The idea originated at Palomar about two years ago, said the company’s CEO, Nicola Serra, one of the producers of Maltese. Rai then came on board, followed by Maze, Dramedy and then ZDF Enterprises, which is selling the show to the international market.
“We were immediately impressed by the story, by the script, by the cast, by the whole creative paradigm,” said Alexander Coridass, the president and CEO of ZDF Enterprises. “It’s a dream to have a professional cooperation where you really like and have a high respect for your producers. It’s an outstanding product.”
Luca Milano, executive deputy director at Rai Fiction, noted that Maltese is a good example of the constantly increasing production values of Italian drama. The show is not your typical Mafia story, Milano said, noting the depth of the characters and the modern approach to direction and music.
Rike Schmid portrays Elisa Ripstein, a photojournalist, in the show. The character is inspired by the Sicilian photographer Letizia Battaglia, who is best known for her work documenting the victims of the Mafia in Italy in the ’70s and ’80s. “Her work was very important at that time because people were denying the Mafia existed. For me, it was an honor to impersonate her.” Schmid herself is German and had to quickly learn Italian for the role.
For Philipp Kreuzer, CEO of Maze Pictures, the series stands out for its script and the “creative package,” including Schmid and Kim Rossi Stuart, who portrays Commissioner Maltese. “The looks of the series are stunning. It’s also an area that hasn’t been on screen very much. It’s exciting and very moving, so it’s engaging on the plot and the emotion.”
The director of the series is Gianluca Maria Tavarelli, who also worked on Montalbano, from a script by Leonardo Fasoli and Maddalena Ravagli, who both wrote Gomorrah.