Interview: Lucca Comics & Games Director Emanuele Vietina

The Lucca Comics & Games festival kicks off today in Lucca, Italy, running for five days as they bring major names to Tuscany. This will be the event's second year back in-person since the pandemic, as they have returned to having a full event within the city walls. Turing the streets, shops, churches, and more into a giant festival that takes over the city for everyone to enjoy. Prior to the event kicking off this morning, we chatted with the festival director Emanuele Vietina about what they have planned this year.

Photo provided by Lucca Games & Comics, photo by Marco Montanari
Photo provided by Lucca Games & Comics, photo by Marco Montanari

BC: How's it feel to have the festival back physically for a second year in a row now after the pandemic?

EV: Basically, we never stop, but of course, it's important to come back in full force. I am the director of the festival, but also the CEO of your company. Okay, so in these two years, we decided to never stop, to invest in research, innovation, and in understanding why that's what was going to happen. So what are the expectation and how we feel? Of course, we are very much under pressure. As I told you, the show is going to be largely in terms of sheer presence in a space that is familair. We are going to put in this new formula a lot of innovation that we developed along these two years, for example, as a support that you are a passionate gamer, during these two years so we developed a type of game show. For example, we developed a project that we are going to call Italy Can Fire. So Lucca is going to be an ivory show, it is going to be all over the spread of all the of the markets and shops dedicated to comics and games, and it's going to be the largest possible show. It's going to be larger in terms of content. We talked about, of course, Tim Burton, and we'll have Willow, one of my favorite fantasy movies back in the eighties. But of course, we are going to create some new kind of show because we want to face the new normality within comics and games.

You mentioned a number of different things that you have done to change a bit of the experience. What are some of the things you've done to make this a much more unique experience compared to other conventions around the world?

Lucca has its own peculiar way. Sometimes I do lectures for the summer school in Italy, and to people from the U.S. and from the world […], in front of a church from the middle age combining the modern mythologies with the monumental heritage of Italy, of Tuscany, of Europe; you can do that only in Lucca. So that idea is to combine our movement and heritage together with the creative industries. The creative industries bring something new in terms of meaning to our monuments, and our monuments can enhance and can be a multiplier for modern technologies or the IP. For example, when we pictured Dungeons & Dragons in 2019, when Joe Manganiello came, our pitch was, "you have dungeon and dragon in Seattle; we have a true dungeon!" So the largest European tournament of Dungeons & Dragons has been held in a true dungeon within our city walls. And this is unique you can only do it in Lucca. And this year, we are happy because the directors, Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, together with the producer Jeremy Mitcham, are going to be in Lucca to present the Dungeons & Dragons movie. So it's sort of a long relationship with content and unique activations. And that is the reason why The Witcher became so connected with Lucca Comics & Games, and [CD Projekt Red] is going to create a unique community event in a villa from the 18th century, bringing Cyberpunk 2077 together with The Witcher community event, and the larger concept. Because we want to be the most community-driven show in the world. Lucca is going to be a great stage where these names or Netflix or Amazon can play abroad, but also the people can be the protagonists of our show. I used to say, "people want to be this show; they don't want to see a show anymore." And so look at this, it's a combination of space for the companies and free space for the people that can come to and perform shoulder-by-shoulder witht their favorite [attractions]. […] One of my childhood heroes from Final Fantasy Saga. Yoshitaka Amano, one of the greatest fantasy artists from Japan, is going to Lucca to celebrate.

For you personally, what are your thoughts going into the show and what you've been able to set up and accomplish?

Basically, I have two perspectives. I started as a volunteer at the beginning of the '90s. I was a volunteer of the gate side. And before, I usually attended the show with my mother when I was eight years old. So first, my aim is to create the show that I would like to attend. For me, the show is a mirror of the community. And of course, as a director right now, I am a little bit less engaged and more busy with the relationship with the publishing houses or streamer or movie distributor. So probably my first aim is to share a vision and to build a vision with my team. That, by the way, is pretty young because we like to renew the team and to share with them that they are a value to the company. So community respect, discovery and gratitude for the author and the art. So probably to preserve and to renew the vision. And of course, in the last year, I am also responsible and accountable for the global design of the show, designed to invite people to action, but also to take care of the city. So it makes sense I have to manage people who share the vision to be there, renew their vision, and to assure the people that we are going with the show that we would like to attend. Because we belong to the community. And so what they want to be sure is that the people working for me are still part of the community, important to stay in touch and to have a real relationship with these beautiful modern mythologies in the streets.

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Gavin SheehanAbout Gavin Sheehan

Gavin is the current Games Editor for Bleeding Cool. He has been a lifelong geek who can chat with you about comics, television, video games, and even pro wrestling. He can also teach you how to play Star Trek chess, be your Mercy on Overwatch, recommend random cool music, and goes rogue in D&D. He also enjoys hundreds of other geeky things that can't be covered in a single paragraph. Follow @TheGavinSheehan on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vero, for random pictures and musings.
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