Despite persistent rumors that several production companies are on the verge of bankruptcy, the Italian film industry seems to be relatively stable. One indication: Eight Italian film producers have formed a new association, the Independent Film Producers Consortium, and unveiled a slate of 16 pix in or nearing production.

The aim is to provide a pool of production finance for new projects that the companies may have been unable to finance on their own. In practice, each member company will bring its projects to the consortium, which will decide which members will team up to produce them.

Film producers in Italy have certainly seen better years. Hit by a financing crunch after TV networks slashed their film production budgets, crushed at the box office by a string of U.S. blockbusters, demoralized by the deaths of Federico Fellini and Mario Cecchi Gori, the film biz here is going through a rough period that should see some of the smaller companies disappear and lead to a much-needed re-thinking of financing and distribution.

Member companies are Clesi Cinematografica (headed by Silvio Clementelli), Dean Film (Pio Angeletti and Adriano De Micheli), Mass Film (Franco Committeri), Cristaldi Pictures (Massimo Cristaldi), Italian Intl. Film (Fulvio Lucisano), Dania Film (Luciano Martino), Ama Film (Gianni Minervini), and Ellepi Film (Leo Pescarolo).

Some here believe the consortium might act to balance the financial weight of Penta in terms of enabling the indies to compete with the Cecchi Gori/Berlusconi-backed company in making offers to top directors, screenwriters and actors.

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