Summit nabs ‘Laughed’

Int'l rights sold for Venice Fest's Golden Lion winner

Summit Entertainment has acquired worldwide rights outside Italy to Gianni Amelio’s “The Way We Laughed,” the controversial winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Intl. Film Festival this year.

Period drama “Laughed” examines Italy’s loss of innocence through the eyes of two Sicilian brothers who emigrate to Turin in 1958.

Italian minimajor Cecchi Gori Group, which financed and produced the pic, will release it in Italy in early 1999.

Rita Cecchi Gori and Vittorio Cecchi Gori produced “Laughed,” which stars Enrico Lo Verso, Francesca Giuffrida, Fabrizio Gifuni and Rosaria Danze.

Amelio, Vincenzo Cerami, Alberto Taraglio and Laura Taviani wrote the script.

Summit, a leading foreign sales and financing company, said that it would begin selling the film at November’s Mifed film market in Milan. Pic also screened at this month’s Toronto Film Festival.

Amelio’s last two, award-laden pics, 1994’s “Lamerica” and 1992’s “The Stolen Children,” both received theatrical distribution in the U.S.

In addition to its Summit deal, Cecchi Gori may have been hoping to secure U.S. theatrical distribution for “Laughed” in Venice. But despite the throng of U.S. acquisitions execs attending screenings, a deal failed to materialize.

Summit president Patrick Wachsberger and partner David Garrett flew into Venice specifically to see the film, and subsequently closed their deal in Toronto.

“Amelio is one of Italy’s most talented directors, and this is his most emotionally powerful and accessible film to date,” Wachsberger said. “I believe that it has the potential to break out to mainstream audiences outside of Italy.”

However, U.S. minimajor Artisan Entertainment holds a minority stake in Summit. And Artisan is open to distributing foreign language films — such as the forthcoming Spanish thriller “Open Your Eyes,” from director Alejandro Amenabar.

Wachsberger negotiated the deal for “Laughed” on behalf for Summit, and exec Gianni Nunnari repped Cecchi Gori.

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