Canal Plus, Telepiu to invest in Italo films

Pact enhances 1998 prior agreement

ROME — In an agreement signed Thursday in Rome by Canal Plus president Pierre Lescure, Telepiu prexy Michel Thoulouze and Italy’s minister for culture Giovanna Melandri, the French pay TV group and its Italian subsid pledged to increase investment in Italian film production to at least $45 million for the 2000-01 period.

Pact represents the renewal and enhancement of a previous agreement, signed in January 1998 by Italy’s deputy prime minister at the time, Walter Veltroni.

Telepiu reports, however, that investment during that period exceeded initial estimates, reaching $35 million. That sum included pre-acquisition of 67 Italian features; pre-buys of 13 features produced with the aid of the government’s Article 8 fund for new filmmakers (in which the Telepiu stake accounted for not less than 10% of the total budget); production of 100 shorts made by students of Bologna’s DAMS film school; and production, co-production and pre-acquisition of 20 Italian documentaries.

Film, TV synergy

“This agreement represents a strategic choice regarding the involvement of the television sector in the future of Italian cinema,” commented Melandri. “The pairing of film and television has for a long time been viewed as a relationship of conflict. But it’s one in which each medium must contribute to and support the other.”

Melandri commended Canal Plus and Telepiu in particular on their efforts to foster new filmmaking talent through the production of short films and on the companies’ contribution to the re-awakening of Italy’s previously moribund documentary sector.

Thoulouze noted that the primetime programming of documentaries has been a success with subscribers and that the network intends to continue the strategy. Telepiu’s docu lineup is divided into three categories: Doc Natura, on the animal world, ecology and the environment; Doc Cinema, on film history, directors and actors; and Doc Reportage, on history and current events.

Bolstering tyro helmers

In addition to investment in co-production and acquisitions, the renewed agreement stipulates that through pre-acquisitions, Telepiu will supply the remaining 10% required to complete the budget of at least half of the films by first- and second-time directors that receive government funding.

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