Cat's in the bag for Italo helmer

ROME — Roberto Benigni is back in the director’s chair with “La tigre e la neve” (The Tiger and the Snow), a comedy about a love-struck Italo poet in Iraq at the outset of last year’s American-led invasion.

He will star with his wife, Nicoletta Braschi, and Gallic thesp Jean Reno.

“The Tiger” is Benigni’s return to a “Life Is Beautiful”-like tale — comprising comedy and historical tragedy — following his lavish 2002 adaptation of “Pinocchio,” which flopped outside Italy.

Shooting will start this week in Rome and will move to Tunisia before ending up in Papigno Studios near Terni in Umbria, where Benigni shot “Life Is Beautiful” and “Pinocchio.”

Pic is produced by Benigni’s Melampo shingle in collaboration with longtime production partner Elda Ferri.

Script is penned by Benigni with regular co-writer Vincenzo Cerami; composer Nicola Piovani — who won one of the three Oscars scooped in 1999 by “Life Is Beautiful” — will contribute the musical score.

“The Tiger” has no Italian or international distributor.

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