Principal photography began Monday in Rome

ROME — Italian helmer Gabriele Salvatores has started lensing “Quo Vadis, Baby?,” a pulpy psychological film noir about a private detective investigating her sister’s suicide.

Principal photography on the E3 million ($3.8 million) pic began Monday in Rome from a screenplay by Salvatores and longtime collaborator Fabio Scamoni.

Pic stars Italo pop singer Angela Baraldi and Andrea Renzi (“One Man Up”).

Produced by Maurizio Totti’s Colorado Film, the pic will be distributed by Medusa in Italy, with plans for a 2005 release.

“Quo Vadis, Baby?” is based on a novel by Grazia Verasani, published by Totti’s recently launched Colorado Noir book unit.

French rights for the book were acquired by Paris-based Editions Metaille.

“Quo Vadis, Baby?” follows Salvatores’ kidnap drama “I’m Not Scared,” a Miramax pickup for the U.S.

Next up for Salvatores will be long-in-the-works, big-budget drama “Rules of Love,” helmer’s first English-language pic, skedded to start rolling in September in Canada.

Project is based on Meir Shalev’s novel “The Loves of Judith,” about three men vying for the love of one highly perplexing woman.

Totti is seeking U.S. talent for “Rules of Love,” which is a co-production with Gabriella Martinelli’s Toronto-based Capri Films.

Salvatores has added another English-language project to his slate, a 19th-century-set serial-killer tale, based on book “La scala di dionisio,” by Luca Di Fulvio, for which Totti recently acquired rights.

Salvatores won the 1991 Academy Award for foreign-language film for “Mediterraneo.” “I’m Not Scared” was Italy’s candidate for Oscar consideration in 2003.

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