Italy dusts off coin

New scheme pays out $17.7 mil to 8 pix

ROME — Reopening its funding faucet after nearly two years, Italy’s Culture Ministry has disbursed e13.5 million ($17.7 million) in production subsidies to eight pics including John Boorman’s “Memoirs of Hadrian” and projects by Mario Monicelli, Roberto Faenza and Francesca Archibugi.

“Hadrian” biopic is based on the Maguerite Yourcenar bestseller about the peace-loving Roman emperor.

Backed by a pool of Italo producers including state film entity Istituto Luce, RAI Cinema and Massimo Pacilio’s Movieweb, the $35 million project got a $2 million boost.

The biggest beneficiaries of the public moolah are “I giorni dell’abbandono” (Days of Abandonment), a lost-love drama by Faenza (“The Soul Keeper”), co-produced by Elda Ferri’s Jean Vigo shingle and Medusa, and “Flying Lessons,” a coming-of-age pic by Archibugi (“Tomorrow”), co-produced by Cattleya and RAI Cinema. Both received $2.6 million.

A $2 million shot in the arm went to veteran comedy maestro Monicelli’s satirical Africa-set WWII pic “The Desert Roses,” co-produced by Mauro Berardi’s Luna Rossa and Mikado.

Fresh coin infusion came under a new funding regime enacted by the Silvio Berlusconi government.

Known as a “reference system,” the new rules force producers to come up with at least half of a project’s budget from private investors and look at directors’ track records (except in the case of first-timers) in determining if they are eligible for coin.

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