Cattleya eyes contempo pix

ROME — Italo indie stable Cattleya’s push for local auteurs to hatch commercially viable pics fit to play outside national confines is starting to pay off.

Five years after producer Riccardo Tozzi teamed with partners Marco Chimenz and Giovanni Stabilini to launch the company, named after a Proustian orchid, they’ve hit a sweet streak, landing a foreign Oscar nom for incest drama “Don’t Tell” and a slew of sales on gangster epic “Crime Novel,” which Warner Bros. will open wide next month in France.

“These are movies that can start opening up the international market to Italian cinema,” Cattleya topper Riccardo Tozzi says. “And what’s really great is they’re about real, present-day Italy. Not ethnic or exotic postcard pics.” “Il Postino” and “Cinema Paradiso” fit in that latter category. Even “Life Is Beautiful,” for all its boffo biz, hardly depicted Italy today.

Helmed by Cristina Comencini, “Don’t Tell,” is about psychological scars caused by paternal sexual abuse, but also manages to muster some humor. Pic is segueing from solid Italo box office following its Venice bow to a Lionsgate release Stateside slotted in March, shortly after the Oscar verdict. Michele Placido’s “Crime Novel,” based on a Rome magistrate’s book, unfolds over three decades of lowdown mob dealings in the Italian capital, often involving pols. “Crime” was sold to more than 20 territories, including Icon for the U.K., EMS for Germany, and Palace for Australia, after unspooling in the Berlin competish.

Cattleya’s also eying the English-language production arena, besides making Italo pics that can travel.

Among new projects in its pipeline are an adaptation of Brit writer Jonathan Coe’s dreamy novel “House of Sleep,” set in a sleep disorder clinic in a Victorian mansion during the 1980s. Pic is being developed by former Miramax exec Gina Gardini, a recent hire, who has also been instrumental to Cattleya’s Oscar drive.

Other projects in Cattleya’s pipeline include:

  • A new film by Gianni Amelio, based on the fiction-writing debut of Rome mayor Walter Veltroni, whose novel “Senza Patricio” is set in an imaginary Argentina. Amelio’s China-set romancer “The Shooting Star,” starring Sergio Castellitto, is now in post and tipped for a Venice bow.

  • “My Brother, an Only Child,” a comedy about two Italo siblingswho in the 1960s become political guerrillas on opposite sides — one a communist, the other a neo-fascist — helmed by skilled social observer Daniele Luchetti (“Ginger And Cinnamon”). Pic, scripted by Stefano Rulli and Sandro Petraglia (“Best of Youth”) is co-produced by Cattleya with Warner Bros. Italy.

  • Paolo Virzi’s Napoleon biopic “N,” a comic reconstruction of Napoleon’s exile on the Italian island of Elba, starring Daniel Auteil and Monica Bellucci. Tozzi described “N,” which is co-produced with Medusa and currently in post, as being about “the typically Italian weakness for dictators.”
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