RAI embraces English-lingo fare

Pubcaster film unit drumming up funds for 'Affair,' ' Iron Crown'

Italy’s RAI Cinema is looking to break into the English-language pic production arena via two projects.

One is “A Venetian Affair,” a true-tale romancer set during Casanova’s time, and the other is “The Iron Crown,” a remake of the Alessandro Blasetti blockbuster fantasy from 1942 which centers on a crown made from the Cross of Jesus.

The pubcaster film unit is here in Berlin to drum up coin for these projects and to support Roberto Benigni’s latest comedy, “The Tiger and the Snow,” which unspools Saturday as a Berlinale Special event.

“Affair” is based on Italian journalist Andrea di Robilant’s eponymous novel, published in the U.S. by Knopf and excerpted recently in “The New Yorker.”

Book draws on real corrspondence between a Venetian nobleman and a non-blue-blooded Brit having an illicit afffair in mid-eighteenth century Venice. Casanova is among minor characters.

RAI Cinema is developing “Affair” with Lakeshore, its regular Hollywood sales conduit and also occasional production partner.

Lakeshore has selected U.S. scribe Alison Burnett (“Autumn in New York”) to pen the script, while RAI is in talks with Italian helmer Marco Ponti (“Santa Maradona”) to direct the pic. Feature is budgeted in the $15 million range.

In Berlin, RAI Cinema topper Giancarlo Leone said he has started shopping “Affair” to additional prospective U.S. and European investors.

As for “Crown,” no helmer is yet attached to the remake — a first draft of the script for which has now been completed by Gianni Romoli. Leone said the idea was to now give the Italian-lingo script an English tweak.

“It’s a very strong story linking the Roman Empire with the Middle Ages which I think could appeal to a broad audience, starting with ‘Lord of the Rings’ fans,” Leone said.

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