Complex includes studios, film school, library

MILAN — Italo government ministers have opened a major outpost of Cinecitta film studios in the northern city of Milan.

In addition to a film library and cinema school, there will be major production facilities — with plans afoot to make a new historical drama based on the life of Venetian monk Marco D’Aviano, as well as the digitalization of existing films.

Local and regional government coughed up $12 million to restructure the imposing 1930s cigarette factory in the north of Milan that will house the enterprise — and boost the ability of the rich industrialized north of the country to play a greater role in Italy’s film industry.

Culture minister Sandro Bondi declared the new complex as “possibly the first concrete example of collaboration between central and regional government in order to help the film industry.”

As well as production facilities, the complex will house 20,000 film titles and regional reps of the Center for Experimental Cinematography and the Lombardy region’s Film Commission.

But while inaugurating the center on Monday evening, infrastructure minister Roberto Castelli walked straight into controversy by criticizing Italian filmmakers for making all actors speak with the distinctive Roman accent — regardless of which part of the country there were from.

Reforms minister, Umberto Bossi, a northern-separatist member of Silvio Berlusconi’s coalition government, further upped the ante by declaring: “Until now we’ve had to give money to the Cinecitta in Rome and they made films that insulted us. Now we’ll present our own history.”

But local vet helmer Carlo Verdone was more diplomatic. “If the minister has said the new northern Cinecitta will, without causing friction between Rome and Milan, help Italy’s cinema industry, then I’d agree with him,” he said.

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