BAARIA

Director: Giuseppe Tornatore

Producer: Medusa and Tarak Ben Ammar’s Quinta Communications

Stars: Monica Bellucci, Raoul Bova, Laura Chiatti

The scoop: Twenty years after “Cinema Paradiso,” Tornatore mines similar ground, albeit on a grander scale, in “Baaria” a $30 million autobiographical epic spanning three generations of life in a Sicilian village meticulously reconstructed on a massive Tunisian set. “Baaria,” which is Sicilian slang for Tornatore’s native Bagheria, features an ensemble cast of 200 characters, hordes of extras and an Ennio Morricone score. Pic has been described by Tornatore as “funny and melancholy,” more personal than “Paradiso,” and his most ambitious project to date. “Baaria,” which is expected to be completed in spring, has been presold to Tobis for Germany. Medusa will release in Italy and Quinta in France.

Sales: Summit Intl.

THE CASE OF UNFAITHFUL KLARA

Director: Roberto Faenza

Producer: Elda Ferri’s Jean Vigo shingle

Stars: Iain Glen, Claudio Santamaria, Laura Chiatti

The scoop: This Prague-set adaptation of bestselling Czech author Michal Viewegh’s eponymous tome has enough international elements for potential travel. Brit thesp Glen plays a private detective hired by an obsessed pop musician (Santamaria) to follow his sexy student girlfriend (Chiatti) in what is billed as a surreal and sophisticated love tangle with a Venice-set climax. While not a big name, helmer Roberto Faenza is a fixture on the international festival circuit. Medusa is releasing in Italy in early 2009.

Sales: None

GIALLO

Director: Dario Argento

Producer: Rafael Primorac/Arramis Films

Stars: Adrien Brody, Emmanuelle Seigner, Elsa Pataki

The scoop: Billed as Dario Argento’s English-language homage to the genre that made him a horror-meister, “Giallo” boasts an A-list international cast and a script penned by young Yank scribes Sean Keller and Jim Agnew. Adrien Brody plays a detective who hooks up with a flight attendant (Emmanuelle Seigner) on a run against the clock to save her supermodel sister (Elsa Pataki) from a serial killer. Argento has said he would like to world preem “Giallo” — which has been sold to the Weinstein Co. for the U.S. — in Cannes.

Sales: Hannibal Pictures

 

FORTAPASC

Director: Marco Risi

Producer: Angelo Barbagallo/Bibi Films

Stars: Libero De Rienzo, Ernesto Mahieux, Valentina Lodovini

The scoop: Just as Matteo Garrone’s “Gomorrah” gains international kudos, another Neapolitan mob pic prepares to hit Italo screens and perhaps break out internationally. Garrone’s naturalistic crimer is famously based on a best-selling expose of the Neapolitan Camorra syndicate by journo Roberto Saviano, who is currently in hiding under police protection. Marco Risi’s “Fortapasc” is the true tale of another idealistic reporter, Giancarlo Siani, whom the Camorra assassinated after he stuck his nose in its affairs in the 1980s. The title, “Fortapasc,” is a deliberate Italian distortion of “Fort Apache,” the John Ford/John Wayne classic Western, which has become Neapolitan slang to describe Camorra warfare. Pic is skedded for Italo release via 01 Distribuzione in early 2009.

Sales: None

QUESTO PICCOLO GRANDE AMORE

Director: Riccardo Donna

Producer: Giannandrea Pecorelli

Stars: Maria P. Petruolo, Emanuele Bosi

The scoop: A concept movie inspired by Italy’s all-time top-selling pop song — the title translates as “This Small Big Love” — this crossover 1970s-set teen romancer will hit Italo screens on St. Valentine’s Day armed with enough amorous ammunition to make a likely killing at the local box office. Medusa will release wide on Feb. 12. Rome-set pic about two young love birds draws on each song of the titular 1972 album by Claudio Baglioni. Prospects for export are slim but not to be ruled out entirely.

Sales: None

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