'La Prima' film about 70s leftist guerillas

ROME Italy’s first film based on a leftist guerilla’s memoir is triggering a fusillade of fire about the sensitive topic of terrorism, even as cameras roll more than three decades after the country’s so-called “years of lead.”

Titled “La Prima Linea” (Front Line), the already controversial pic-in-the-making is named after a Red Brigades-affiliated terrorist cell that wrought havoc locally in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Co-produced by Lucky Red with venerable Belgian directorial duo the Dardennes brothers wearing their producer hats, this depiction of a daring commando attack on a high-security jail is roughly one-third funded by the Italian government.

Lucky Red is the indie behind “Il Divo,” Paolo Sorrentino’s scathing satirical biopic of Italo elder statesman Giulio Andreotti, for which the shingle did not get public coin.

“Front Line” is being helmed by Renato De Maria, whose drama “Amatemi” drew critical plaudits. It stars hot local thesp Riccardo Scamarcio, the lead in Costa Gavras’ recent “Eden Is West,” who here plays the commando leader, with fellow A-lister Giovanna Mezzogiorno (Love in the Time of Cholera) as his incarcerated lover.

Pic is set in 1982 when guerillas headed by Prima Linea leader Sergio Segio blew up the outer wall of a penitentiary to free fellow terrorists from behind bars, as narrated in Segio’s memoir “Miccia Corta” (Short Fuse) published after he was released from prison, where he spent 22 years.

Italy’s turbulent terrorist period culminated in 1978 when the Red Brigades kidnapped and killed then-Italian prime minister Aldo Moro. The “years of lead” have been the subject of many Italo pics, but none yet based on a terrorist’s book.

The chorus of critics comprises family members of leftist terrorism victims, many of whom are livid that “Front Line” was granted government coin. Some are also up in arms about the fact that Scamarcio is a local heartthrob, making its protag a “cool and hunky terrorist,” laments Benedetta Tobagi, whose father, a journo, was gunned down by a leftist cell in 1980.

Latest to lash out against “Front Line” is retired U.S. Army General James Lee Dozier, who was also kidnapped by the Red Brigades, in 1981, and subsequently freed by Italian police.

“A film that risks glorifying the actions of red terrorists would be a real disgrace,” he warns.

Lucky Red topper Andrea Occhipinti has countered by calling the film “a suffered testimony that leads to a radical criticism of political violence and the use of weapons.”

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