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Frammartino readies animation debut

Italian helmer moves ahead on 'Viale Aretusa 19'

ANNECY– Italy’s Michelangelo Frammartino, whose “Le quattro volte” was a sales breakouts at May’s Cannes Festival, is preparing “Viale Aretusa 19,” his animation debut.

“Viale” is set up at Marta Donzelli’s Vivo Film, the Rome production house behind “Volte.” Philippe Bober, whose Berlin-based Essential Filmproduktion co-produced “Volte,” is exploring financing annd co-production opportunities on “Viale.” Bober’s Coproduction Office also rolled out sales on “Volte.”

With its title taken from the Milan address where Frammartino was born, “Viale” is an autobiographical take on a watershed in modern Italian history, the so-called Riflusso.

Dating from the late ’70s, the Riflusso saw Italians retreat inside their homes, encouraged by a wave of terrorism and the advent of private TV: Silvio Berlusconi launched his first private channel in Italy in 1978.

Written by Frammartino and Barbara Grespi, the screenplay turns on an eight-year-old boy’s day-to-day experience of these years, which he mostly spends at home, while his parents are out at work, Grespi said.

“The ’70s was a time of demonstrations and civic engagement. After that, staying at home, people were exposed to new media. The Riflusso was the beginning of contemporary Italy,” Frammartino told Daily Variety at this week’s Annecy Animation Festival where “Viale” was shortlisted in the festival’s Creative Focus.

“I was a young boy at the time and become a real TV junkie. I felt like Christopher Columbus discovering the New World. But it was a terrible New World,” Frammartino recalls.

“When my mother came home from work, she used to feel how hot the TV set was to judge how many hours I’d been watching TV. So 15 minutes before she came home I used to cool it with a hair dryer,” Frammartino added, describing an event that will make it into the film.

Lending an allegorical thrust to “Viale,” though the years go by, the eight-year-old never ages or grows up.

“This is the story of a generation that never became adults,” Frammartino said.

“The challenge of ‘Viale Aretusa 19’ is to keep to specifics but relate them to important historical events, such as the birth of commercial TV in Italy,” said Donzelli.

“Germany and France experienced similar historical processes,” she added.

Frammartino is testing making “Viale” in watercolored CGI 3D.

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