Italy’s South forges film renaissance

Two large filmmaking facilities launch in Apulia

ROME — Apulia, the southeastern region on the heel of the Italian boot, is stepping up efforts to become a production hub with the launch of two filmmaking facilities, along with a new film fund and a fest set to host the local bow of “Nine.”

The bustling city of Bari, a financial hub for the south, will unveil on Saturday its sprawling Bari Cineporto, comprising production offices, makeup, props and wardrobe rooms, casting studios, a restaurant and a state-of-the-art digital screening room for dailies.

Bari Cineporto, which does not include soundstages, is conceived to lure more productions to shoot externals in the region, which boasts Italy’s highest density of prehistoric sites and ancient architecture plus landscapes running from rugged mountains to the Adriatic Sea.

The facility will include new digs for the Apulia Film Commission, which offers several free services and has just launched a $2.3 million film fund.

Meanwhile, on Jan. 22 the first Bari Film and TV Festival, headed by former Venice topper Felice Laudadio, will kick off with “Nine.”

In February the city of Lecce, known as the Florence of the south for its many historic monuments, will unveil its Lecce Cineporto in a converted industrial complex.

International productions shot recently in the Apulia region include American scribe Mark Bacci’s helming debut, “Five Hours South,” about a break-dancing Italian cop, and Bollywood helmer Sajid Khan’s Hindi-language “House Full.”

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