Venice Film Festival 2011

Landing two features in the Lido competish is a first for leading Italian shingle Cattleya, in which U has a 20% stake. In what may seem a curious twist, Cattleya is coming to Venice with two auteur-driven titles, Cristina Comencini’s dark Alpine-set romancer “Quando la notte” and Emanuele Crialese’s highly charged drama “Terraferma,” during the year it scored its biggest hit ever with commercial laffer “Welcome to the South,” a remake of Gallic megahit “Welcome to the Sticks.”

Of course Cattleya founder and co-topper Riccardo Tozzi does not see any contradiction there.

“We have several strands of production,” he says. “One is ambitious auteur cinema for a broad audience, and another are comedies.”

Both types of movies can benefit from the growth trend being enjoyed by Italian movies at the home box office, where Tozzi estimates local product will account for at least 40% of the market this year, almost on par with Hollywood.

That’s why Tozzi, who also heads Italy’s motion picture association ANICA, is surprised by recent signals indicating that some majors, including U, may be either pulling out of local production or diminishing their involvement.

“As I see it, almost everywhere in Europe, and certainly in Italy, there is an irreversible tendency toward growth of local cinema at the home box office,” he says. “So I think these signs may be due more to temporary contingency factors than a real strategic design.”

Cattleya expects to capitalize on Italy’s rekindled love affair with local cinema with laffers such as “Welcome to the South” sequel “Welcome to the North,” which is shooting, and “Lessons in Chocolate 2,” which Universal will soon release locally.

Also in the Cattleya pipeline is a remake of hit sexy Spanish musical “The Other Side of the Bed,” which Tozzi hopes will continue its European redo roll.

By contrast, on the auteur front, Cattleya has new pics in the works with plenty of gravitas. Marco Tullio Giordana (“Best of Youth”) is shooting “Romanzo di una strage,” about Italy’s most infamous act of postwar political terrorism, the Piazza Fontana massacre; TV helmer Stefano Sollima (“Romanzo Criminale”) has shot “A.C.A.B. — All Cops Are Bastards,” a drama about tensions with cops seen from a policeman’s point of view; and Daniele Luchetti (“My Brother Is an Only Child”) is in early stages on an untitled pic about the left-right political conflict embedded in Italy’s DNA.

Also shooting is “Siberian Education,” Gabriele Salvatores’ first foray into English-language filmmaking, adapted from the best-selling crime-world memoir by Italy-based Russian scribe and tattoo artist Nicolai Lilin, with John Malkovich attached and Universal on board.

VENICE FILM FESTIVAL 2011:

Mueller navigates art, biz and glamour | Impressive lineup builds on perfect ’10 | | Art pics join Cattleya herd | Venice addresses venue woes with fresh plans | Horizon titles complement competish titles
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