Euthanasia drama shaping up as big Italo fall offering

PARIS Building on a burgeoning Italy-France film axis, Italo helmer Marco Bellocchio is linking with Hengameh Panahi’s Celluloid Dreams on euthanasia tale “Dormant Beauty.”

Now in post, “Beauty” promises to be one of Italy’s most controversial arthouse offerings of the fall.

“Dormant” stars Gaul’s Isabelle Huppert as an over-the-hill actress caring in her home for her beautiful daughter, who is in a persistent vegetative state. Italians Alba Rohrwacher (“I Am Love”) and Toni Servillo (“Il Divo”) co-star.

Pic’s produced by Italy’s Cattleya, in which Universal has a minority stake, and co-produced by France’s Babe Films.

Paris-based Celluloid Dreams has sealed worldwide rights outside Italy and France on “Beauty,” which will pre-launch at the Cannes Film Festival.

In January, right-wing pols in Italy’s Friuli Venezia Gulia region where “Beauty” shot, tried to prevent Cattleya accessing up to $200,000 in gap funding from the region’s coffers, claiming the film took a pro right-to-die stance. Euthanasia remains a huge issue in Catholic Italy.

Bellocchio and Panahi are used to polemics. Celluloid Dreams sold Bellocchio’s 2009 Cannes Competition player “Vincere,” about Italo WWII dictator Benito Mussolini’s secret lover, which brought Bellocchio to a larger audience, and 2003’s “Good Morning, Night,” on the Red Brigade’s abduction of Italo prime minister Aldo Moro.

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