Film Quartet Leads Italo Production Run

With four titles flying the red, white and green at Berlin, and a potentially hot clutch in post-production likely Cannes-bound, Italian product could be headed for another banner year on the fest circuit, despite major problems afflicting the industry.

The Berlinale quartet is led by Alberto Simone’s feature bow, “A Ladder to the Moon.”

In the Panorama, Francesca Archibugi’s “With Closed Eyes” will be featured.

Also unspooling is Giacomo Battiato’s brutal drama, “Diary of a Rapist,” a potentially controversial Italo-French-Spanish co-prod, and Massimo Guglielmi’s “Bobby Charlton’s Summer.”

Berlin’s Italian delegate, Sauro Borelli, admits disappointment over three titles that weren’t ready for Berlin and now look headed for a Croisette launch in May.

One is Marco Tullio Giordana’s “Pasolini: An Italian Crime,” a courtroom drama reconstructing the trial of Pino Pelosi, the Roman street kid convicted of killing filmer/poet Pier Paolo Pasolini. Others are “L’Amore Molesto” and “Black Holes,” sophomore efforts of Mario Martone (“Death of a Neapolitan Politician”) and Pappi Corsicato (“Libera”).

A glance at Italy’s upcoming projects for 1995 puts an almost rosy tint on the film production outlook. However, industryites are quick to point out the picture also has its bleaker side.

Last year, investment in co-prods remained roughly stable, but money for 100% local projects was down considerably. For the first time in eight years, the number of locally made pix fell below 100, and U.S. releases grabbed some 75% of local admissions.

But despite grim economic forecasts for 1995, and unsatisfactory government film legislation, the year’s shooting sked bulges with hot arthouse contenders.

Many of Italy’s old maestros will be back behind the camera. Michelangelo Antonioni’s new feature, “Par-dela les Nuages,” due late this summer, comprises four episodes based on Antonioni’s short stories, with a connecting thread, directed by Wim Wenders. In Rome, Ettore Scola has begun shooting “Story of a Poor Young Man,” first of four pix dealing with everyday folks in extraordinary situations.

Bernardo Bertolucci kicks off in April with “I Dance Alone,” a chamber piece shot in Tuscany and his first in many years sans regular lenser Vittorio Storaro.

Also skedded to start this spring is Francesco Rosi’s long-stalled film, “The Truce,” Primo Levi’s classic account of his liberation from a World War II concentration camp. An early summer start is penciled in for the Taviani Bros.’ “Elective Affinities,” a drama of tormented souls in Renaissance Tuscany slated to topline Isabelle Huppert.

Younger helmers have no shortage of hot projects. Alessandro D’Alatri, whose “No Skin” was a muscular performer at home and a popular 1994 fest entry, will start shooting his as-yet-untitled, U.S.-lensed third feature in late spring.

Director Nanni Moretti (“Dear Diary”) stars as a professor enamored of the female terrorist who shot him in the head in first-time helmer Mimmo Calopresti’s “The Second Time,” slated for fall completion.

Debutant Alessandro Cappeletti has wrapped the Mexican shoot of “Viva San Isidro,” which reteams “Like Water for Chocolate” stars Lumi Cavazos and Marco Leonardi as young lovers embroiled in a cocaine scam.

Daniele Luchetti (“The Factotum”) is due back early in the year with the classroom comedy-drama, “The School.” Also an early-1995 opener is Leone Pompucci’s “Waiters,” a follow-up to “Mille Bolle Blu,” which scored overseas pickup in several prime territories. The new pic teams comic veteran Paolo Villaggio with “Mediterraneo” star Diego Abatantuono.

Giuseppe Tornatore (“A Pure Formality”) is in post with “Star Man,” a yarn of a shyster who poses as a studio talent scout in postwar Sicily. Ditto Roberto Faenza with “According to Pereira,” a Lisbon-set story of a disillusioned old journalist starring Marcello Mastroianni.

Maurizio Nichetti (“Icicle Thief”) is shooting “Snowball,” an elaborate kidpic about a beluga dolphin. At the other end of the scale, horrormeister Dario Argento is adapting “The Stendhal Syndrome” to an Italian setting. Originally conceived as an English-lingo pic to be shot in the U.S., the film will now topline Argento’s daughter, Asia.