Italians pull ‘Prince’ from Berlin film fest

ROME — Marco Bellocchio’s “The Prince of Homburg,” the sole competition entry from Italy in the upcom-ing Berlin Film Festival, has been withdrawn by its director and producers. The 11th-hour retreat now stands to rekindle tension between the German event and the Italian film production sector.

Adapted from the 18th century drama of the same name by German playwright Heinrich Von Kleist, Bellocchio’s film reportedly failed to make Berlin director Moritz de Hadeln’s initial selection. Italian press items indicated the pic was included in the competition lineup only after a second viewing by other members of the fest’s programming committee.

Notifying De Hadeln of the decision to withdraw, Bellocchio pointed to the fest topper’s hesitation as the decisive factor.

The director’s son and producer Piergiorgio Bellocchio has subsequently stated that the move to withdraw was based on concern over the reception German critics might give a classic of national literature reinterpreted by an Italian. He added that the decision was reached in unison by the director, producer Istituto Luce and international sales agent Sacis.

Insiders are speculating, however, that the Bellocchio pic has since been seen by Cannes selection committee members, whose favorable response led producers to hold out for the hope of a bigger spotlight on the Croisette. Bellocchio’s last feature, “The Dream of the Butterfly,” bowed as the opening film in Un Certain Regard at the 1994 Cannes fest.

The tendency of Italian producers to favor Cannes over Berlin has prompted gripes in the past.

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