Italy, India strike prod’n, distrib deal

Third collaborative project underway

Italo production companies are looking for Indian partners on a string of films to be assembled under a pioneering production and distribution deal between the two countries.

Director Francesca Archibugi and writer Doriana Leondeff (“Bread and Tulips”) are finalizing the script on Cattleya’s $11.6 million “Lezioni di volo” (Flight Lessons), with plans to begin shooting in early 2004. Casting is in preliminary stages. The film will be shot in Italy and India, both in Italian and English.

Meanwhile, Aurelio de Laurentiis is producing “Natale a Bombay” (Christmas in Bombay), the latest installment in his ongoing franchise of top-grossing comedies. He plans to travel to India to scout locations in June.

The long-stalled “Chromosome Calcutta,” from Gherardo Pagliei’s Gam Film, is the third Italo-Indian project coming together.

A landmark Italo-Indian deal is one initiative put into place by Italy’s director general for cinema, Gianni Profita, working under culture and arts minister Giuliano Urbani.

“Co-production treaties are a good way of introducing one country to another,” Profita says. “But in order to raise, build and defend European cinema, as minister Urbani says, we need to define film cooperation between countries in ways that will comprise all aspects of the chain of value: from development and production to distribution and exhibition.”

Italy has similar agreements with Spain and Australia awaiting signatures. Per Profita, the Italian government will introduce regs by year’s end to create “near automatic” support for the commercial release of Italian films that clinch sales abroad.

Profita is also looking to reduce state subsidy contribution to individual films this year. Public coin covers some 75% of a budget. It should go down to a maximum 50%, allowing more films to be made, Profita says.

“Producers need to take more responsibility for the films they make,” Profita says. “We want more of an Italian film industry, less artisanal production.”

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