Buena Vista Intl. Italia is making its first foray into local production with Sicily-set “Salvatore,” a true tale of an enterprising young orphan, the first of several projects being developed with international distribution prospects.
“We have received strong support from our senior management to produce local films and release them worldwide,” Buena Vista Intl. Italia topper Paul Zonderland said Thursday. “If we find the right writers and producers, we can give them an excellent international platform because the value and the strength of the Disney brand is so tremendous.”
It’s a great opportunity for Italy’s cash-strapped film community, even though BVI plans more than two or three local pics per year.
Helmed by first-timer Giampaolo Curno, “Salvatore” stars Giancarlo Giannini (“Hannibal”), Enrico Lo Verso (“Alatriste”) and Gabriele Lavia (“The Legend of the Pianist on the Ocean”) in a feel-good family drama about a Sicilian 12-year-old who supports himself, his sister and his grandmother after his parents pass away.
Pic, currently in post, is co-produced by Buena Vista, with Rome-based Pietro Innocenzi’s Globe Film. It will be released in Italy this year.
A half dozen other projects in preliminary stages include a teen-horror flick, but most are “wholesome pictures embodying the values that one normally expects from a Disney movie,” Zonderland said.
“Our main focus is entertainment for the whole family centered around a great story. Italy, with its rich tradition and landscape, has plenty of potential for that,” he said.
Buena Vista Italia follows a trend started by Warner Bros., which has been an active production player here since 2001. Its recent Italo titles include gangster epic “Crime Novel,” co-produced with Cattleya. Sony recently scored a hit with its first Italo foray, the steamy “Melissa P,” based on a best-selling book purporting to be the diary of a sexually active Sicilian teen.