Tornatore’s ‘Baaria’ to open Venice

First Italian pic in two decades to kick off fest

Giuseppe Tornatore’s lavish Sicilian epic “Baaria” will open the 66th Venice Film Festival on Sept. 2, marking the first time in two decades the Lido will have kicked off with an Italian film.

“Baaria,” a $30 million ensemble pic spanning three generations in Tornatore’s native Sicilian village of Bagheria, will screen in competition. The title of the film is Sicilian slang for Bagheria.

The pic is the local industry’s most costly production in recent memory.

Produced by Medusa and Tarak Ben Ammar’s Quinta Communications, “Baaria” was mostly shot on a massive Tunisian set in Ben Arous, an industrial area outside the city of Tunis.

The large ensemble cast includes Monica Bellucci, Michele Placido, Raoul Bova, Luigi Lo Cascio, Laura Chiatti and Donatella Finocchiaro. Ennio Morricone composed the score.

Newcomers Francesco Scianna and Margareth Made are the pic’s leads.

Tornatore’s most ambitious project to date, the partly autobiographical “Baaria” has been described by the helmer as “funny and melancholic.”

After the Sept. 2 gala screening on the Lido, “Baaria” will bow on Italo screens via Medusa on Sept. 25.

Summit Intl. is handling international sales. The Venice fest wraps Sept. 12.

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