Vivo to produce Alex Zanardi docu

Slate includes Emma Dante's 'Via Castellana Bandiera'

Italy’s Vivo Film will produce a documentary about former Formula 1 driver Alex Zanardi, who became an icon when he returned to competitive racing after losing his legs in a crash.

Zanardi, who is now targeting a spot on the Italian handcycling team at the 2012 paralympics in London, hopes to spotlight “similar stories that are less celebrated than his,” said Vivo topper Gregorio Paonessa. Documaker Alessandro Rossetto is in advanced talks to direct.

Known for his vitality and sense of humor, Zanardi has made several guest appearances on “Late Show With David Letterman” and currently hosts a science TV show on Italo pubcaster RAI.

Vivo Film has other projects in the pipeline.

Theater helmer Emma Dante, who has directed the opening of Milan’s La Scala, will make her feature debut with “Via Castellana Bandiera,” a Sicilian dramedy set in her native Palermo. Pic will be produced with Mario Gianani’s Offside (“Vincere”) and Switzerland’s Ventura Film, which collaborated with Vivo on Michelangelo Frammartino’s “Le quattro volte,” picked up by Lorber Films for the U.S.

Plan is to start shooting in Sicily before the end of summer. Cinecitta Luce will distribute.

“Beirut, I Love You” is a memoir by artist and blogger Zena el Khalil of the 2006 attacks on Lebanon. It’s being developed as the feature debut of documaker Gigi Roccati, to be shot in Lebanon and the U.S.

Meanwhile, Frammartino’s previously announced followup to “Le quattro volte,” the animated “Viale aretusa 19” is due to start production this year in association with Philippe Bober’s Berlin-based Essential Filmproduktion.

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