Brutal story told in ‘Diaz’

ROME – On July 21, 2001, during the Genoa G8 summit, British journalist Mark Covell was beaten to a pulp and left for dead, bleeding on the ground outside the Diaz Pascoli school amid hundreds of Italian riot policemen.

“They knocked out 16 of my teeth and put me in a coma,” the Indymedia reporter recounted.

More than 10 years later, he is in Berlin as part of the entourage of hot-button drama “Diaz — Don’t Clean Up This Blood,” helmer Daniele Vicari’s realistic reconstruction of that infamous police brutality, which comprises Covell’s deeply devastating experience along with several others.

“Diaz,” which unspools Feb. 12 in Panorama Special, is produced by Domenico Procacci, who put up more than half of its hefty $9.5 million budget. The pics tell what Covell calls the mother of all anti-globalization stories.

“This film was born out of the convinction that nobody has paid for what happened in Genoa, and probably nobody ever will,” Procacci said.

None of the senior Italo police honchos in charge at the time have been convicted, though the trials process is not over.

The multi-language pic was shot mostly in Bucharest, Genoa and in Italy’s Alpine Alto Adige region. It is co-produced by Procacci’s Fandango, Gaul’s Le Pacte and Romania’s Mandragora Prods.

For helmer Daniele Vicari, who has a dual background in docus (“My Country”) and fiction films (“Horizons of Events”), the “biggest problem wasn’t what are we going to tell, but how are we going to tell it,” he said.

Working on the transcript of the trials with co-scripter Laura Paolucci (“Quiet Chaos”) “we tried to extrapolate the dynamic which generated this level of violence, which is very scary.”

Pic isn’t for the fainthearted.

Berlin topper Dieter Kosslick, presenting the Panorama Special section, said scenes in “Diaz” were “so violent, that we were perplexed.”

For Procacci, who will distribute the pic theatrically in Italy through his own Fandango shingle, the hope is for “Diaz,” “to have a life outside Italy, and not just theatrically but on TV as well.”

Pic stars Germany’s Jennifer Ulrich, Gaul’s Emilie de Preissac and Romania’s Monica Barladeanu, alongside Italy’s Elio Germano and Cladio Santamaria; Fandango Portobello is kicking off sales at EFM.

“We want to reach audiences that don’t really know, or have a precise opinion, about what happened,” Procacci said.

In Italy, broadcasters have not shown interest so far, but that may change.

Despite its scathing indictment of Italo officials, “Diaz” obtained more than $500,000 in financing from the Italian Culture Ministry, and there were no major attempts to muzzle the pic on the part of Italy’s police forces.

That said, when production moved from Romania to Genoa, local police initially confiscated the production’s equipment and subsequently kept a close eye on the shoot, Procacci noted.

Also screening, on Feb. 14, in Panorama Dokumente, is Franco Fragassi and Massimo Lauria’s docu “The Summit,” featuring real footage of that tragic Genoa G8 summit.

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