×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Helmer battles Italo conservatives

'Beauty's' right to die theme piques ire

ROME — Revered “provoc-auteur” Marco Bellocchio (“Vincere”) is stirring Italo ire with his latest hot-button project, “Sleeping Beauty,” which takes its cue from a divisive local right-to die case similar to the 2005 Terri Schiavo controversy in the U.S.

The Friuli Venezia Giulia region, known for its conservative Catholic bent, is trying to prevent production shingle Cattleya from obtaining up to $200,000 in gap financing for Bellocchio’s “Beauty,” which interweaves three separate life-and-death story strands against the backdrop of Italy’s 2009 Eluana Englaro right-to-die controversy.

Englaro, 38, had spent 17 years in a vegetative state following a car crash. Her family, with the support of Italian president Giorgio Napolitano, eventually won a decade-long court battle that pitted them against then-premier Silvio Berlusconi and the Vatican to allow doctors to take her off life-support.

Co-penned by Italo scribe Stefano Rulli (“The Best of Youth”) and novelist Veronica Raimo, “Beauty” includes a storyline — which gives the film its title — involving a past-her-prime movie star, played by Isabelle Huppert, who keeps her beautiful but comatose daughter alive inside their home. Another strand sees Italo actress Alba Rohrwacher (“I Am Love”) as a young Catholic militant; her father is played by Toni Servillo (“Il Divo”).

“We don’t want to be perceived as a place that fosters a culture of death,” lamented one of the region’s pols after attempting to prevent the pic from even applying for local coin.

But Bellocchio and Cattleya are forging ahead.

“Denying access to funding for this film is against the law, and perhaps even the constitution,” says Cattleya topper Riccardo Tozzi, who has filed for the funds. “This is a deeply spiritual film about love, not about death.”

Tozzi points out that the objecting pols haven’t read the script, and notes that, in any event, the decision regarding coin for the pic is up to the FVG Film Commission, not local officials.

” ‘Beauty” is not about the Englaro case, nor does it take sides in the issue,” says Bellocchio, who has been making movies about the dark side of Italy’s national psyche since he burst on the scene in 1965 with dysfunctional family drama “Fists in the Pocket,” featuring fratricide, matricide and suggested sister incest.

Explaining his fascination with the right-to-die topic, Bellocchio recently noted that “as a leftist, I made a film on leftist terrorism (2003’s “Good Morning, Night,” about the Red Brigades’ kidnapping of Italo premiere Aldo Moro). Now, as a former Jesuit school student, I want to tackle the theme of euthanasia.”

Shooting is set to start Jan.30 in Friuli, with Cattleya and Gaul’s Babe Films co-producing with RAI Cinema, which will release the pic in Italy.

More Film

  • Abigail Disney on Bob Iger

    Abigail Disney Calls Bob Iger's $65 Million Compensation 'Insane'

    Disney chairman-CEO Bob Iger’s total compensation for Disney’s fiscal 2018 was a whopping $65.6 million. Abigail Disney, the granddaughter of Disney co-founder Roy Disney, calls that sum “insane.”  While speaking at the Fast Company Impact Council, the filmmaker and philanthropist insisted that this level of corporate payout has a “corrosive effect on society.” Disney took [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Tops International

    'Curse of La Llorona' Tops International Box Office With $30 Million

    Warner Bros. and New Line’s “The Curse of La Llorona” led the way at the international box office, summoning $30 million when it opened in 71 foreign markets. The supernatural thriller collected $26.5 million in North America for a global start of $56.5 million. “La Llorona,” based on the Mexican folklore about the Weeping Woman, [...]

  • Box Office: 'Curse of La Llorona'

    Box Office: 'Curse of La Llorona' Wins Worst Easter Weekend in Over a Decade

    Warner Bros. and New Line’s “The Curse of La Llorona” ascended to the top of domestic box office charts, conjuring $26.5 million when it opened in 3,372 North American theaters. “La Llorona” is the latest horror movie to outperform expectations, further cementing the genre as one of the most reliable box office draws. Even so, [...]

  • FX's 'Snowfall' Panel TCA Winter Press

    John Singleton Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

    UPDATED with statements from John Singleton’s family and FX Networks John Singleton, the Oscar nominated director and writer of “Boyz N’ the Hood,” has suffered a stroke. Sources confirm to Variety that Singleton checked himself into the hospital earlier this week after experiencing pain in his leg. The stroke has been characterized by doctors as [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow

    'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow Easter Weekend at the Box Office

    New Line’s horror pic “The Curse of La Llorona” will summon a solid $25 million debut at the domestic box office, leading a quiet Easter weekend before Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” hits theaters on April 26. The James Wan-produced “La Llorona,” playing in 3,372 theaters, was a hit with hispanic audiences, who accounted for nearly 50% [...]

  • Jim Jarmusch in 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    Film Review: 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    “Carmine Street Guitars” is a one-of-a-kind documentary that exudes a gentle, homespun magic. It’s a no-fuss, 80-minute-long portrait of Rick Kelly, who builds and sells custom guitars out of a modest storefront on Carmine Street in New York’s Greenwich Village, and the film touches on obsessions that have been popping up, like fragrant weeds, in [...]

  • Missing Link Laika Studios

    ‘Missing Link’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Annapurna Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “Missing Link.” Ads placed for the animated film had an estimated media value of $5.91 million through Sunday for [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content