Helmers rally to Cinecitta’s defense

Bertolucci, Loach, Costa-Gavras oppose development

BRUSSELS — A campaign to save the legendary Cinecitta film studios in Rome has been launched by Europe’s helmers.

The protest follows a strike at the studios over plans to break up filmmaking activity into separate businesses, with significant outsourcing and redevelopment of the site to include hotels, health clubs and a Cinecitta theme park.

Italian helmers led the attack with a letter to President Giorgio Napolitano and Prime Minister Mario Monti asking them to intercede. Local grandees such as Bernardo Bertolucci and Ettore Scola signed the letter, along with international figures including Ken Loach, Costa-Gavras and Vanessa Redgrave.

Scola contacted the French industry, which launched an appeal for Europe to intervene.

“We call on the European authorities to act rapidly and responsibly to protect and classify this culturally historic monument,” read a petition circulating Wednesday.

Early signatories include “The Artist” helmer Michel Hazanavicius, and veterans Claude Lelouch and Jean-Jacques Beineix.

The French call to arms is scathing about the plan. “Is it urgent to destroy this place inseparable from the cinema of Fellini, Visconti, Comencini and Lattuada, amongst others, in order to build a fitness center?” it said.

The petition continued, “Even under Berlusconi, they didn’t dare,” referring to Italy’s former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi.