ROME – New York-based digital distribution network Emerging Pictures and Italy’s film promotional org. Istituto Luce-Cinecittà have partnered on “Cinema Made In Italy,” which will provide U.S. digital distribution and marketing support to five high-profile Italian titles, starting with Paolo Sorrentino’s foreign-language Oscar contender “The Great Beauty,” (pictured) which is already on release stateside via Janus Films.

Managed by Barry Rebo and Fine Line Features founder Ira Deutchman, Emerging Pictures delivers independent films and alternative content to some 400 North American venues, spanning from traditional arthouse cinemas and museums to multiplexes. They also work with Gallic promotion org Unifrance, among others, a clear indication of the crucial role played by digital distribution in getting more U.S. eyeballs for foreign movies.

With “The Great Beauty,” the “Cinema Made In Italy” initiative bowed in 25 cities in more than 100 theatres in 15 states, enthused Italo Trade Commissioner Carlo Angelo Bocchi in a statement. Sorrentino’s pic has pulled a strong nearly $1.5 million stateside so far since its November 15, 2013, release by Janus in tandem with the “Cinema Made in Italy” initiative. 

The other four “Cinema Made In Italy” titles  to be rolled out in the U.S.in coming months are actress Valeria Golino’s directorial debut “Honey,” about an attractive young woman who is an angel of death; Marco Bellocchio’s also euthanasia-themed “Dormant Beauty”; Bernardo Bertolucci’s teen-angst drama “Me and You”; and Gianni Amelio’s economic crisis comedy “L’intrepido – A Lonely Hero.” These films are now ensured a nationwide stateside release via Emerging Pictures thanks to marketing and distribution support coin from Istituto Luce-Cinecittà and the Italian Trade Commission. 

Luce-Cinecittà topper Roberto Cicutto noted that the current success stateside of Sorrentino’s “Beauty” proves there is a greater potential audience for Italian cinema in the U.S. “This new platform will give our movies the chance to be seen in a wide array of theatres throughout the U.S., and not just in specialised art houses in a few big cities,” Cicutto added.

“Italian cinema has always captured the imagination of American audiences since the heyday of Fellini, Pasolini, Visconti, De Sica and Rossellini,” said Deutchman. “Our goal is to create a marketing and distribution initiative that will allow new Italian films to regularly enter the marketplace with a presence and to help create an ongoing new audience.”