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BERLIN –Launching its biggest promo push in the last 15 years, the Italian film industry is driving into Latin America, kick-starting its surge with a multifaceted and mass presence at March’s 30th Guadalajara Film Festival. This will play out through sections, tributes and an important market presence.

Highlights at Guadalajara, which runs March 6-15, include the award of a its International Mayahuel Award to Bernardo Bertolucci, who will attend the festival. Honor recognizes Bertolucci’s contribution to world cinema and acknowledged influence on many of Latin America’s most important filmmakers.

Also on the agenda: a Bruno Bozzetto retrospective, a 34-pic recent Italian cinema panorama, and a major Guadalajara market attendance of producers, institutions and sales agents of Italian films. Among the latter are RAI Com, RAI Cinema, Adriana Chiesa Enterprises, Intramovies, The Match Factory, Domenico Procacci’s Fandango Distribuzione, Hengameh Panahi’s Celluloid Dreams, Doc & Film, The Open Reel, Bolero Film and Nomad Film, said Luce-Cinecitta’s Cristina Cassano.

Spearheaded by the ICE-Agenzia Italian Film Commission, promo org Luce Cinecitta and state film agency ANICA, the Guadalajara Fest spread reflects a broader pan-regional rollout: 2015-Year of Italy in Latin America. Argentina and Brazil host further industry events.

The Year of Italy reflects a sobering reality for independent film industries and companies worldwide. As the pre-sales market for films contracts, there are very few places in the world that currently offer some upside in terms of growth markets. For Italian cinema, Latin America, because of its cultural proximity, may be one.

“A cultural drive, but with an eye on industrial effects,” said Roberto Cicutto, Luce Cinecitta prexy, 2015 – Year of Italy in Latin America has been years in the making, and represents a broad-based institutional alliance also involving Italy’s Ministries of Economic Development and Foreign Affairs, Italian film and TV producers assns. and film commissions at federal and regional levels. “We will either be successful in strategic places like Latin America or nowhere,” Cicutto added of Italian film industry’s international push.

Italian film authorities will organize a showcase of Italian cinema in Buenos Aires in June, and repeat a Luce Cinecitta exhibition celebrating a centenary of Italian cinema. They aim to announce initiatives in Brazil. Bertolucci will attend a late year Havana Festival retrospective.

Italy’s movie incentive system will be presented on March 10 at Guadalajara, with specialists drilling down on national, regional and distribution funds, tax credits, product placements and film commissions: Lures for potential international co-productions or shoots.

The Italy-Mexico co-production treaty also needsto be reviewed, Nicola Borrelli, head of the Italian Culture Ministry’s film department, said at the Berlin press conference announcing the Italian Guadalajara push. “We should take advantage of the presence in Guadalajara of the most important film institutions from Mexico and Italy,” he added.

In market terms, Ice-Agenzia and ANICA will take a stand in Guadalajara’s Film Market. Andrea Stucovitz’s Partner Media Investment will pitch Andrea Pallaoro’s “The Whale” at fest’s 11th Co-production Forum.  Giulio Manfredonia’s “La Nostra Tierra” (Mafia & Red Tomatoes), about a cooperative on Mafia-confiscated land, will receive a gala screening. An Italian film will screen in competition at Guadalajara.

In other events, Connect4Climate will celebrate Film4Climate. Running March 9-10, and marking the first green film forum in Mexico, the two-day conference will analyze how the film industry is taking on climate change, and organize special screenings. The winners of short-film competition Action4Climate, with a jury chaired by Bertolucci, will also be screened. Conference will have a studio presence, said Connect4Climate’s Donald K. Ranvaud. Ideas to be discussed include financial rewards for green films.

Chosen by Guadalajara director Ivan Trujillo from over 150 films, the contemporary Italian cinema panorama covers 2012-14 and three generations of filmmakers, starting with revered auteurs such as Marco Bellocchio (“Sleeping Beauty), Bertolucci – with a gala screening of “Me and You” climaxing his tribute, and Paulo and Vittorio Taviani (2012 Berlin Golden Bear winner “Caesar Must Die”).

It also takes in Italian cineastes born in the 1960s or just some years before but now at the forefront of Italian filmmaking, scoring prizes, sales, major fest berths or English–language production deals; or combinations of these factors: Paulo Sorrentino (Oscar winner “The Grand Beauty”) Paolo Virzi (“Human Capital”), Matteo Garrone (Cannes competition player “Reality”) and Giuseppe Tornatore (“The Best Offer”). Of the films selected, a notable number turn on parent-child or other family relationships. A clutchmesh in varying ways fiction and documentary elements or tones: Salvatore Meneu’s “Beautiful Butterflies” or the Taviani brothers’ “Julius Cesar,” Trujillo said.

Section also takes in at least one standout debut – Pierfrancesco Diliberto’s “The Mafia Kills Only in the Summer – ” and other well-reviewed films from lesser-known talents, such as Francesco Munzi’s Calabrian mafia tale “Black Souls.” Another showcase highlight will no doubt be two shouldn’t-miss filmmaker-on-filmmaker documentaries: “Bertolucci on Bertolucci,” from Luca Guadagnino and Walter Fasano, director and editor of “I Am Love”; and Ettore Scola’s heartfelt tribute to a lifetime friend: “How Strange To Be Called Federico: Scola Narrates Fellini.”

The Bruno Bozzetto retrospective, a tribute to Italy’s resilient animator, will take in his 1965 feature debut, Western spoof “West and Soda,” 1968 super hero comedy “Los SuperVips” and 1978’s “Allegro Non Troppo,” a shorts omnibus set to the music of Disney’s “Fantasia.” All of his features will screen in recently restored versions.

A delegation of some 20 film writers and cineastes will travel to Guadalajara for the Bertolucci and Bozzetto tributes. One of the three books published to accompany the Italian presence in Guadalajara will feature articles by critics from Ibero-America, explaining how Italian cinema influenced their lives, Cassano said.

Guadalajara will stage a screening of 1915’s “Assunta Spina” (Neapolitan Blood), directed by Gustavo Serena and starring Francesca Bertini, regarded as a move towards a more realistic acting style, and made at a time when Italian cinema commanded large audiences in Mexico, Trujillo commented.

By cultural proximity, Italy ought to have some kind of more than nominal market share in Latin America.

In recent times, that has still to happen. Of the 34 movies on Trujillo’s contempo Italian line-up, only five have been bought for distribution in Mexico: Nueva Era Films acquired “Caesar Must Die”; Cineteca Nacional bought “How Strange To Be Called Federico”; Alfhaville Cinema has taken “Human Capital,” an early 2014 sales standout for France’s BAC Film, Mantarraya Producciones snagged Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Great Beauty”; Swen acquired Giuseppe Tornatore’s “The Best Offer” as part of a pan-Latin American buy.