Cinephil Takes ‘The Rossellinis’ Doc On Film Icon’s Uneasy Family Legacy (EXCLUSIVE)

Tel Aviv-based sales agent Cinephil has taken international sales rights to high-concept doc “The Rossellinis,” which will provide a tongue-in-cheek autobiographical look at the descendants living around the world of iconic Italian director Roberto Rossellini’s extended family and is being directed by his grandson, Alessandro Rossellini.

“The Rossellinis,” which is being pitched at Rome’s MIA market, takes its cue from the uneasy legacy that the master auteur, who first galvanized global film buffs with “Rome Open City,” left on the progeny spawned by three wives — who include Ingrid Bergman of course — during the course of a glorious, albeit uneven, cinematic career that followed. Besides Ingrid Bergman, the other two women with whom Rossellini had kids were Italian production designer Marcella De Marchis and Indian screenwriter Sonali Das Gupta.

The extended Rossellini family includes Italians, Swedes, Afro-Americans, Indians, atheists, Catholics and Muslims.

“It’s a voyage of rediscovery of my family,” says the director, who was a 13-year-old when his grandfather — with whom he spent quite a lot of time — passed away in 1977 in Rome. Alessandro is now 55 and a recovering addict, contending “with an unclear, painful past.” This will become an integral part of the narrative of a piece being described in promotional materials as a documentary where “the truth and depth of the memoir meet the ironic tone of indie comedy.”

The voyage will be physical as well as metaphorical with the director filming a conversation with his father, director and producer Renzo Rossellini, and traveling from Rome to New York, where his aunt Isabella Rossellini lives; to Sweden where his uncle Robin Rossellini, who was once romantically linked with Princess Caroline of Monaco, has absconded on a small island; and the United Arab Emirates, where Alessandro will connect with his aunt Raffaella who has become a devout Muslim.

“It’s like a group therapy after all these years, to cure themselves, or at least come to terms, with this ‘Rossellini-itis’ that afflicted everyone and has some common symptoms: an unhealthy relationship with money; multiple weddings and multiple offspring; and a sense of failure that they all feel, including Isabella who is a star,” said producer Raffaele Brunetti.

“It’s not a biography of Roberto Rossellini… but we believe that seeing him through the prism of his extended family is the best way for him to be portrayed,” Brunetti added.

Materials will include exclusive footage of a family reunion planned for next Spring when all of Roberto Rossellini’s offspring will reunite in Rome for the first time since his funeral 40 years ago, as well as clips from a daily diary filmed in Super 8 by Ingrid Bergman, and a wealth of other filmic and archive materials.

Brunetti’s Rome-based B&B, which is co-producing with Latvia’s VFS films, is in talks with several broadcasters and other prospective co-producers. Sundance Productions co-founder Laura Michalchyshyn is on board as an executive producer.


Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Zombieland Double Tap

    'Zombieland: Double Tap' Hopes to Recapture Raunchy Zombie Magic, 10 Years Later

    Audiences may have a few questions about the sequel to 2009’s hit “Zombieland,” which opens Friday. Why did it take 10 years to make a second one, after the first grossed $102.4 million worldwide on a $23 million budget, making it the third-biggest zombie movie of all time (second-biggest if you don’t count “Hotel Transylvania,” [...]

  • AMC TheatresShop signs, Los Angeles, America

    AMC Theatres Accused of Firing VP Who Complained of Gender Pay Gap

    A former vice president at AMC Theatres filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday, accusing the company of firing her after she complained that she was paid far less than her male peers. Tonya Mangels, who was vice president of product marketing, said that in March 2018 her supervisor inadvertently sent her a spreadsheet that included [...]

  • Sir Elton John poses for photographers

    Elton John Calls 'Lion King' Remake a 'Huge Disappointment'

    Elton John isn’t feeling the love for Disney’s latest live-action remake. In an interview with GQ U.K., the legendary musician criticized Disney’s remake of “The Lion King,” citing the film’s music as a “huge disappointment.” “The new version of The Lion King was a huge disappointment to me, because I believe they messed the music [...]

  • Fiddlin'

    Film Review: 'Fiddlin''

    Not many forms of music have “old-” actually built into their name as a prefix. So it’s a given that the practitioners of the 200-year-old genre known as “old-time music” will wear their antiquity proudly in “Fiddlin’,” a documentary set in and around the 80th annual Old Fiddler’s Convention in Galax, Va. What may not [...]

  • Jonah Hill attends the press conference

    Jonah Hill Passes on Role in 'The Batman'

    After being offered a role in “The Batman,” Jonah Hill has moved on from the project. Why exactly Hill is passing is currently unknown, and insiders tell Variety that when the news was initially reported, it was very early in the negotiations and that a deal was far from closing. The news comes after Zoe [...]

  • Daniel Kaluuya Elizabeth Moss

    SCAD Savannah Film Festival Honorees Include Daniel Kaluuya, Elisabeth Moss

    Daniel Kaluuya, Elisabeth Moss, Danielle Macdonald, Aldis Hodge, Valerie Pachner, Samantha Morton, Sienna Miller, Alan Silvestri and Olivia Wilde are set to be honored at the 22nd Annual SCAD Savannah Film Festival. Breakout Award honorees include Beanie Feldstein, Kaitlyn Dever, Jharrel Jerome, Mena Massoud and Camila Morrone. Macdonald, who appears on Netflix in “Unbelievable” and [...]

  • Alexander Skarsgard, Nicole Kidman. Alexander Skarsgard,

    Nicole Kidman, Alexander Skarsgard to Reunite for Robert Eggers' 'The Northman'

    With his latest film “The Lighthouse” set to bow this weekend, Robert Eggers’ next film has cast two leads, “Big Little Lies” alums Nicole Kidman and Alexander Skarsgård. The pic, titled “The Northman,” is described as a Viking revenge saga set in Iceland at the turn of the 10th century. In talks to join Kidman [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content