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.