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Italy’s Vivo Film to Produce Abel Ferrara’s ‘Siberia,’ Other New Films (EXCLUSIVE)

Vivo Film, Italian indie known for recent standout titles such as “Nico, 1988” and “Daughter of Mine,” has boarded Abel Ferrara’s long-gestating “Siberia” as its main producer.

The Rome-based shingle headed by Marta Donzelli and Gregorio Paonessa also has several pics by emerging Italian directors in the pipeline including “Dafne,” a drama centered around a young woman who suffers from Down syndrome which will start shooting in Tuscany in June.

Ferrara announced “Siberia” in Cannes three years ago calling it an exploration of the language of dreams and a vehicle for Willem Dafoe. It’s about the introspective voyage of a man who lives in an isolated cabin on a snow-capped mountain. Since then “Siberia” long languished, but Vivo Film has teamed up with German producer Philipp Kreuzer’s Maze Pictures to co-produce the pic and The Match Factory has taken world sales. They are also in talks with Sundance-winning Mexican screenwriter-producer Julio Chavezmontes (“Time-Share”) to come on board. The film has obtained funding from Italy’s Alto Adige IDM and Germany’s Bavarian Film Fund.

Meanwhile shooting is set to start in June on “Dafne,” to be directed by Italy’s Federico Bondi. It stars writer Carolina Raspanti, a young woman who has Down syndrome in real life and has published two autobiographical books, and actors Antonio Piovanelli (“1993”) and Stefania Casini. Casini starred in Dario Argento’s “Suspiria” and also worked with Bertolucci and Greenaway before veering off into directing. Rather than being about Down syndrome, the film is “really more about her single father’s worries of how he can provide for his daughter after he’s dead,” said Paonessa who added: “And instead it turns out that she will be the one to take care of him.” “Dafne” will be Bondi’s second feature after “Mar Nero” which was in competition in Locarno in 2008 where it won a prize.

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Also in the Vivo Film pipeline:

— Michela Occhipinti’s previously announced “Flesh Out” centered on a tradition in Mauritania and sub-Saharan Africa that sees some women submitting to an obligation to eat excessively in order to become more desirable, is now in final stages of shooting. Films Boutique has world sales. Vivo Film is co-producing “Flesh Out” with Antoine de Clermont-Tonnere’s Paris-based Mact Productions.

— Samuele Sestieri’s “Da un’altra parte” a film about the memory of disappeared people and the process of mourning. Sestieri previously co-directed with Olmo Amato “I Racconti Dell’Orso” an apocalyptic fable which launched in competition in Turin three years ago. Rai Cinema and Italy’s Culture Ministry are co-financing development.

– Susanna Nicchiarelli’s “Miss Marx,” the tale of Karl Marx’s youngest daughter, Eleanor, one the first women to approach the themes of feminism and socialism and who was swept up in a tragic love story. Nicchiarelli’s  biopic “Nico, 1988,” about the late German chanteuse who sang with the Velvet Underground, won for best film in the 2017 Venice Film Festival’s Horizons section and more recently scooped four prizes at Italy’s David Awards. Nicchiarelli is writing the screenplay. Rai Cinema is funding development.

— “Hogar” an Argentina/Italy co-production on which Vivo Film are minority co-producers, directed by Italian documaker Maura Delpero at her feature debut. The main producers on “Hogar” are Diego Lerman and Nicolas Avruj via their Campo Cine shingle. Italian producer Alessandro Amato is also on board through his Disparte. “Hogar” is about a young novice Italian nun played by Ukrainian actress Lidiya Libermann (“Blood of My Blood”) who travels to Buenos Aires to assist adolescent single moms in a Catholic center and is put in touch with her own desire for maternity. It’s currently shooting.

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