Monica Bellucci has been cast as feminist revolutionary Tina Modotti in a miniseries to be set in Mexico, Los Angeles and Italy and to be directed by prize-winning Italian director Edoardo de Angelis (“Indivisible”).
The role is one that Bellucci has wanted to play for years. Modotti was an Italian who emigrated to the U.S. in 1913, acted briefly in Hollywood silent films, then became known during the 1930s in Europe and Mexico for both her photography and her left-wing revolutionary fervor. She joined a group of major contemporary artists in Mexico and is considered a proto-feminist who advocated new freedoms for women in the early 20th century.
The six-part series, which is in advanced development, is titled “Radical Eye: The Life and Times of Tina Modotti.“ It is being produced by London-based husband-and-wife team Paula Vaccaro and Aaron Brookner (“Uncle Howard”), who have written the screenplay. They will produce via their Pinball London company. Spanish producer Elena Manrique is also on board as well as Mexico’s AG Studios, founded by Alex Garcia, who will executive produce.
The show’s main languages will be English and Spanish, with some Italian dialogue as well.
The “Modotti” project will be making its market debut in September at New York’s Independent Filmmaker Project Forum co-production market. Variety has been given an exclusive image of Bellucci as Modotti.
Vaccaro said that, though there have been several attempts in the past to make a movie about Modotti – including a project Madonna was attached to – none came to fruition. Modotti does appear as character in Julie Taymor’s “Frida.”
“This is because her life is so intense and so varied,” Vaccaro said of Modotti, “which is why long-form series is the congenial narrative format” to tell her story.
Vaccaro, who helped produce Emir Kusturica’s “On the Milky Road,” in which Bellucci stars, said the collaboration on “Modotti” was born of the actress’ passion for the role. “When we finished ‘Milky Road,’ I said to her: ‘What would you really like to do next?'” Vaccaro recalled. “We were in her house, and she came back with a Tina Modotti book. ’This is the role I would really like to do….It’s the role I have my heart set on.'”
Vaccaro said Bellucci had envisioned Modotti’s life being turned into a movie, not a miniseries, but has since been persuaded that long-form narrative would better suit the story.
Although Bellucci has appeared in several series, most notably “Mozart in the Jungle,” this would mark the first time that she played the lead in a skein for the international market.
“Modotti” would also mark the first series produced by Pinball London, an indie outfit which will soon be opening an outpost in Spain “as a Brexit backup plan,” and also to try to take advantage of Netflix opening a European production hub there, Vaccaro said.
Vaccaro said the choice of De Angelis as director stemmed from the two of them having worked together on his debut feature, “Mozzarella Stories.” De Angelis made an international splash with “Indivisible,” about Neapolitan teenage conjoined-twin sisters with beautiful voices, which launched in 2016 from the Venice.
“Monica is well-known around the world, including China and Russia,” Vaccaro said. “With Monica, the writing team we have, plus Edoardo, I think we have a premium project that can reach far and wide.”