Genre filmmaking currently seems to be getting more traction within projects in the Italian cinema pipeline, be it dark fables, a Cosa Nostra thriller with a fresh angle, a Rome origins epic in pre-Roman Latin, or other types. Below is a compendium of standout titles in various stages, some of which may surface on the 2019 festival circuit.
“Pinocchio” — Matteo Garrone, who previously ventured into the world of fable with Salma Hayek-starrer “Tale of Tales,” is currently shooting a live action version of Carlo Collodi’s classic about a puppet that comes to life in which Roberto Benigni is playing Geppetto. Garrone’s $20 million Italian-language pic, which producer Jeremy Thomas has called “a horror story for kids” and “a representation of the original book,” rather than its animated popularization, is a co-production between Italy and France, produced by Garrone’s Archimede Films, Rai Cinema and Jean Labadie’s Le Pacte, with Thomas’ Recorded Picture Company. HanWay Films is handling international sales.
“Three Floors Up” —Nanni Moretti will soon be shooting this ensemble drama which is an adaptation of Israeli author Eshkol Nevo’s novel “Thee Floors Up,” set in a Tel Aviv building in which the residents’ lives, their secrets, inner turmoils, and interpersonal dynamics provide a prism to view that society’s crisis. Moretti is transposing the book to an Italian setting. The cast comprises Margherita Buy, who starred in Moretti’s “My Mother,” Riccardo Scamarcio (“Loro”), and Adriano Giannini. Domenico Procacci’s Fandango is producing with RAI Cinema.
“The Traitor” — Marco Bellocchio is in post on this biopic of Tommaso Buscetta, the first high-ranking member of Cosa Nostra to break the Sicilian Mafia’s oath of silence. Italian A-lister Pierfrancesco Favino is Buscetta, while Brazilian actress and model Maria Fernanda Candido plays the female lead, his third wife Maria Cristina de Almeida Guimaraes, the daughter of an upper crust Brazilian lawyer who played an important part in Buscetta’s decision in 1984 to start cooperating with Italian and subsequently American prosecutors. Italy’s IBC Movie, Kavac Film and RAI Cinema; France’s Ad Vitam, Arte France Cinema and Canal Plus; Brazil’s Gullane; and Germany’s The Match Factory, which is also handling international sales, are co-producing.
“Freaks Out” — this new genre-bender by Gabriele Mainetti, whose hit offbeat 2016 superhero pic “They Call Me Jeeg” made Mainetti the poster boy for Italian cinema’s new course, is set in 1943 Rome. Four “freaks” who work in a circus are left to their own devices when the Eternal City is bombed by Allied Forces. Just like “Jeeg” it will incorporate a theme of sexual abuse and feature a strong, fiercely independent female character. In post. Produced by Lucky Red, Goon Films, RAI Cinema, GapBusters, and sold by RAI Com.
“The Book of Vision” — “Game of Thrones” star Charles Dance, Dutch actress Lotte Verbeek, and rising Swedish actor Sverrir Gudnadson topline this English-language fantasy/mystery directed by Carlo Hintermann and executive produced by Terrence Malick. This time-shifting tale about a young Italian doctor named Eva who, while studying the history of medicine at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, discovers an 18th-century text about a Prussian doctor that hides a mystery is a three-way co-production between Italy’s Rai Cinema, Belgium’s Entre Chien et Loup, and Luminous Arts in the U.K.
“The First King” — Young director Matteo Rovere’s bold epic depicting the mythical tale of the founding of Rome in the 8th century B.C. by twins Romulus and Remus with a realism that includes lots of savage violence and dialogue spoken in pre-Latin dialect is making a splash in Italy. Rovere’s own Groenlandia shingle co-produced with RAI Cinema and Belgium’s GapBusters. France’s Indie Sales will be launching sales in Berlin.