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Italy’s Minerva Ups Sales With ‘Dogman’ Actor Marcello Fonte’s New Pic (EXCLUSIVE)

Italy’s Minerva Pictures is ramping up its sales side, having acquired international distribution rights to veteran auteur Gianni Amelio’s anticipated “Hammamet,” a biopic of disgraced late Italian prime minister Bettino Craxi. It’s also taken rights to period drama “Aspromonte,” starring Marcello Fonte, winner of last year’s Cannes best actor award for “Dogman.”

“Hammamet,” which portrays Craxi’s final years in the Tunisian seaside villa where he fled from Italian justice, stars Pierfrancesco Favino, who will be in Cannes as the lead actor of Marco Bellocchio’s competition title, “The Traitor.” Now shooting, “Hammamet” is produced by Pepito Prods. and RAI Cinema. Amelio’s previous features include “Lamerica”; “Stolen Children,” which took the Cannes Grand Prix; and “The Way We Laughed,” which won Venice’s Golden Lion.

“Aspromonte” is helmed by Mimmo Calopresti, whose first feature, “The Second Time,” competed in Cannes. Fonte stars as a poet in a small town in southern Italy where the locals are trying to wrest themselves from the mob’s clutches. Valeria Bruni Tedeschi plays a proto-feminist school teacher. Lucisano Media Group and RAI Cinema are producing.

“These and other acquisitions mark a strong growth for us with some major investments and a new team, all reflected in our Cannes lineup,” said Minerva chief Gianluca Curti, who added that his company is in advanced talks for an Italian partner to come on board that will provide fresh capital. The prospective partner’s name is being kept under wraps.

Also on the Minerva Pictures slate is upcoming thriller “Calibro 9,” described by Curti as “a freely inspired sequel” to cult director Fernando Di Leo’s 1972 “Milano Calibro 9,” of which Quentin Tarantino is known to be a big fan.

Set in present-day Milan, “Calibro 9” will topline Marco Bocci (“Crime Novel”) and Ksenia Rappoport (“The Unknown Woman”) and also feature Barbara Bouchet and Mario Adorf playing the same characters as in the original, albeit 47 years later. “These are two iconic roles I’m very proud of,” said Curti, who is producing with RAI Cinema and Belgium’s Gapbusters. Toni D’Angelo (“Falcons Special Squad”) directs, and shooting is set to start in June.

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