Italian auteur Marco Bellocchio, recently the big winner at Italy’s David di Donatello awards with elegant mob drama “The Traitor,” is busy with a trio of projects involving personal and also national history, all shepherded by his now regular producer Simone Gattoni.
Gattoni, partner with Bellocchio in Rome’s Kavac Film, and among Variety’s 10 Producers to Watch last year, is riding high after the Davids — “The Traitor” having won six statuettes including best picture and director — and ramping up a robust slate of film and TV projects in various stages, to be directed by a mix of veteran names such as Bellocchio and Gianni Amelio (“Open Doors”), as well as younger, emerging Italian helmers. Most of these projects are being mounted by Kavac in tandem with other prominent Italian and European producers.
The most advanced project on the Kavac slate is Bellocchio’s “L’Urlo” (“The Scream”), a very personal documentary centered around the suicide of the director’s brother, Camillo Bellocchio, in 1968.
“It’s like a cold case,” says Gattoni, describing a reconstruction many years later of the circumstances that led to the tragic act, and also “Marco’s inquiry into himself” due to the “very deep ties” between the twins.
“The Scream” features some voice-over narration from Marco Bellocchio and lots of archive material including Super 8 footage of Camillo Bellocchio shot during a holiday and on other occasions by his best friend. There are also clips from several Bellocchio feature films that dealt with the subject of suicide, such as “Salto New Vuoto” (“A Leap into the Void”) (1980), starring France’s late great Michel Piccoli, and “Gli Occhi, La Bocca” (1982), also featuring Piccoli. The doc is now in post, meaning it could surface at Venice in September.
Bellocchio is also in prep on the previously announced limited TV series “Exterior, Night,” about the 1978 kidnapping and assassination of former Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro by Red Brigades terrorists, co-produced by Kavac and Fremantle unit The Apartment with Rai Cinema on board. The series will look at the tragic Moro affair from multiple perspectives, excluding those of any Red Brigades terrorists.
Casting on “Exterior, Night” was supposed to start in March but was put on hold by the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile Gattoni and producer Beppe Caschetto, who led production on “The Traitor,” which was released stateside by Sony, are developing Bellocchio’s next feature, a drama for the international market depicting “an important piece of 19th century Italian history,” details of which are being kept under wraps.
In the course of producing “The Traitor,” a biopic of the first high-ranking member of the Sicilian Mafia — known as Cosa Nostra — to break the group’s oath of silence, Gattoni learned a lot about Cosa Nostra. He realized that “there are plenty of documentaries about the Mafia, but none that trace its history from the origins to the present day,” he says.
So Kavac is developing “Cosa Nostra,” a 10-episode documentary series for which Gattoni has enlisted veteran Sicilian journalist Francesco La Licata. The high-end Mafia doc is now being shopped to streamers.
Other projects in the Kavac pipeline:
– Next Gianni Amelio feature. Amelio is known internationally for titles such Oscar-nominated “Open Doors” (1990) and “Stolen Children,” which won the 1992 Cannes Grand Prix. Though he’s since veered a bit off the radar internationally, Amelio last year struck box office gold at home with “Hammamet,” a portrait of disgraced late Italian Prime Minister Bettino Craxi’s final years in Tunisia that grossed over €5 million ($5.5 million) domestically. With Amelio’s still undecided next project, Gattoni will strive for the esteemed helmer’s return to “greater international scope,” he said.
– “Pantera.” A coming-of-age drama set in Sardinia against the backdrop of a tribal carnival ritual. Directed by second-timer Adriano Valerio, whose “Banat” (“Il Viaggio”) was in the 2015 Venice Critics’ Week, this pic has two Sardinian teens as protags who are Romeo and Juliet-like lovers, but also involves “panthers and dead bodies,” says Gattoni. He plans to start shooting later this year.
– “Milosh.” First-timer Nicola Sorcinelli, whose shorts have won several prizes, including a David, is set to shoot this drama about “violence towards women.” It’s “a love story that turns into a nightmare,” says Gattoni. Talks are underway for Kasia Smutniak (“Perfect Strangers,” “Devils”) to play the lead, according to sources.
– “Attenti Al Lupo” (“Beware of the Wolf”) Carmine Amoroso, whose feature “Cover Boy…The Last Revolution” and doc “Porn to be Free” both travelled internationally, is now in development on this drama about the persecution of gay men during Fascism, which for the first time reconstructs cases of their confinement in prison camps.
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