Berlusconi sells “Hollywood on Tiber”

    Filming on the TV series Rome at the famous Cinecitta studios

    It was founded by Benito Mussolini to promote Italian culture and over the years has played host to Ben Hur, Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York and many of Federico Fellini’s best-known films. Now Rome’s famous Cinecitta studios is to enter a new era after the Italian government confirmed it is to sell its final stake in the complex, meaning it will be entirely under private control for the first time.

    Cinecitta was set up by the Italian dictator in 1937 and was bombed by the allies during the second world war. Its 22 soundstages, including the legendary Studio 5 where Fellini worked, cover more than 2.1m square feet.

    In the 1950s Cinecitta was briefly nicknamed “Hollywood on Tiber” after playing host to a number of large-scale US productions, including Ben Hur and Quo Vadis. More recent productions include Spike Lee’s Miracle at St Anna and Abel Ferrara’s Go Go Tales.

    The privatisation process began in the 1980s after the studios came close to bankruptcy, but Silvio Berlusconi’s government is now selling off its final 24% stake – with offers from outside Italy welcome – in a move which does not come as a surprise. Berlusconi’s administration has taken a rather dim view of film-oriented spending since returning to power in May. The Rome film festival, which was founded only in 2006, has been threatened with budget cuts by the Berlusconi-backed Gianni Alemanno, the city’s new mayor and former neo-fascist youth leader. His campaign’s print ads carried the slogan, “Alemanno, for less cinema and more security” – a reference to his central plank of fighting illegal immigration and cutting down the festival’s costs.

    source: The Guardian


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