The National Association of Filmmakers (ANAC) has appealed to Italy's premier Mario Monti and president Giorgio Napolitano to help Rome's Cinecittà film studios to continue being a reference point for international cinema and prevent them from being "cemented over" as part of a proposed business plan.
The association described Cinecittà and its technicians as world-class, and railed against plans it claims would dismantle the studios' film-making activities to make way for hotels and health centres. Among the well-known signatories were Italian directors Giuseppe Tornatore, Gianni Amelio and Bernardo Bertolucci, as well as director Ken Loach and actress Vanessa Redgrave from England.
Their appeal follows a five-day strike by employees over the business plan which trade unions say would see much of the studios' traditional work outsourced. The proposed reorganisation would see the studios split into various affiliated production and post-production companies, including Deluxe Italia which formed a "strategic alliance" with Cinecittà in May 2004. The package entails a number of redundancies and uncertainty over numerous jobs according to union leaders who say they were never consulted.
Spread out over 40 hectares, the studios were established in 1937 by Benito Mussolini, originally for propaganda purposes, and were later used in the production of such classics as La Dolce Vita and Cleopatra and more recently Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York. Since its heyday in the 1960s Cinecittà has struggled to attract a continuous flow of work, particularly in the face of cheaper film production costs in eastern Europe.
The current strike action at Cinecittà, scheduled to finish on 11 July, comes after the new artistic director of the Rome International Film Festival, Marco Müller, announced that this year's festival would have a strong emphasis on Italian cinema.