FNE in Venice: Romanian Film Francesca Threatened With Ban

By Anna Franklin
    VENICE: Venice Orizzonti opening film Francesca has had two of its public screenings pulled after Italian right wing politician Alessandra Mussolini took legal action to stop the screenings.

    Francesca directed by Romanian director Bobby Paunescu and produced by Mandragora Movies (www.mandragora.ro) has been picked up for distribution in Italy by Fandango and is slated for theatrical distribution in October following its world premier in Venice.

    Domenico Procacci who heads Fandango said that the two public screenings of the film had been pulled but that the October release was still planned to go ahead although Mussolini has threatened legal action to block the film unless cuts are made. Francesca deals with immigration and follows the difficulties faced by its heroine Francesca as she prepares to leave her native Romania for a job in Italy. As Francesca discusses her impending immigration friends and relatives caution her against the move.

    At one point the film refers to a "bitch that wants to kill Romanians" which is understood to refer to Mussolini, who is the granddaughter of Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, and Verona mayor Flavio Tosi is targeted as a "shitty mayor." Mussolini wants the phrases cut from the film or she threatens to stop the film's release in Italy. Mussolini has been highly critical of Romanian immigrants.

    Paunescu has himself lived in Italy as well as his native Romania and he said that the film was meant to open a debate on the issue. He said he would not cut anything from the film and that the dialogue in the film was based on public statements that the two politicians have made in the past.

    Francesca is already slated to be screened in festivals in Pusan and Iceland. See www.filmneweurope.com for an exclusive interview with Paunescu published earlier this week.