French directors Claude Lelouch, Costa-Gavras, Michel Hazanavicius, Cédric Klapisch and Coline Serreau have been the first signatories of a petition launched in France in favor of protecting the legendary Cinecitta film studios in Rome, which is being zeroed in on by real estate developers.
After an online drive was launched by a French trade association for producers and filmmakers, directors like Radu Mihaileanu, Jean-Jacques Beineix, Abderrahmane Sissako and the Haitian Raoul Peck lent their support and added their John Hancock. This petition is the latest evolution of a year-plus-long protest movement begun after official funding for the studio was slashed following new austerity measures adopted by Italy.
Find this petition (in French) here.
“Alerted by their colleague Ettore Scola, European filmmakers have been shocked to find that the Cinecitta studios, mecca of the world’s cinematographic heritage, is in jeopardy because of real estate development projects, and shamefully treated with as little regard as a park or a supermarket,” says the petition, which is open to all film lovers.
Cinecitta, which sits on a 100-acre lot, was first built by Mussolini, who understood the power of film for spreading propaganda.
However, with productions heading east to cheaper locations such as Hungary the studio where the classics “Ben-Hur” and “Roman Holiday” (and more recently “Gangs of New York”) were shot has seen its earnings shrink.
In their open letter the petitioners asked, is it urgent to destroy this place, indistinguishable from the legacy of Fellini, Visconti, Comencini and Lattuada, among others, in order to build a fitness center? Would you want to lose weight at the expense of heritage and culture? Even under Berlusconi they would not dare do this! The organization backing this effort called on Europe’s government “to protect and classify this historical monument of culture.”
Last week, dozens of Cinecitta employees went on strike to defend the threatened dismantlement of the site.