Cinecitta unveils new awards

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ROME -- Cinecitta on Thursday announced a variety of measures aimed at improving what it says is a troubled financial situation and took the wraps off new initiatives designed to attract attention as it prepares to celebrate its 70th anniversary.

At a media briefing on its back lot, the studio announced plans to introduce a new set of film awards for behind-the-scenes film personnel and Cineciitta's production company Instituto Luce said it was changing its focus to works from young directors.

The announcements came as the studio said it has only about €500,000 ($680,000) in cash, even though revenue last year rose to €42 million ($57.1 million) from €38 million a year earlier. Cinecitta also said it will sell its debt-ridden multiplex unit and actively shop rights to its vast film archive at such markets as the AFM, Cannes and RomeCineFest.

Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli said at the press briefing that the government will do its part to help Italian cinema but not try to influence what it produced, and he vowed to push through a new tax-break reform by the end of the summer.

The new awards -- called the "Cinecitta Prize" will be awarded in six categories -- best costumes, sets, special effects, makeup, production organizer and technicians -- from Italian films released each year. The award will be presented at the Venice International Film Festival.

Institute Luce, meanwhile, said it is switching its focus from working with established directors to those working on their first or second full-length film. Though not limited to Italian directors, its primary focus will be on native talent, officials said.

The studio also announced a series of events to take place to commemorate the 70th anniversary of its 1937 founding by Benito Mussolini.
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