Famous friends lend weight to FilmItalia plea

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ROME -- FilmItalia took its case to the public Monday, publishing an open letter decrying plans to fold the organization into Cinecitta Holding.

Signatures from more than 40 leading figures from the Italian film industry appear at the end of the open letter, which was published in several leading Italian media outlets and calls plans for the merger "a grave risk for our cinema industry."

Though both FilmItalia, the nation's international film promotion board, and Cinecitta Holding, the holding company that controls the storied Cinecitta Studios in Rome, are partially funded by the state, they are currently autonomous bodies. FilmItalia's main opposition to the move -- aimed at cutting costs and streamlining the government's support of the film industry -- is that making FilmItalia part of a large bureaucracy would make it less nimble.

Former Locarno Film Festival director Irene Bignardi heads FilmItalia, which spearheads efforts to promote the Italian film industry beyond the country's borders.

Among the signatories of the letter are film directors Marco Bellocchio, Daniele Luchetti, Nanni Moretti, Gabrielle Muccino, Ferzan Ozpetek, Ettore Scola, Paolo Sorrentino, and Paolo and Vittorio Taviani.

Cinecitta Holding's board is to decide the fate of FilmItalia next Monday.
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