Italian networks nix Prodi victory docu

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ROME -- Italian television networks have turned their backs on "Lo Sfidante" (The Challenger), a documentary about the 2006 electoral victory of Romano Prodi over then-incumbent and billionaire media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi.

Unable to reach a deal to have the film shown on Italian television networks, German director Sebastian Kruger and the film's producers have opted for a direct distribution model, selling DVDs directly to the public from a Web site unveiled Wednesday (June 6).

The documentary -- which gives an unflattering view of Italy's electoral system -- has had success elsewhere in Europe, screening earlier in the year to strong reviews in Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

A spokesman for Italian state broadcaster RAI declined comment about the broadcaster's decision not to air the program. Officials from the Berlusconi-controlled Mediaset networks did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

If it had aired, it would not have been the first political story on Italian airwaves in recent months.

"Il Caimano" (The Cayman), a film from award-winning director Nanni Moretti that tells a fictional story overtly critical of Berlusconi, screened last year in Italy to critical acclaim and moderate commercial success. And "Shooting Silvio," a fictional story about a disenfranchised youth who fantasizes about killing the then-prime minister, is enjoying success in independent distribution in Italy.
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