Italian panel to weigh controversial films

'Wise men' will decide whether pics receive funds

LOCARNO, Switzerland -- Italian Minister of Culture Sandro Bondi said Wednesday that he would appoint a special panel of what he called "wise men" to help determine whether future films on controversial subjects should receive state funding.

The decision was sparked in part by the controversial documentary "Il sol del'avvenire" (Red Sun), which screened in a sidebar at the 61st Locarno Film Festival.

The 78-minute production, made in part with state funding, recounts the formation of Italy's brutal Red Brigade Marxist-Leninist extremist movement that resulted in hundreds of deaths in the 1970s and early '80s.

Bondi sparked controversy by saying the film should have never received state money and that future films on similar subjects would be denied funding. He said the film was "offensive" to families who lost loved ones to the Red Brigades' movement.

Although Wednesday's comments were short on details -- the minister did not say how the "wise men" would be selected, or the exact role they would play -- the move was clearly made to placate both sides of the debate by backing away from an outright prohibition on state funding for films that touch on Italy's violent past.