Italians unite for low-budget prod'n company

50 writers, actors, producers, directors team for 22Film

ROME -- Directors Marco Bellocchio, Francesco "Cito" Maselli, and Pasquale Scimeca are among nearly 50 Italy-based writers, actors, producers, and directors who have joined forces to create 22Film, a new production company that will set out to back small-budget and high-quality films.

The new company, which was created in opposition to the Silvio Berlusconi government's "vision" of the film industry and the country's cultural heritage, will seek to make 22 such films a year.

Berlusconi, a billionaire media tycoon, has been criticized for using his political power and influence in the media sector to change the kind of movies and television programs made in Italy.

In a statement, the company said it was a "collective response to the policies of the Berlusconi government against out cultural heritage, to continue to tell the true stories of our country, and the many faces of Italy that have never been seen."

The company said it would start work almost immediately.