Treaties: Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Macedonia, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, U.K., U.S., Uruguay, Venezuela
Recent projects: "Birdwatchers" (Italy-Brazil), "Machan: The True Story of a Fake Team" (Germany-Italy-Sri Lanka), "Pa-ra-da" (France-Italy-Romania)

International co-productions have had a long but uneven history in Italy, falling in and out of favor depending on the filmmaking style of the day. The oldest agreements in Italy date to the 1950s, and after a period of relative inactivity in the 1990s they are again becoming popular.

In Italy, these deals are negotiated at the governmental level and often packaged along with wider-ranging trade agreements.

"I think people see these agreements as important because they can help share costs while also helping to promote culture," says Francesco Ventura, and official with the film division of Italy's Ministry of Culture, which negotiates the terms of co-production accords. "We are very proud of the strong agreements we have."

The latest deal was signed in October with Cuba, followed almost immediately by an announcement from Medusa -- the film production and distribution giant controlled by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi -- to shoot a Paolo Virzi comedy about sex tourism on the Caribbean island.

Medusa president Carlo Rossella says the Cuba deal is a perfect example of an international co-production agreement that serves as a win-win for both sides: "With this deal, Cuba gets greater access to Europe, and Italy gets access to beautiful and low-cost settings for films."

-- Eric J. Lyman

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