Italy's AMBI Pictures Moves Into Animation With 'East End'

The animated family feature focuses on two very different boys growing up in Rome's East End.

Fast-growing Italian film group AMBI Pictures has announced its first animated film project, the family-friendly feature East End.

The film, which AMBI will finance and produce, comes from a trio of writers -- Federico Moccia, Giuseppe Squillaci and Luca Scanferla -- who will also co-direct. AMBI Pictures heads Andrea Iervolino and Monika Bacardi will produce.

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East End follows two very different 8-year-old best friends: thoughtful nice boy Leo and wild child Lex, both growing up and getting into adventures in Rome's East End neighborhood.

Moccia is the author of Three Steps Over Heaven, which was made into a film in 2004. Squillaci and Scanferla are visual effects specialists.

“With the worldwide appetite for animated family entertainment continuing to grow, we feel it’s important for AMBI Pictures to establish a footprint in this market and deliver the most intelligent, cutting-edge and commercially viable animated family films in the marketplace,” said Iervolino. “Working with Federico, Giuseppe and Luca puts us right on that path.”

AMBI Pictures has been growing quickly since its launch late last year, with plans to produce eight feature films in 2014, including the action-thriller Sights of Death, starring Danny Glover, Daryl Hannah and Michael Madsen; the Barry Levinson-directed Phillip Roth adaptation The Humbling with Al Pacino, Mandy Patinkin, and Kyra Sedgwick; and crime thriller Hope Lost, starring Madsen, Danny Trejo and Mischa Barton.

Headed by Iervolino and Bacardi, the widow of Italian drinks magnate Lord Luis Bacardi, AMBI also has its own international sales arm, based in Beverly Hills.