Italy's Giuseppe Tornatore to Direct Film for China's Alibaba Pictures

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Giuseppe Tornatore

The Oscar-winning director of "Cinema Paradiso" announced his partnership with Ja Ma's film studio on the first day of the Beijing International Film Festival.

Oscar-winning Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore has signed to direct a feature film for Alibaba Pictures Group, the fast-expanding moviemaking subsidiary of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.

The agreement was announced Sunday during the first day of the Beijing International Film Festival in the Chinese capital. At the tail end of a co-production seminar, Tornatore took the stage with Alibaba Pictures CEO Zhang Qiang to acknowledge the partnership in a symbolic signing ceremony. 

No additional details on the planned project were revealed.

Tornatore's most recent film, Correspondence, starring Jeremy Irons and Olga Kurylenko and with a score by Ennio Morricone, was released in January. He has made 14 films across his 30-year career and remains best known for Cinema Paradiso, which won the 1988 Academy Award for best foreign-language film. The new Alibaba-backed picture will be Tornatore's fist collaboration with a Chinese studio.

Launched in 2014, Alibaba Pictures Group has yet to release a movie of its own, but the upstart studio's slate has begun to take shape.

APG's first feature The Ferryman, directed by Zhang Jiajia and produced by Wong Kar-wai, will be released in the second half of this year. The company also has signed Chinese actress and filmmaker Vicki Zhao to direct an animated film adaptation of My Fair Princess, the hit period TV drama that launched her to stardom in the 1990s.

Earlier this month, APG announced a partnership with Skydance Media to co-finance and produce The Flying Tigers, a China-set WWII pic to be scripted by Braveheart writer Randall Wallace. APG previously took a 20 percent investment stake in Skydance and Paramount's Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation, which grossed $135.6 million of its $682.3 million worldwide haul in China.