Lorber nabs rights to Berlusconi doc

'Videocracy' exposes Italian prime minister's media culture

Lorber Films, the theatrical releasing arm of the newly formed Kino Lorber, has picked up U.S. rights to "Videocracy," an expose of the high-glitz, low-politics media culture epitomized by Italian Prime Minister and media mogul Silvio Berlusconi.

The deal was negotiated by Susan Wendt, head of sales at TrustNordisk Films, with Richard Lorber, co-president of Kino Lorber. No financial details were made available.

Swedish-Italian director Erik Gandini, whose credits include "Gitmo: The New Rules of War," helmed the doc feature.

Lorber called the pic "more fantastical than any fiction film I've seen in a long while. As a saga of greed, decadence and privilege that's transforming a democracy into a media circus, it's both a cautionary tale and outrageous cinema entertainment."

The film was released theatrically in Italy on 90 prints by Fandango and grossed about $1.2 million. The DVD is now out, with distribution in bookstores and on newsstands. It also is being released in several other European territories including the U.K. and France and has TV deals in several others.

The doc gained notoriety in Italy even before its release. In August, pubcaster RAI and Mediaset -- the former station controlled by Berlusconi, the latter owned by him -- declined to broadcast the trailer just before its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, calling it "offensive to the honor and personal reputation of the prime minister."

With the recent assault on Berlusconi in Milan and the crackdown on social networking sites that authorities claim "instigate" violence against him, the pic captures "a bizarre moment in Italian history," Lorber added.

"Videocracy" will open Feb. 12 at the IFC Center in New York, followed by a theatrical release across the U.S. The release will be supported by High Five, a new funding program of Nordisk. Lorber said he expects to extend the release stateside to as many as 30 local markets, depending on reviews and boxoffice.

Lorber Films specializes in international films, classics and doc features. Kino Lorber combines the resources, staffs and libraries of Lorber HT Digital and Kino International, bringing together the distribution entities controlled by Donald Krim and Lorber.