Italian production outfit Fabrica Cinema, currently funded by clothing retailer Benetton, plans to relaunch next spring as a financially autonomous, market-oriented company under the banner Fabrica Cinema e Televisione.

Fabrica head Marco Mueller said he is currently seeking investors that will include a banking partner, as well as Italian and European television partners.

"We have also decided to associate ourselves with a distributor, and to be present on the local and international distribution front," Mueller said. The company plans to establish an international sales and marketing division to work with the companies that acquire its product, such as France's Celluloid Dreams and StudioCanal's classics division, Wild Bunch.

The newly-restructured company, located on extensive modern premises in the northern Italian countryside near Treviso, will be officially launched at the Berlin Film Festival. Mueller said the outfit would concentrate on producing digital feature-length TV drama and documentaries that will also be considered for theatrical release, and will continue to focus on new film-making talent in Asia, South America and Africa. The company will also handle films from well-established and high-profile directors, such as Marco Bellocchio and Abbas Kiarostami.

"By using immediately recognisable names we also hope to attract more attention to lesser known talent," Mueller said. "What I want is to set up a kind of permanent year-round festival, while also using big festivals such as Cannes, Toronto and Venice as a launching pad for our films."

Projects on Fabrica's slate include Lais Bodanzky's Bicho De 7 Cabecas, a Brazilian film based on the true story of a young boy whose father locks him away in a mental institution; Danis Tanovic's No Man's Land, about Bosnian and Serb fighting; and Oakland Is Not For Burning by Gianfranco Rosi, which is set in Death Valley.

Mueller, who resigned from his position as director of the Locarno Film Festival last summer, said Fabrica will also establish an internet portal and market to help sell its titles. The new project will officially kick off at the Cannes Film Market in 2001.