In the wake of Pope JohnPaul II's death, Rai Trade, the sales arm of Italianpublic broadcaster RAI, has witnessed a flurry of demand for its latestdocumentaries on the pontiff and extensive stock footage.

Vatican expert FabioZavattaro's A Quarter of a Century With Pope John Paul II, which focuses on the Pope's humanity, has been soldto RTL in Germany and France 2. Home video rights have been sold to Portugaland Poland.

Stefano Rizzelli's TheStubborness of God, which takes alook at the political aspects of John Paul II's papacy, has recently been soldto Spain and Latin America. Sales have also been made to France, Hungary,Spain, and Korea.

Both documentaries have alsofound buyers in Portugal, Romania, Germany, Greece, the Czech Republic, Poland,Taiwan and Latin America.

Rai Trade has also justcompleted a third documentary on the Pope, directed by Sandro Lai, whichcontains footage from Karol Wojtyla's funeral.

At MIP-TV, Rai Trade is alsoselling stock footage of exclusive interviews with the 120 Cardinals, one ofwhom will be elected as the next Pope in this month's conclave. Overall, RaiTrade holds the rights to over 300 hours of footage on the Pope and theVatican.

"We have got a hugecatalogue of images on the Pope," says Nicola Cona, Rai Trade's newlyappointed CEO. "The interest that has developed around John Paul II iscompletely natural. He was a man of enormous depth who used communication asone of his main strengths. We tell his story through the most evocative imagesof the last half century, and thanks to the high quality of our product, we areable to enter markets across the world."

Cona said that RAI Trade'snew strategy will see the company focus increasingly on documentaries. TheRome-based seller's catalogue includes a popular collection of films on Italiandirectors and actors, such as Sophia Loren (Searching for Sophia), Roberto Benigni, Claudia Cardinale, Sergio Leoneand Federico Fellini.

Rai Trade recently sold Searchingfor Sophia, which was co-producedwith ZDF/Arte' and the Netherlands' Avro, to Latin America, Australia, Swedenand Romania.

Meanwhile, Cona said thatRai Trade is looking to boost its international presence by focusingincreasingly on co-productions, in particular for documentaries, and genre TVmovies and series.

Rai Trade is currentlydeveloping a series of English-language thrillers for the Italian andinternational market that will be shot in the US. An upcoming American directoris expected to be attached to the project.

Rai Trade has also recentlyalso signed a deal with Grupo Europroducciones, which will see the Italianbranch of the Spanish broadcaster provide programming ranging from publicservice content, to weekly TV series and cultural events. The deal could alsosee Europroducciones develop theme channels for Rai.