Italy's 79-year-old state-owned Istituto Luce has decided to re-focus on its original role as Italy's leading maker of documentaries.

"We want to revitalise our role as a documentary-maker and give it new impetus. We will no longer just make "montage" documentaries, but will produce new ones too," said Istituto Luce president Andrea Piersanti, who took up the position earlier this year.

He added: "We want to turn Istituto Luce once again into a factory of Italian documentaries."

As part of its new drive, the organisation would like to establish Italy's first history channel, which could air on Sky Italia, Piersanti said, referring to Rupert Murdoch's ambition to create a new single pay-TV platform that will launch in 2003 - if Italian antitrust authorities' approve News Corp's bid to buy Telepiu from Vivendi Universal.

Istituto Luce currently has three new documentaries in the pipeline: a film on Rome's artistic heritage, that is being directed by revered Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni; a big-budget film on Italian marble, directed by Fulco Quilici; and a series of documentaries on Catholicism.

All three documentaries, as well as an autobiographical documentary by Antonioni will be completed by the end of 2003 and will be distributed on DVD.

The veteran producer and distributor is also preparing a pilot for a series of 30-minute documentaries on the "best of Italian cinema," from the 1940s to the present day.

The documentaries will feature interviews with leading Italian personalities of the 20th century, such as seven-time prime minister Giulio Andreotti, Piersanti said. "We hope to obtain the collaboration of the owners of rights to past Italian films," he added.

Luce, which is revamping its image with a brand new logo, hopes that it will soon be able to stream its documentaries on new-generation mobile phones.

Managed by state company Cinecitta Holding, Istituto Luce was founded by Benito Mussolini in 1924. It owns the country's most extensive archive of Italian documentaries, which are now available on the company's new web site,

The company is also active as an exhibitor and as a theatrical distributor. Upcoming theatrical releases include Theo Angelopoulos's The Weeping Field, and Wong Kar-Wai's 2046.