Franco Battiato, one of Italy's most celebrated singer-songwriters, has moved behind the camera to direct his first feature, Perduto Amor, which started shooting this week in Italy.

Produced and co-written by the cult Sicilian singer with his long-term collaborator, philosopher Manlio Sgalambro, the picture tells the coming-of-age story of a Sicilian boy from the mid-1950s to the end of the 1960s. Shooting is taking place in Milan and Ragusa, Sicily.

Battiato's company L'Ottava is producing the movie, which also received a government grant as a film of "national cultural interest."

Divided into three parts, the picture follows an eight-year-old aristocratic boy, Ettore, from the end of the San Remo Song Festival in 1955 through the economic boom that swept Italy in the 60s, until his move to Milan and his subsequent involvement in the music scene.

Perduto Amor stars Corrado Fortuna (My Name Is Tanino), and Donatella Finocchiaro, who played the lead in Roberta Torre's Mafia tale, Angela, which screened this year at Cannes in Directors' Fortnight. The film will also feature a host of cameos from Italian singers past and present.

Costume designer on the film is Gabriella Pescucci, whose lengthy credits include The Age Of Innocence, Once Upon A Time in America and The Name Of The Rose.

Since the 1970s, Battiato has been one of the pioneers of European avant-garde and experimental music. One of Italy's most popular indie artists, he also has a large fan base in Spain.