Brazil and Italy have signed an agreement in principle on film co-production.

Announced yesterday at the Rio International Film Festival, the deal between Istituto Luce and Cinecitta Holding from Italy and Ancine, the Brazilian National Cinema Agency, is designed to facilitate co-production of both features and documentaries.

The final document will be signed at the Rome Film Festival (Oct 18-27) and is expected to take effect in 2008, when Italian backers will finance three Brazilian projects.

According to Luciano Sovena, president of Istituto Luce and one of the members of the jury of this year's Rio festival, this treaty represents one of Italy's strategies to fight against Hollywood hegemony. The move follows a similar initiative signed between Italy and Argentina at Cannes this year.

There are strong cultural ties between the two nations and strong similarities in their cinema culture, typified by Brazil's Cinema Novo movement in the 1950s and 1960s and Italian neorealism (1943-1961). Both countries have developed several co-productions recently, including Marcos Jorge's Estomago, a distinctly different take on the human relationship with food, which had its world premiere at Rio last week.

Other co-productions include Aurelio Grimaldi's Anita Garibaldi, a portrait of the Brazilian wife of the Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi, which is in post-production; and Birdwatchers, a drama about the struggle of Kaiowas Indians in Northern Brazil against powerful landholders. Marco Bechis is currently shooting on location in Mato Grosso.