Confirming the renewed vitality of the Italian film industry, national film body Anica has reported that Italy almost doubled its spend on international co-productions in 1999 to $31m (L71bn) compared to $15.9m (L36bn) the previous year.

Total co-production costs, including foreign capital, rose to $96.9m (L219bn) from $41.7m (L94bn) in 1998. The amount spent on 100% Italian-funded films was down slightly to $138.9m (L313bn) against $139m (315bn) in 1998, although this was still a large increase on 1997, when $90.6m (L205bn) was spent on Italian films.

The number of films produced in Italy in 1999 rose to 108 titles, compared to 92 in 1998, of which 16 were international co-productions, compared to 13 in 1998.

Anica also announced that imports rose between October 31, 1999 and September 30, 2000 to 312 titles compared to 291 the previous year. Of the 312 foreign films, 178 (or 42%) came from the US, 104 (or 25%) from European Union countries and 30 (or 7%) from non-EU countries.

Commenting on the new figures, Rossana Rummo, head of the Cultural Ministry's entertainment department, said: "The increase in Italian film production, the rise of co-productions and greater overseas recognition for Italian films are an encouraging sign of the new vitality of our industry. We now need to work on reconstructing a relationship of trust between the public and Italian cinema, by encouraging the circulation of local films in Italy and in Europe."

Anica also found that the 108 films produced in Italy last year were made by 111 Italian production outfits, with international sales handled by 25 local sales companies and domestic distribution by 28 local distributors. Among the titles produced were Marco Tullio Giordana's The Hundred Steps, Pasquale Scimeca's Placido Rizzotto, Silvio Soldini's Bread And Tulips, Carlo Mazzacurati's Holy Tongue, Giuseppe Tornatore's Malena and Gabriele Salvatores' Denti.