Italian producer Giorgio Prandoni is hoping that Johan Padan, the closing night film at the Venice festival, will mark the start of a new force in European animation.

His company Green Movie Group fully financed the $7.5m film which tells the story of the discovery of America by a real-life 16th century Italian adventurer, and is adapted from a musical stageplay by Italian comedy legend Dario Fo.

Green Movie, a Milan-based animation house has to date chiefly been involved in commercials and TV productions, delivered the animation, and also produced the music in-house. "This really is our calling card," said Prandoni. "We were prepared to carry all the investment costs ourselves as we really wanted to control all the elements."

The film has been sold to RAI for TV broadcast and to Mikado which will give it a theatrical outing in Italy on Oct 12 (Columbus Day). Prandoni is now seeking to engage an international sales agent that will be able to make a commercial sales pitch outside Italy by Mifed. "Here in Italy this film is a major event, but we know that it is difficult to sell European animation to the US. However I am very confident we will," said Prandoni. "We fully believe that here in Europe we are capable of delivering Disney quality animation at better prices."

"The next step will be to take our next projects to sales companies and distributors earlier in the production cycle, not only to bring in finance, but also to ensure that we can work in distributor and marketing feedback," said Prandoni. Green Movie is developing nearly ten projects, most drawn from established literary properties. "We have the ideas. And now is the moment to collaborate with other studios." He is already in talks with possible co-production studios in Spain and Germany.