Kermit Smith, head of Italian distributor Key Films, is creating an artists' collective, called Happy Together, which plans to promote, produce and distribute independent Italian films.
"I would like it be a creative forum similar to Andy Warhol's Factory in the 1970s," Smith said, referring to the US artist's famed gathering of directors, producers, artists and designers. "After ten or twelve years working here, I just felt like getting really involved in Italian projects. It's a different sense of humour."
Smith will run the outfit with producers Daniele Maggioni, whose credits include recent Italian hit Bread And Tulips, and Angelo Curti (Il Verificatore).
The collective is already handling two projects: Paolo Sorrentino's L'Uomo In Piu, a Naples-based story about the parallel lives of a has-been singer and a football player, and Cesare Cicardini's Notturno Bus.
Key's own fledgling production arm is currently developing Mira Nair's Delhi.com with the Independent Feature Channel and Lasse Hallstrom's new project, Sebastian's Love. Delhi.com, about the culture clash between India's traditional older generation and new upwardly mobile dotcommers, is scheduled to start shooting in New Delhi in September. Sebastian's Love, about an overly protective mother and her son, has Lena Olin attached to play the lead and is expected to go into production within 12-18 months.
Key is at the Venice film festival with Lukas Moodysson's Together which it co-produced with Sweden's Memfis Film. The film, which is handled internationally by Trust Film Sales and has reportedly sparked interest from Belgian and German buyers, is screening out-of-competition in the Filmmakers of Today sidebar.