Andrea De Liberato's Rome-based production outfit Poetiche Cinematografiche, which produced Venice 58 competition title Luna Rossa, has boarded director Bakhtiar Khudojnazarov's upcoming film, currently known as Gucci.

The Tajikistan filmmaker's new project, about three young street thugs who carry out robberies so that they can buy designer clothes, starts shooting later this month in Moscow and Yalta.

Budgeted at $2m, the film is being co-produced by Karl Baumgartner at Germany's Pandora Film, France's Paradis Film and Russian production outfit Central Partnership.

De Liberato's own distribution company, Sharada Distribuzione, is expected to handle the film's theatrical release in Italy.

Other projects for De Liberato include Claudio Caligari's Anni Rapaci, which is based on the true story of a gangster from the southern region of Calabria who lives in Milan and traces his criminal deeds from the 70s to the present day. The film is set to start shooting in January 2002.

De Liberato also announced that he is lining up a remake of the House Of Wax, the horror movie last released in 1953 with Vincent Price in the lead role. The new film, an Italo-Hungarian co-production that will be shot in English, will be directed by Italy's Sergio Stivalletti and will feature an internationally-known English-language actor.

Meanwhile, a French distributor is currently in talks to buy French rights to Luna Rossa, Antonio Capuano's visionary-style movie about a modern-day Neapolitan crime family. The film, which will compete for Venice's Golden Lion prize, features theatre actress Licia Maglietta, who recently won widespread acclaim for her leading role in Silvio Soldini's sleeper hit, Bread And Tulips.

The 58th Venice International Film Festival kicked off on August 29th with a screening of Dust, Macedonian director Milcho Manchevski's Balkan western which garnered a mixed critical response. The festival, which runs until September 8th, will unspool two competitions for the first time in its history: Venice 58, and the newly competitive Cinema of the Present section, whose line up of films will compete for a Lion of the Year award.