Miramax Films has closed two separate multi-picture deals with Italian directors Gabriele Muccino and Davide Ferrario to develop and direct both English and Italian language productions.

First picture to go under Muccino's deal will be Miramax's remake of Cedric Klapisch's Paris-set, French-language breakthrough hit, Chacun Cherche Son Chat (When The Cat's Away) The Miramax version will be set in New York and English language.

Miramax bought the remake rights to the film in 1999 from Vertigo Productions after Miramax Italy head Francisco Lombardo brought it to the attention of Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein. Sony Pictures Classics handled the US release of the original, a French and international hit in 1996.

Brad Anderson (Next Stop Wonderland) was signed to direct the remake - Anderson co-wrote the adaptation with Lyn Vaus but then dropped out. The script is being re-written at present by Tod "Kip" Williams. Heather Graham was originally attached to star.

Amy Slotnick, vice president of creative affairs at Miramax, will oversee the project for Miramax.

Ferrario's first project for Miramax will be an as-yet untitled Italian American football comedy based on his own pitch. The project was brought into Miramax by Lombardo and London-based senior vice president of acquisitions and co-productions Teresa Moneo.

The deals were negotiated by Stuart Ford, senior vice president of business affairs and international operations, and Lombardo on behalf of Miramax. Valentina Conti, of Rome-based talent agency Moviement, and attorneys Craig Emanuel and Jackie Fuchs represented Muccino and Ferrario.

The deals are the latest in Miramax's drive into Italian production following the installation of Lombardo in 1999. Giuseppe Tornatore's Malena is currently on release in the US and won a Golden Globe nomination for best foreign language film.

Miramax has also signed a deal with producer Domenico Procacci to produce an adaptation of Allessandro Barrico's novel Silk, which John Madden is attached to direct.

Muccino and Ferrario are among the new generation of Italian film-makers. Muccino's credits include last year's Come Te Nessuno Mai (But Forever In My Mind) and 1998's Ecco Fatto (That's It). Ferarrio's credits include 1999's Guardami and 1998's Loro.