As Venice's newartistic director Marco Mueller steams ahead to gather a high profile line-upfor the 61st edition of the festival, bets are already out on which Italianfilms could potentially make the cut.

Among these is thenew film by popular Italian director Carlo Mazzacurati, La Relazione,which is currently shooting and is co-produced by Italy's Bianca Film andFrance's Pyramide. Adapted from Carlo Cassola's novel of the same name, LaRelazione is set in Tuscany in the 1930s, and traces the love story betweena bank employee and a working-class girl who works as a manicurist in Livorno.The film stars two of Italy's hottest actors: Stefano Accorsi, whose creditsinclude The Last Kiss and A Voyage Called Love, and Maya Sansa, who starred in The BestOf Youth and Buongiorno, Notte.

Also tipped for aVenice premiere is La Vita Che Vorrei, a new film by Giuseppe Piccioni,whose last film, Luce dei miei Occhi earned lead actors Luigi Lo Cascioand Sandra Ceccarelli best acting prizes at Venice in 2001. Piccioni's latestfilm, which also stars Lo Cascio and Ceccarelli, is produced by LionelloCerri's Lumiere, and focuses on two actors who meet on a film set, and whoselove affair mirrors the story of the film they are shooting. It is currently inpost-production.

Gianni Amelio's TheKeys To The House with Charlotte Rampling also looks likely for a Veniceslot. But the Italian director is already preparing his next feature, aromantic drama entitled La Dimissione, which is expected to shoot aroundShanghai and Rome in early 2005.

Meanwhile, DomenicoProcacci's Fandango is currently co-producing a new picture jointly written anddirected by three veteran festival favourites: Ermanno Olmi, Abbas Kiarostamiand Ken Loach.

Unlike previouscollective efforts which have seen filmmakers on films such as Eros(also produced by Fandango) direct separate short films, Olmi, Kiarostami andLoach have collaborated on the same screenplay of the feature, named Tickets,and will each direct one part of the same film.

The drama, which isset to shoot from the end of May in Austria, will unfold on a train thattravels from an Eastern European country to Rome's Termini station, and willfocus on the passengers who each have their own problems, anxieties and hopes,and meet on the train for the first time.

In the meantime,two of Italy's most internationally popular directors, Marco Tullio Giordanaand Emanuele Crialese, are currently lining up new projects: The Best OfYouth director Giordana is set to direct a film inspired by RudyardKipling's children's classic, Captains Courageous, to be named QuandoSei Nato (literally, When you were Born), while Respiro directorCrialese is developing a picture called The Golden Door, about aSicilian family who emigrate to America in the early 20th century.

For full Italian production listings click HERE