EXCLUSIVE: Marco Bellocchio developing 16th century drama and feature version of opera Pagliacci.

Writer-director Marco Bellocchio is developing a 16th century period drama that he is aiming to shoot in 2013, and a €5m adaptation of opera Pagliacci, scheduled for 2014.

Italian veteran Bellocchio, whose most recent effort Dormant Beauty played to acclaim in Venice’s competition, is close to closing finance on La Priggione di Bobbio (‘Bobbio Prison’) a 16th century drama set during the inquisition that charts the story of a seductress who is falsely accused of being a witch.

The €1.5m budgeted Italian-language drama, which already has a large part of its finance in place through private equity, is currently out to cast on the female lead.

Bellocchio’s son Pier Giorgio - a regular in his films - is attached to play a priest, one of the film’s prominent roles.

The film is roughly based on a story by 19th century Italian novelist and poet Alessandro Manzoni. The film is being produced under the banner of Bellocchio’s Kavac Film.


The acclaimed director is also developing a larger, more ambitious project called Pagliacci (Clowns), based on Ruggero Leoncavallo’s famous opera of the same name.

The €5m-budgeted project, tentatively slated for 2014, will follow the traditional story of lovers who become engulfed in tragedy but will be relocated from its town setting to that of a mental institute.

The film’s cast will be made up of professional opera singers and will feature a live orchestra.

Associates of Bellocchio’s are at the Rome Film Festival discussing Pagliacci with potential production partners.

Both films will shoot in Italy.