Confirming its intention to build up a solid international presence, Italy's Rai Cinema announced that it is actively seeking European co-production partners in Germany, Spain and France. Giuliano Montaldo, chairman of Rai Cinema, the Rome-based film arm of public broadcaster Rai Cinema, said the company plans to announce a European project in 2002.

Montaldo also said the company may eventually co-produce an Italian film with StudioCanal, its partner in its fledgling Italian distribution venture, 01 Distribuzione.

Meanwhile, Rai Cinema vice-president Carlo Macchitella announced that Andrei Konchalovsky will no longer direct The Woman With The Gun, one of the two highly-touted films Rai Cinema is set to co-produce with legendary producer Dino de Laurentiis. He did not give any specific reasons for Konchalovsky's withdrawal from the project.

Macchitella said the other Rai Cinema-De Laurentiis joint project, The Last Legion, an ancient Rome epic which has Italian director Carlo Carlei attached to direct, is still at script stage.

Meanwhile, Montaldo confirmed that the company will continue to add established Italian names to its stable of directors - new additions include Carlo Lizzani and Pasquale Squittieri, as well as Italian director Franco Zeffirelli, who will shoot his next project for Rai Cinema after he finishes Callas Forever, the film about opera diva Maria Callas which he is currently making for rival mini major Medusa.

Anxious not to leave any genres uncovered, Rai Cinema is now also set to produce a film by the Vanzina brothers, the writing-directing team known for their farcical comedies, who are currently shooting Rupert Everett starrer South Kensington.

With regards to new talent, Macchitella said the company will co-produce Alessandro Piva's (La Capagira) next film and several comedies by first time directors.