Rai Cinema is co producing several pictures by Italy’s hottest auteurs and CEO Caterina D’Amico says that to date in 2010, US$51.6 mil (Euros 40 mil) has been invested in Italian films.

Rai Cinema’s support can’t be underestimated in Italy, where issues around diminished state funding is often a point of fury for film-makers here. Rai Cinema’s annual over-all investment in cinema is approximately US$90 mil (Euros 70 mil), says CEO Caterina D’Amico.

The effort is paying off. Rai Cinema co-financed Daniele Luchetti’s La Nostra Vita with Cattleya, the only Italian film in Cannes competition. They were also the big winners at the recent David of Donatello awards, where Rai Cinema nabbed the prestigious best producer award and five projects they co financed, including Marco Bellocchio’s Vincere, Giorgio Diritti’s The Man Who Will Come, Ferzan Ozpetek’s Loose Cannons took leading honors.

As for new productions, camera’s are set to roll on several co-productions including Emanuele Crialese’s awaited Terra Ferma, which will begin shooting on the Sicilian island Linosa at the end of May. “It’s a complex story of how island dwellers get used to the contrast between the image of their island as a tourist location, with that of a possible passage for illegal immigration.” Cattleya is producing the Italian/Sicilian dialect project. Donatella Finocchiaro stars. 

Roberto Faenza’s English language, New York set One Day This Pain Will Be Useful To You, based on the eponymous Peter Cameron novel will begin shooting this fall. Elda Ferri for Jean Vigo produces with Rai Cinema.

Other co productions currently on set include the Gianni Amelio directed French language Albert Camus “biopic” The First Man (Le Premier Homme) based on the unfinished autobiography the great philosopher was writing when he unexpectedly died. Produced by France’s Arena with Cattleya and Rai Cinema, the film stars Jacques Gamblin, Denis Podalydes and Maya Sansa and is currently shooting between Algeria and France.

Nanni Moretti’s tightly under wraps Pope themed We Have A Pope (Habemus Papam) is also on set. Unveiled at last year’s Cannes film festival, the picture is collaboration between Fandango, Le Pact, Sacher Film and Rai Cinema.

Also on set is Pupi Avati’s love story Una Sconfinata Giovenezza, starring Francesca Neri and Fabrizio Bentivoglio, that D’Amico says is “about a couple that is deeply in love when the husband becomes ill.”

Meanwhile, several prestige products expected for the fall/winter release include Mario Martone’s costume drama We Believed (Noi Credevamo), which is likely to be ready for a Venice time frame. D’Amico says the picture is “very rich, with sophisticated images.” Carlo Degli Esposti for Palomar produces the picture with France’s Les Films d’Ici and Rai Cinema.

Domenico Procacci’s Fandango will release La Passione, a Tuscany-set comedy about a disillusioned film director portrayed by Silvio Orlando and directed by Carlo Mazzacurati.

Claudio Cupellini’s Una Vita Tranquilla produced by Fabrizio Mosca’s Acaba produzioni, stars Toni Servillo. D’Amico says it’s the story of “a man with a family leading a peaceful life – at a certain point we realize he has a past life and it comes back to haunt him.” From Indigo Film, Andrea Molaioli’s Il Giollellino about the Parmalat scandal also stars Toni Servillo; box office wunder-kid Fausto Brizzi’s Maschi Contro Femmine from Fulvio Lucisano’s Italian International Film will see release this fall as will director Ricky Tognazzi’s Il Padre E Lo Straniero, about a friendship between an Italian and an Arab, starring Alessandro Gassman, Amr Waked and Ksenia Rappoport.

Projects in scripting phrase include two illustrious talents: Palme d’or winner Ermanno Olmi who is writing Il Villaggio Di Cartone, literally The Carton Village and Marco Tullio Giordana’s Segreti Di Piazza Fontana.

D’Amico won’t give away Olmi’s story line but says, “Often, as in this case, Olmi’s films speak of ethics and solidarity and social co-habitation,” D’Amico hopes shooting will begin in the fall, while Tullio Giordana’s next political pic should see a 2011 start of shoot date.

D’Amico also says there is also a slate of first works on the agenda – D’Amico was very much behind Valerio Mielli’s debut Dieci Inverni, presented at the last Venice Film Festival which also took the David award for best new director.