Spike Lee could soon join Abel Ferrara and John Boorman in a growing list of American and British directors who are currently turning to Italy to finance a film.
Lee, who is in Italy to promote She Hate Me ahead of its October 22 release, says he plans to make a film that will be set in Italy during World War II and will focus on "the 92nd division of the American army, which was largely made up of African-American soldiers and liberated a number of Italian cities."
"It's one of two films that I want to make. The other one is about the boxer Joe Louis, and will star Vin Diesel," Lee said, referring to a biopic about the African-American boxer and his rivalry with Germany's Max Schmeling, which culminated in a 1938 championship fight.
Lee will join Ferrara and Boorman, who are both currently drumming up financing in Italy for their projects. Italian producers Andrea Gropplero, Massimo Cortesi and Roberto De Nigris are backing Ferrara's Mary, which focuses on a movie star who becomes obsessed with Mary Magdalene after playing the biblical character. The film's cast will include Vincent Gallo.
The New York indie director is also seeking financing in Italy for Go Go Tales, a screwball comedy which is to star Harvey Keitel, Robert Carlyle and Giancarlo Giannini.
Meanwhile, Boorman hopes to start production on the Memoirs Of Hadrian, a big-budget international co-production produced by Italy's Enzo Peri and backed by Rai Cinema.
During a conference in Rome on American cinema, Spike Lee said that in his films he has often focused on the interaction between Italian- American culture and African-American culture.
"I have been coming to Italy since 1986. I am trying to understand how things work here," national daily Il Corriere della Sera quoted Lee as saying. "At the head of your country, you have a man who owns TV networks, newspapers, a football team. This means that there is a huge possibility for conflict of interest."
However, Lee admitted that a few years ago, he would have spoken about Italian politics in a different way. "Well, I am wiser now. I want to make a film. Produced by Berlusconi' He's my greatest friend!" the director quipped.
Over the last few months, Lee has spent a considerable amount of time in Italy. He shot a high-profile ad for Telecom Italia, which is currently airing on national TV, and was also a member of the jury at the last Venice Film Festival.
This week, he will be in Milan to receive the third annual Mifed Award, which will be handed out to him during a gala dinner hosted by the Fondazione Fiera Milano Grandi Eventi.