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CANNES

Berlusconi scandal mill inspires another film

Italy's three-time premier and billionaire Silvio Berlusconi continues to provide ample entertainment fodder, with the first English-language film about his scandal-filled life now in the works.

Berlusconi scandal mill inspires another film
Photo: AFP

Based on a journalistic expose, “The Marquise” by Emmy-nominated US producer Steve Jones will focus on a dubious property deal involving Berlusconi's mansion on a privately owned island, trade magazine Variety reported Saturday.

Jones told Variety he would travel to Italy next month to scout for locations and meet actors and potential directors.

The project is the latest of several films on the 81-year-old media mogul who staged a surprise political comeback in 2017.

It comes as Oscar-winner Paolo Sorrentino's lavish biopic “Loro”, about the tycoon's infamous “bunga bunga” party era, is about to hit the screens in Italy.

The two-part movie failed to make it into this year's Cannes selection.

Back in 2006, Nanni Moretti's Berlusconi satire “The Caiman” became one of Italy's most successful films that year.

READ ALSO: Italy court lifts ban on Berlusconi running for public office: report

CANNES

Italy’s new ‘Buster Keaton’ wins best actor at Cannes

A little-known Italian actor -- who was working as a caretaker when he was discovered -- won best actor at Cannes film festival on Saturday for his portrayal of a cocaine-dealing dog groomer who faces down a local heavy in an urban western.

Italy's new 'Buster Keaton' wins best actor at Cannes
Italian actor Marcello Fonte poses with the Best Actor Prize for his part in "Dogman" at the 71st edition of the Cannes Film Festival. Photo: LOIC VENANCE / AFP
Before being cast by Matteo Garrone of “Gomorrah” fame in “Dogman”, a brutal modern parable of the little guy who can take no more, Marcello Fonte from southern Italy had played only minor parts.
 
He was an extra in Martin Scorsese's “Gangs of New York” (2002) and played a small role in Alice Rohrwacher's 2011 “Corpo Celeste”, about a teenager trying to find her place in a Church-dominated Calabria. 
 
Garrone met Fonte by accident at a social centre where he went to spot talent among former prisoners auditioning for parts in a play. 
 
“Marcello was the caretaker, he was sleeping in the centre. He was listening in on the auditions when one day when one of the ex-prisoners fell ill and died and he took his place.”
 
From there it was a short hop to “Dogman” for the diminutive actor with the big smile and sunken cheeks, whose features reminded Garrone of a bygone Italy. 
 
“He is the modern-day Buster Keaton, almost a silent movie actor”, the director said.
 
For IndieWire reviewer David Ehrlich he played the part of the soft-spoken divorced pooch pamperer “to perfection”.
 
'Scorsese the Scotsman' 
 
Fonte moved to Rome as a teenager to try make his name in the movies.
 
“I made all the mistakes possible, there's not one I missed,” the slightly-built thespian said.
 
In a recent interview he related how you land a part “when you're nothing and have no connections”.
 
“I would go see the wardrobe people and say 'the director sent me' and they would end up finding me a costume.”
 
So it was like that he found himself appearing alongside Leonardo di Caprio and Daniel Day Lewis in “Gangs of New York” — despite never having heard of the director.
 
“He heard Scozzese and thought he must be a Scotsman”, Garrone told AFP, laughing.
 
For “Dogman” he spent three months in a dog parlour to learn how to gussy up pit bulls and chihuahuas. The film is loosely based on a true story in Rome in the late 1980s. Fonte's character, also called Marcello, is relentlessly bullied and betrayed by his friend Simone, a cocaine-snorting local heavy.
 
Marcello passes up multiple opportunities to bump off his tormentor and while Simone eventually gets his just desserts the dogman remains a sympathetic figure to the end.
 
“My character never becomes violent,” Fonte told reporters in Cannes this week. “He is like a flower on a dungheap that remains white, or at least grey, which is never completely sullied.”