Empire Pictures Acquires Italian Feature "Caterina in the Big City" for April U.S. Rollout
by Anthony Kaufman
Paolo Virzi's coming-of-age story "Caterina in the Big City" (Caterina va in città) has been acquired by Empire Pictures, the company announced Wednesday. Empire Pictures executive vice president Ed Arentz negotiated the deal with Sesto Cifola of Rai Trade. The film, a 2003 box office hit in Italy, is scheduled for U.S. release April 8, 2005, in New York and Los Angeles, followed by a national arthouse rollout.
Written, directed and produced by Virzi, the film focuses on fifteen-year-old Caterina (Alice Teghil), a provincial girl who moves with her parents (Sergio Castellito and Margherita Buy) from a seaside town in Tuscany to an apartment complex in Rome. Caterina's new private school is a microcosm of the cultural and political divisions of Italy at that time, and she quickly gets drawn into conflict between goth princess Margherita (Carolina Iaquaniello) and her left-wing clique, and the rich celebutante Daniela (Federica Sbrenna) and her group of spoiled right-wing fashionistas. Buy's performance as Caterina's simple and loving mother earned her a 2004 David di Donatello award for Best Supporting Actress - Italy's Oscar equivalent.
The film made its U.S. debut as part of the Film Society of Lincoln Center's 4th annual Open Roads: New Italian Cinema program in June 2004. Prior to "Caterina in the Big City"'s April release, the film will appear later this month at the Walter Reade Theater as part of the Film Society's "Our Man of the Hour: Sergio Castellito" retrospective.
"'Caterina' functions both as a witty political satire and a moving coming-of-age tale while demonstrating again the vitality of current Italian cinema," said Arentz in a statement. "We think American arthouse audiences will love it and be intrigued by how closely Italian social divisions mirror our own."
Empire's recent releases include Best Foreign Language Oscar® nominee "The Twilight Samurai" by Yogi Yamada and Michelle Deville's "Almost Peaceful"; other upcoming releases slated for the spring include "Monsieur N" and "Balzac and the Little Seamstress."