Italian government boycotts Cannes film fest

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Italy's minister of culture said he would boycott next week's Cannes Film Festival after a documentary on the L'Aquila earthquake in April 2009 he deemed propaganda was included in the programme.

Sandro Bondi declined the invitation, expressing his "regret and his concern" over the selection of "a propaganda film, 'Draquila', which insults the truth and the Italian people".

"Draquila: Italy Trembles" by the comedian and satirical author Sabina Guzzanti, will be screened out of competition at the 63rd Cannes festival running May 12-23.

Clips of the film have already been aired on television, and show Guzzanti impersonating Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and condemning the takeover by politicians of reconstruction projects in the central town of L'Aquila.

In an interview on the web site Articolo 21, Guzzanti said "Draquila" was "a reflection on Italy's drift to authoritarianism".

Her film aims to show the causes and consequences of the long reconstruction process in the town.

Of some 120,000 people affected by the earthquake in and around L'Aquila, more than 52,000 have yet to return home or move into new housing.

Many are living in hotels along the Adriatic seacoast or in barracks at public expense.

Residents of the new housing estates, which campaigners say were built at three times the projected cost, complain that they have no supporting transport links, no public services -- or even shops.

Reconstruction efforts are also clouded by scandal, with the head of the civil protection service implicated in a wide-ranging investigation into the awarding of contracts in the mountainous quake zone.

© 2010 AFP

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