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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 September, 2004, 13:14 GMT 14:14 UK
Benigni shooting Iraq 'comedy'
Roberto Benigni
Benigni's Holocaust comedy was controversial but won a clutch of awards (pic: Italian Rai3 TV)
Italian actor and director Roberto Benigni is to make a film about the Iraq war.

La Tigre e la Neve (The Tiger and the Snow) is set in Iraq in March 2003 - right at the beginning of the US-led campaign.

In spite of the subject matter, Oscar-winner Benigni intends the film - which is due for release in 2005 - to be a comedy.

Benigni plays the part of a poet who is in Iraq by chance and is caught up in the events.

"War naturally is the background of the film and my character is directly involved in it. This poet ends up in Iraq by pure chance," Benigni told Italian Rai radio.

Westerners are running the show
Roberto Benigni

Benigni hopes audiences around the world will be able to identify with his character.

"What is extraordinary is his vision of the world. This is one person representing all the people in the world," he said.


In a further interview on Italian Rai TV, Benigni criticised the West's role in the Iraq violence.

"Westerners are running the show, all of those doing these things have studied in the West, it is not the Easterners. We know how many dreams the East gives, and how grateful we are to the East and love all its beautiful things," he said.

This is not the first time Benigni has attempted to deal with difficult topics in light-hearted fashion.

He won international recognition and attracted some controversy in 1998 with Life is Beautiful, a Holocaust comedy about a family of Italian Jews persecuted by Italian fascists and German Nazis.

The film won three Academy Awards - best actor for Benigni, best foreign film, best original score.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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