Sky Italia to Broadcast Controversial Anti-Berlusconi Documentary

Eric J. Lyman
The Hollywood Reporter
Sky Italia to Broadcast Controversial Anti-Berlusconi Documentary

ROME – A day after it was revealed that the Italian premiere of a new documentary critical of media mogul and prime minister candidate Silvio Berlusconi at Rome’s MAXXI Museum would be pushed back until after this month’s elections, satellite broadcaster Sky Italia announced it would screen the film as part of a special “Cultpolitik” series.

Italian Minister of Culture Lorenzo Ornaghi and MAXXI Museum head Giovanna Melandri, a former minister of culture, said Monday they would postpone the premiere of Girlfriend in a Coma, originally scheduled for Feb. 13, until after the Feb. 24-25 elections, saying airing such a critical documentary during the campaign would be “unfair.”

The decision was attacked by the film’s producers and in many Italian media, sparking a petition that by Tuesday afternoon had gathered more than 25,000 signatures.

Italian newspapers reported that Sky Italia, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., would screen the film as part of a special series of political films to screen on its Sky Cinema Cult channel Feb. 11-15.

Girlfriend in a Coma is based on the book Good Italy, Bad Italy, written by former editor of The Economist Bill Emmot, who co-wrote the documentary along with Italian journalist Annalisa Piras. Piras is also the film’s director.

The documentary detail's Italy's "decline" during the years it was led by Berlusconi, noted for a long series of personal and legal scandals.

Sky Italia has emerged as the leading rival to the three traditional free-to-air networks controlled by Berlusconi’s Mediaset. The broadcaster’s offer to host a debate between the major candidates ahead of the election is still officially open, though it’s likely the decision to screen Girlfriend in a Coma will mean Berlusconi could refuse to participate in a debate event. Berlusconi was already seen as likely to balk because of Sky Italia’s rivalry with Mediaset.

The film has previously screened in London and New York. The Sky Italia screening will be the film's Italian premiere.