ROME -- Oscar-nominated Italian producer Vittorio Cecchi Gori was sentenced to six years behind bars and ordered to pay €11.5 million ($15.6 million) in damages Friday in connection with the with the bankruptcy of his production company Safin Cinematografica.
Cecchi Gori, 70, the son of late Italian production legend Mario Cecchi Gori, has produced nearly 200 films on his own or together with his father. His credits include Michael Radford’s Il Postino (1994) and Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful (1997) -- both best picture Oscar nominees -- and Gabriele Salvatores’ Meditrraneo, which won the best foreign-language film Oscar in 1992.
The younger Cecchi Gori has not made a film since a co-production credit on 2009’s Everybody’s Fine, which starred Robert De Niro as a widower in a remake of Giuseppe Tornatore's 1990 Italian-language film Stanno tutti bene, starring Marcello Mastroianni in the lead role. Cecchi Gori was given a production credit on the 2009 film because he produced the original.
His last full production credit was from 2008, with Federico Moccia's Scusa ma ti chiamo amore (Sorry, if I Love You), which starred Raoul Bova as an executive who falls in love with a extroverted high school girl 20 years his junior.
The case connected to Safin Cinematografica is the latest in a long series of woes for Cecchi Gori, who in recent years had been forced to raise cash by selling his film library to Mediaset, the television and cinema empire controlled by one-time rival Silvio Berlusconi; his home video operation; various buildings in central Italy; and the Multisala Adriano, the Rome cinema complex reported to be the most profitable in Italy.
Rome-based prosecutor Stefano Rocco Fava called for a seven-year prison term for Cecchi Gori in this latest case, alleging criminal bankruptcy. Judge Giuseppe Mezzofiore found Cecchi Gori and five other Safin Cinematografica figures guilty of the charges but reduced the producer's sentence by a year. The other figures were former Cecchi Gori adviser Luigi Barone, company liquidator Edward De Memme, former chairman Giorgio Ghini and supervisory board members Vittorio Micocci and Alessandro Mattiolo.
The court also ruled that $15.6 million in assets held by other Cecchi Gori companies be seized in order to pay Safin Cinematografica creditors.
Cecchi Gori did not speak to the court after the sentencing, but his lawyer, Massimo Biffa, said the sentence was too severe and that the producer would appeal. The attorney added, however, that he would wait until the judge filed his detailed opinion on the case within 90 days before commenting the appeal in detail. Cecchi Gori will not be allowed to leave Italy until an appeal is filed.