Italian minister boycotts Cannes Film Festival

Earthquake damage in L'Aquila The earthquake of April 2009 caused great damage to L'Aquila

Italy's culture minister has snubbed an invite to the Cannes Film Festival in protest at a decision to screen a film about the L'Aquila earthquake.

Sandro Bondi has objected to the satirical documentary which criticises Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's handling of the disaster.

He called it "propaganda offending the truth and the whole Italian people".

Draquila, made by comic Sabina Guzzanti, will be shown at the event which starts on 12 May.

The film will be screened out of competition at the festival.

Guzzanti spent months in the quake-ravaged city looking into how the government handled reconstruction efforts after the disaster.

Her film argues that Mr Berlusconi used the event to boost his own popularity, while residents were not consulted about the rapid construction of houses on the city's outskirts.

Mr Bondi, who is a strong supporter of Italy's premier, has been criticised by opposition politicians for rebuffing the invite to Cannes.

Fabio Gambrione of the Italy of Values party said: "Berlusconi and his government are becoming increasingly intolerant of satire and freedom of expression."

L'Aquila was hit by an earthquake in April 2009, leaving 300 people dead and 60,000 homeless.

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CANNES FILM FESTIVAL 2010

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