Olympic Ceremonies Producers Tangle in Italy

(ATR) A legal battle goes on between two Italian companies known for work on Olympic ceremonies.

(ATR) Two Italian companies known for work on Olympic ceremonies are trying to settle their differences in court.

A Milan court of appeals has ruled in favor of Filmmaster, the company which handled the ceremonies for the Turin 2006 Winter Games.

The Milan-based production company sued Marco Balich, the producer behind those ceremonies and other events handled by Filmmaster until 2013. That’s when he abruptly left the company to begin his own firm, Worldwide Shows. Balich also hired staff from Filmmaster.

Nearly immediately, Balich received the contract from Sochi 2014 to produce its ceremonies, a job that Filmmaster claims belonged to that company.

Filmmaster went to court claiming damages for unfair competition and diversion of employees over the Sochi 2014 Games ceremonies production.

Filmmaster has filed a request for damages amounting to around $9.5 million.

"The ruling of the Court of Appeal, which subverts the initial ruling of the Court of Milan, has profoundly surprised us, therefore we will appeal to the various competent authorities in order to bring out the reality of the facts," says a statement from Balich and Gianmaria Serra, his partner in the company.

Balich says an appeal will be made to Italy’s highest court. He says he is confident of winning.

"On a personal note, we prefer to service the Olympic institutions and the wonderful world of sports events, instead of looking for profit in courtrooms," Balich tells Around the Rings.

In a statement, Filmmaster told ATR: "We are satisfied to have received news on the ruling which recognizes the damage suffered by Filmmaster due to unfair competition and deviation of employees which occurred in 2013.

"Filmmaster has been creating and producing large-scale events for almost 40 years now, consistently drawing inspiration from the principles of professional integrity and compliance with market rules," says the statement.

Filmmaster was recently appointed the local operator of the Rome stage of Formula E. It is also eyeing up work for the Minsk 2019 European Games and Lima 2019 Pan American Games.

Balich was executive producer of the London 2012 flag handover. He was also executive producer of the Rio Olympic opening and closing ceremonies. He is winning acclaim for the multimedia production about Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel that will be running in Rome through March 2019.

Both Filmmaster and Worldwide Shows are believed to be in the hunt to work on the ceremonies for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Reported by Mark Bisson and Ed Hula

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