ITALIAN FILM FESTIVAL
The Lavazza Italian Film Festival commences in Sydney on 17 September and finishes in Adelaide and Hobart on 23 October, running in most state and territory capitals plus Byron Bay between those dates (sorry Darwin, you miss out. Click on the purple title above for full state details). Celebrating its 20th year, it once again promises to bring a feast of old and new films, with sections on New Italian Cinema, Comedy-Italian Style, Films On Art, Gems From The Past, a Retrospective on the great Bernardo Bertolucci and a couple of Special Presentations.
The Festival opens with Leonardo D’Agostini’s debut film, The Champion, which deals with the troubles of a young, up-and-coming professional football player when he’s corrupted by the spoils of success. Bound to be a hit, it is described in the program notes as ‘a beautifully balanced blend of the spectacular and the intimate, delivering a moral lesson that is both identifiable and strikingly moving.’ It also features popular veteran actor Stefano Accorsi in a leading role.
Closing night introduces Ron Howard’s much-anticipated documentary Pavarotti. The documentary includes never-before-seen footage of the late superstar, who is regarded as one of the most famous tenors in history. A must-see for opera fans.
The Special Presentations section includes the Director’s Cut of Paolo Sorrentino’s wonderful Loro, a portrait of the scandal-plagued ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The theatrical edit was in the Festival last year and this one is not to be missed either! Sorrentino’s new cut runs at three hours and 43 minutes, with a 15-minute interval, whereas the version in 2018 ran only two-and-a-half hours. The second Special is the Australian premiere of Edoardo De Angelis’ The Vice Of Hope. Set in Castel Volturno on the outskirts of Naples (the same setting for the recent Dogman), it tells the story of a woman caught up in the sordid world of child-trafficking. The film was described in Cineuropa magazine as ‘a portrait of the female condition in the world of the Camorra’ [the Neapolitan mafia].
To celebrate the work of the great director Bernardo Bertolucci, a Retrospective will showcase The Conformist (1970) and 1900 (1976), classic films that are well-worth revisiting. The multi award-winning Bertolucci, who died last year, left a superb legacy of extraordinary movies, and these two have been restored to their full glory.
There is an Australian movie in the Festival this year as well - the world premiere of the Aussie film Promised, directed by first-timer Nick Conidi and starring Paul Mercurio and Tina Arena and a host of other familiar Italo-Australian actors. Beginning in 1950s' Melbourne, it's a romantic drama about the repercussions stemming from an agreement between two fathers when they decide that the five-year-old son of one will marry the new-born daughter of the other when the kids grow up. What could possibly go wrong?
A guest of the Festival is Mimmo Calopresti, director of Aspromonte - Land Of The Forgotten, which depicts a clash in the 1950s between the residents of a small village in southern Italy and the local mafia don when the villagers come together to build a road into their valley. It stars Valeria Bruni Tedeschi and Sergio Rubini and promises to be a highlight of the New Italian Cinema side-bar. Two other films in this section also feature Rubini, My Own Good, the tale of a man who refuses to leave his earthquake-devastated town, and The Great Sprit, which he directed as well as acted in. It’s the offbeat story of an unlikely friendship between two outcasts in Taranto, Puglia.
The subjects of the two Films On Art are self-explanatory, Amazing Leonardo and Michelangelo - Endless. These films celebrate the lives and work of the extraordinary men who many consider to be the greatest Italian artists of all time.
The above is just a tiny sample of the many titles included in this fabulous collection of dramas, comedies and documentaries from Italy. Film lovers can’t help but find something to their taste in the wide array of movies and genres on offer. Da non perdere il Lavazza Italian Film Festival!