ITALIAN FILM FESTIVAL
The Italian Film Festival 2020 commences in Sydney on Tuesday 29 September and runs until Sunday 18 October, with other cities and towns running more or less in tandem with those dates. Those centres are Adelaide, Brisbane, Byron Bay, Canberra and Perth, but unfortunately not Melbourne, where cinemas are still closed due to COVID-19.
In her welcome address, Festival Director, Elysia Zeccola, explains that “This year might look a little different: we will be sitting further apart and we will blow kisses instead of launching into a warm embrace, but when the lights go down and the film rolls, we will all escape to Italy together”. If only…
The Festival is once again presenting some of the best Italian films of the previous 12 months (plus a classic from the past) and opens with Matteo Garrone’s multi-award-winning Pinocchio, starring Oscar-winner Roberto Benigni in the role of Geppetto. Coming from the director of Gomorrah and Dogman, it promises to be a strange and moving trip into a fantastic world. A tribute to the recently deceased composer Ennio Morricone is being addressed with the closing night film, Giuseppe Tornatore’s Malena, which opened the inaugural Italian Film Festival 20 years ago and features Monica Bellucci in the starring role.
There are three Special Presentations: Ferzan Ozpetek’s The Goddess Of Fortune, a contemporary drama about a gay couple adopting two children. It is a superb depiction of a modern gay relationship in all its complexities and a highlight of the Festival; veteran director Marco Bellocchio’s The Traitor, the true story of Tommaso Buscetta, the gangster who broke the code of omertà that led to the Mafia trials of the 1980s; and Pietro Marcello’s award-winning Martin Eden, based on a 1909 book by Jack London about an aspiring novelist who undergoes a political awakening. Marcello has seamlessly transposed the tale’s location from the American West to pre-war Italy.
The New Italian Cinema section features a line-up of 11 new titles that includes:
- the suburban noir Bad Tales, directed by twin brothers Damiano and Fabio D’Innocenzo;
- Hammamet, by Gianni Amelio, which recounts the last year of Italian politician Bettino Craxi’s life in Tunisian exile;
- Cristina Comencini’s Feel Your Memories, a thriller that combines the subconscious and memory when a woman returns to Italy after 40 years abroad to sell her family home; and
- a must-see for lovers of Italian comedy, Salvatore Ficarra and Valentino Picone’s Once Upon A Time… In Bethlehem, an hilarious twist on the nativity that has the two comedians transported back to year zero, just in time for the birth of Jesus.
A nice break from the more serious side of the program is the Family Films section containing two titles:
- My Brother Chases Dinosaurs, directed by Stefano Cipani, inspired by the true story of a boy growing up with his Down syndrome brother, who he believes has super powers; and
- The Most Beautiful Day In The World, a modern-day fairy tale directed by Alessandro Siani, a tribute to Italian theatre.
The Italian Film Festival 2020 provides a good excuse to break out of ‘iso’ and have some fun.
Ci vediamo al cinema!