ITALIAN FILM FESTIVAL
11 September to 24 October 2018
Beginning in Sydney on Tuesday 11 September and wrapping in Hobart on Wednesday 24 October, having passed through Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth, the 19th edition of the Lavazza Italian Film Festival, promises once again to delight lovers of Latin movies and culture. Festival director Elysia Zeccola says she “encourage[s] you to discover your favourites from this collection of the best Italian films from the last 12 months, including 37 feature films and documentaries, over 30 Australian Premieres, [and] two short films.” The special international guest of the Festival (in Sydney and Melbourne only) will be Italian actress Valeria Solarino, who features in three films: As Needed, There’s No Place Like Home and I Can Quit Whenever I Want 3: Ad Honorem.
Opening night sees the new film by the brilliant Oscar-winning director of This Must Be The Place, The Great Beauty, Youth and the extraordinary television series The Young Pope, Paolo Sorrentino. Called Loro, it covers the life and times of the infamous media magnate and ex-Prime Minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi, and it promises to be a warts-and-all look at his scandalous career. Shown in two parts on its theatrical release in Italy, the Festival will exhibit Loro as a single film running at 150 minutes.
Other recommendations in a Festival chock full of cinematic delights are:
Dogman, the latest thriller from Gomorrah director Matteo Garrone. Based on a true story, it’s about a mild-mannered man who ran a dog grooming business in the suburbs of Naples and his reluctant involvement in a criminal enterprise that was forced on him by a local stand-over man. Its star, Marcell Fonte, won the Best Actor award at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival;
Another tale of crime in the ‘burbs, but set in Rome, is Boys Cry, directed by the D’Innocenzo brothers, Damiano and Fabio. It’s a tough story about two working-class teenagers whose dream of moving up in the world appears to be coming true when an accident brings them into the realm of the local mafia boss. This is a brutal, down-at-heel view of Rome that tourists never see, nor would they want to;
For a lighter slice of la vita romana look no further than Like A Cat On A Highway, an award-winning comedy about two very different parents united by their desire to stop their 13-year-old kids from dating each other. He’s wealthy and lives in the centre of Rome and she’s an ex-checkout chick who resides in a notorious outer suburb of the city, and they’re as different as cheese and chalk. This ‘odd couple’ film was the most popular locally-made movie at the Italian box office last year;
My Big Gay Italian Wedding also looks like being a lot of laughs. Sparks fly when Antonio returns to his traditional, religious village of Bagnoregio in Lazio to introduce his fiancé Paolo to his mama and papa. His mother is supportive of the marriage but his father, played by Diego Abatantuono, is not so keen on the idea. Getting to the altar is going be difficult in this conservative Catholic town.
A Festival highlight promises to be a sidebar focussing on the films of the great Turkish-born director Ferzan Ozpetek, one of Italy’s most successful filmmakers. It showcases three of his earlier titles, Ignorant Fairies from 2001, Facing Windows from 2003 and Loose Cannons from 2010, plus his most recent work, Naples In Veils.
Other retrospective films are Dario Argento’s 1977 horror movie Suspiria, famed for its ground-breaking use of colour and wild script (these screenings are timely because of Luca Guadagnino’s soon-to-be-released remake of Argento’s masterpiece), and Sergio Leone’s 1964 Spaghetti-Western classic A Fistful Of Dollars, which made a star of Clint Eastwood. Da non perdere, as the Italians would say, not to be missed!
These are just a few of the many dramas, comedies and documentaries on offer in this year’s edition of the Lavazza Italian Film Festival, so it’s well worth spending some time poring over the selection here to make your choices from what’s on offer in your home city. You’ll soon be shouting, “Viva il cinema!”
A Festival highlight is the fabulous Ferrante Fever documentary, which analyses the works of the mysterious author who writes under the name Elena Ferrante, followed by a screening of Mario Martone's 1995 Naples-set drama Troubling Love, an intense mystery adapted from the eponymous novel by Ferrante.