ITALIAN FILM FESTIVAL
With a program brimming with over 28 features, this year’s Lavazza Italian Film Festival is once more screening in Palace Cinemas around the country in September and October. In Sydney it kicks off on September 12, running through to October 8, with other states starting in the following days.
The Gala Opening Night at Palace Norton Street features Francesco Amato’s Let Yourself Go (Lasciati Andare), the winner of the 2017 Italian Golden Globe for Best Comedy. The pre-publicity suggests that, if you’re in need of a laugh, you’ll definitely want to ‘let yourself go’ to this one.
Simultaneously, at the Palace Verona is Edoardo De Angelis’s Indivisible (Indivisibili). This is a complex drama that covers many of the problems that exist in modern-day Italy, particularly in the South where the struggle to survive financially is paramount. Set in Naples, the central characters are a pair of conjoined twins, singers who are under the thumb of their dissolute father, who sees them as a cash cow. The performances are astonishing and feature real-life twin sisters, Angela and Marianna Fontana. It’s a strange choice for an opening night film but will undoubtedly encourage vigorous discussion after the screening.
Other highlights in the program include Lisa Azuelos’s bio-pic of Dalida, one of Europe’s most famous singers from the late 1950s to the 1980s; Edoardo Maria Falcone’s It’s All About Karma (Questione di Karma), about an unusual relationship between an industrial dynasty heir and a scholar; Sicilian Ghost Story, co-directed by Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza and inspired by the true story of a 1993 kidnapping event; and Naples ’44 (Napoli ‘44), a documentary directed by Francesco Patierno and narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch, that chronicles a British Intelligence officer’s year spent in Naples after the war.
The closing night highlight is a celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the Oscar-winning film Life Is Beautiful (La Vita é Bella), which launched the international career of Roberto Benigni who starred in and directed this extraordinary work. It was described by the late, great critic Roger Ebert as a, “film [that] falls into two parts. One is pure comedy. The other smiles through tears.”
This year’s guest is the Italo-Australian actor Greta Scacchi, who will be present at Q&A sessions after the screening of Gianni Amelio’s new film Tenderness (La tenerezza), a relationship drama that follows in the footsteps of his Stolen Children and Open Doors.
For the first time this year there are the Bulgari Critics’ Choice Awards. The titles under consideration are: At War For Love (In guerra per amore), Fortunata, I Was A Dreamer (Il più grande sogno), Indivisible (Indivisibli), Pure Hearts (Cuori puri) and Sicilian Ghost Story. The award carries a $10,000 prize plus a specially designed award made by the sponsor.