The Lavazza Italian Film Festival is guaranteed to reveal the many facets of Italian cinema. From quintessential romantic romps through to hard-hitting dramas and insightful documentaries, this year's program has got it all. Here is our guide to get you started!
Opening & Closing Night
There are two treats on offer to open and close the festival. It all begins with The Great Beauty, a film that won huge acclaim at this year's Cannes Film Festival. It is a deft homage to Rome in the style of Rossellini and Fellini. It is fitting, then, that the closing night film is Fellini's classic and multi-award winning, Roma (1972). This is Italian cinema at its best, and a great opportunity to see his vintage film on the big screen.
A surreal and bizarre examination of obsession, beauty and revenge, About Face focuses on a television presenter who is dropped from her post due to her aging appearance. Her show was about cosmetic surgery, and her husband is a cosmetic surgeon, so it's not long before she finds a way to dabble in a bit of self-transformation. But things, of course, are not what they seem. Be prepared for satire, drama and hilarity.
I love it when a film manages to clock in at less than 90 minutes. It can be refreshing, particularly when most movies these days seem to go well over the two-hour mark! A Special Day takes its cues from classic romantic films like Roman Holiday and Before Sunrise, and brings two people together for a chance meeting over the course of a day in Rome. Francesca Comencini was nominated for the Venice Film Festival's Golden Lion for this charming tale.
Actors often turn to directing, with mixed results. Celebrated Italian actress, Valeria Gollino, directs Honey, and by all accounts she is a natural behind the camera. The film is a sophisticated exploration of a complex topic, euthanasia. Despite the heavy subject, Honey is an artfully constructed drama that hinges on outstanding performances, subtle direction and skilful dialogue.
Winner of the Venice Film Festival's Best Documentary Award, The Human Cargo reveals an incredible true story. On August 8, 1991, a cargo ship arrived at the port of Durazzo, Albania, with 10,000 tons of sugar on board. Whilst the cargo was unloaded, tens of thousands of Durazzo residents rushed on board to escape the terrible circumstances they faced in Albania at the time. Desperate men, women and children got themselves aboard and begged the captain to deliver them to a new life. The Human Cargo combines footage of breathtaking scenes, and interviews with those who took this dangerous voyage to a new life.
It wouldn't be an Italian film festival without the Mafia. Enter Salvo, a dark and brooding film about a member of the Sicilian Mafia. Salvo is not exactly a sympathetic guy, but when a rival gang attacks him, he enters a house to assassinate one of his attackers. In the room is Rita, a young blind girl, who must stand by as her brother is killed. Rita is then held captive by Salvo, who feels compelled to kill her, but struggles to do so as an intense closeness builds between them.
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Image Credit: Italian Film Festival