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Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Antonietta De Lillo's 'The Remains of Nothing' Available to Stream Until April 11

Antonietta De Lillo's 2005 film made its North American premiere that year at Lincoln Center's annual film series, Open Roads: New Italian Cinema. That's where I saw it at an afternoon screening and was mesmerized by the cinematic world that I became lost in. The film is now available to stream on Vimeo for three days thanks to the Marano Ragazzi Spot Festival.

Set toward the end of the 17th century, an apparently fragile Portuguese noblewoman with great intelligence and determination strongly embraces the ideas of the revolution. Conscious of her own limitations and weaknesses, she decides to fight for the affirmation of her ideals. In attempting to bring Naples around to the revolutionary winds blowing through Europe at that time, at the age of 47, she ends up on the scaffold, and is killed along with hundreds of her collaborators under the fury of the Bourbon dynasty.

This woman is Eleonora Fimentel de Fonseca, poet, writer, journalist and courageous intellectual. The true meaning behind her rebellion has a value which cannot be traced back to ‘the rest of nothing‘. Freely adapted from Enzo Striano’s novel, by the same name.

Click here to stream The Remains of Nothing. Unfortunately, there are not English subtitles, but it's worth the visual artistry and dramatic performances even if you can't follow along verbatim. Click here to read our 2016 interview.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Weekend Streaming Pick- 'The Cost of Bread' by Lucia Grillo

Photo by Rene Besson
Watching contemporary Italian films since the first edition of Open Roads: New Italian Cinema in 2001 and interviewing so many interesting filmmakers over the years, there are memorable films that always stay with me. One of them is Lucia Grillo's A pena do pana (The Cost of Bread), a touching portrait of a Calabrese mother and daughter struggling to make ends meet. 

Set in Calabria in 1959, the 16-minute film follows nine-year-old Mariuzzedda as she goes to work each morning harvesting olives, then to school with a grumbling tummy. She begins taking bread on credit at the local bakery, until the day comes when she must pay her debt. The story was inspired by the relationship between Grillo's mother and grandmother, playing the part inspired by her grandmother, a woman to whom she feels a great connection. 

When Grillo's grandmother passed away in 2011, she says that a part of her Calabria died as well that day. “No matter how much I knew and traveled Italy, I was not truly "in Italy" until I arrived at my Nonna's house. I was glad I got to make A pena do pana shot in the house she built with my Nonno and where my mother was born.” 

Italian-American actor Vincent Schiavelli plays a key role in this multilayered film. At the time, he had relocated to Polizzi Generosa, the Sicilian town where his grandfather was born, and was working mostly in Italian cinema. A pena do pana is a unique work that features a wonderful performance by this beloved character actor.  Click here to stream it. 

Watch a clip from my interview with Lucia Grillo on shooting in Calabria..

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Explore Ancient Rome Without Leaving the House

Referred to as “Museum Edutainment,” Bardeum is a new interactive app that’s like having your own private tour guide at some of the most iconic sites in the world. 

A work in progress, the app currently covers Ancient Rome. Florence and Pompeii are slated for a May release and Venice for a 2021 release.

Clicking on Rome in the app will take you to a page titled Rome Experiences. There, you’ll see sections on the Roman Forum and Roman Colosseum. Palantine Hill will be coming soon. Each section covers a variety of topics. Selecting Roman Colosseum, you will be advanced to the story of Spartacus where you will hear a detailed account of the legendary slave-turned-gladiator who led an uprising that gave Julius Caesar a run for his money. The story takes you out of Rome to the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius in Pompeii as the Roman fleet of soldiers was stationed at the Bay of Naples. Selecting the Roman Forum will give you the tragic story of the Vestal Virgin Cornelia who broke her vow of chastity and was reportedly buried alive.

The app is available free of charge through the Apple store and Google Play. Go to for details.

Actor Francesco Colella on His Character in 'Aspromonte: La terra degli ultimi'

Colella on set with actor Francesco Grillo
I am working on my next article for Fra Noi Magazine of Chicago.. a profile on the Calabrese actor Francesco Colella, and I'd like to share a short clip of our interview. 

We met in November at the Rome premiere of his film Aspromonte: La terra degli ultimi directed by Mimmo CaloprestiThe film was supposed to make its North American premiere at the Italian Film Festival USA but was postponed due to the coronavirus. 

Colella is from Calabria and has been in many film and television productions made in the region, including the FX series Trust, which is now available on Hulu, and the new Amazon series ZeroZeroZeroIn the clip below, he talks about his character in ‘Aspromonte: La terra degli ultimi’ who fights to improve the conditions of poverty for his townspeople.

The article I’m working on will be published in the May issue of the magazine. I’ll publish it online ASAP.. and keep you updated on the new date of the festival screening. In the meantime, watch Francesco Colella in Trust, Episode 8, In the Name of the Father on HuluYouTubeAmazon PrimeSling and Google Play.

Check out my interview with two of Colella's costars, child actor Francesco Grillo and musician-turned-actor Fortunato Verduci.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

The Extraordinary Photography and Cinematography of Arturo Zavattini

Marcello Mastroianni, La Dolce Vita
Watching an old movie today, Love in the City, I rediscovered the work of Arturo Zavattini.

Born in 1930, Zavattini is known for his work as a photographer, cinematographer and director of photography. His father, Cesare Zavattini was one of Federico Fellini's longtime collaborators, so Arturo practically grew up on film sets. He worked as an assistant and camera operator on famous Italian films such as Il Bidone, La Dolce Vita and Divorce Italian Style. He also worked as an ethnographic photographer, accompanying anthropologist Ernesto de Martino on his infamous expedition to Lucania in 1952, which would later inspire Luigi Di Gianni's debut documentary, Magia Lucana.

Being a teenager in Rome during the post-war years, Zavattini was very influenced by the neorealism film movement and that influence was always apparent during the multi-decade span of his career. His images taken in Rome, Naples and other Italian cities and districts documented social life on the streets, in particular the dire conditions in which the children were forced to live.

Although noted for documenting the socioeconomic struggles of his own country, Zavattini left Italy to explore other faraway places. In 1956, he traveled to Bangkok, Phetchaburi and northern Thailand where he made a journalistic report on the shooting of the film The Sea Wall by French director, René Clément, based on the novel of the same name by Marguerite Duras. He captured rare images of life in Thailand during that era.

Thailandia, Bangkok
In 1960, he traveled to Cuba where he had an accidental encounter with Ernesto "Che" Guevara. The meeting came immediately after the revolution, while working as a camera operator on director Tomás Gutierréz Alea's Historias de la revolución (Stories of the Revolution). Gutiérrez studied cinema at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome in the early 1950s. Like Zavattini, he was also influenced by Italian Neorealism and created his first films in Rome. Perhaps the two knew each other from those early days. Click below to watch the film on YouTube.

In recent years, Zavattini has organized and archived his lifetime of images, many of which were on exhibit in 2016 at the Museo Nazionale Arti & Tradizioni Popolari in Rome. Scroll down to see a few of his most recognizable images. Click here to see more photos of the set of Tomás Gutierréz Alea's film with Ernesto "Che" Guevara.

Federico Fellini with Actress Nico (née Christa Päffgen) on the set of La Dolce Vita, 1960

Ernesto "Che" Guevara on the set of Historias de la revolución, 1960

Assistant cameraman Ennio Guarnieri, Nico and Federico Fellini on the set of La Dolce Vita, 1960 

Friday, March 13, 2020

Explore the Immense Historical Archives of Istituto Luce Cinecittà

The historical archives of Istituto Luce Cinecittà offers an extensive online collection of more than 70,000 archival videos dating back to the early 20th century and more than 430,000 photographs. The organization provides free access to the vast digital records of Italy's history and culture, which includes thousands of hours of footage. 

Topics include cinema, arts, history, politics, sports and current affairs. Three hundred silent films spanning the years of 1927 – 1932 have just been added, some never seen before, with a section dedicated to world travel, entitled “Cinemobile.” 

Go to and click on “English Version” in the top, left hand corner and hover over the “Historical Archive” dropdown menu and choose from “Film” or “Photographic” archive and then explore! Click here to view one of my favorite film menus on the site... a treasure trove of documentaries made between the 1930s and 1960s. Click here to see gorgeous, rare photos of silent film actress and producer, Francesca Bertini.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Paolo Sorrentino to Make Autobiographical Film for Netflix in Naples

Paolo Sorrentino recently revealed in an interview with Dagospia that he will be making an autobiographical film for Netflix about his childhood, falling in love with cinema and his journey to becoming a director. The film will be set in the neighborhood of Vomero where Sorrentino spent time as a child and adolescent. Longtime collaborator Nicola Giuliano is attached to the project. There are no other details available. We'll keep you updated when we learn more. In the meantime, click here to read my interview with Sorrentino.


Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Brothers Damiano D'Innocenzo and Fabio D'Innocenzo Present New Film in Berlin

Damiano D'Innocenzo and Fabio D'Innocenzo are at the Berlin Festival presenting their follow up to the widely successful La terra dell'abbastanza (Boys Cry). Elio Germano stars in Favolacce (Bad Tales), a dark tale set in a small community where a seemingly normal world is silently festering with the sadism of fathers and the anger of diligent, desperate children. 

The Berlin Film Festival's description is as follows... "The sweltering summer heat beats down on a sterile residential estate in the suburbs of Rome. Many a family lives here that no longer belongs anywhere. There is a mysterious sense of unease that can explode at any moment. Parents are constantly frustrated because they are not from a better suburb, and the kind of middle-class life they had hoped for is beyond their reach. But their children are the real protagonists of the shock wave that propels the entire estate towards collapse. The D’Innocenzo brothers, whose first feature film La terra dell’abbastanza was one of the discoveries of the 2018 Panorama, have created a wild and astonishingly mature film that combines the bitterness of Kurt Vonnegut’s vision of America with the kind of folksy, humane sense of irony familiar to us from the work of Sergio Citti. An almost atavistic rage glimmers in the relationships and events portrayed in the directors’ rigorous mise-en-scène. An unreliable narrator guides us, sweetly and sarcastically, through this dark fairy tale. A story about women and men who see their hopes and dreams falling by the wayside all too soon."

We'll keep you updated on when the film will be available stateside.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Gianni Di Gregorio's New Film and Ennio Fantastichini's Last Role

Gianni Di Gregorio's Lontano Lontano (Citizens of the World) premiered at the Torino Film Festival in November and opened in Italy on February 20. The film marks Ennio Fantastichini's last role. The actor passed away on December 1, 2018.

Lontano Lontano follows three Italians in their seventies, all dealing with their own problems, who suddenly decide to quit their community life to settle abroad. The Professor, retired after teaching Latin his whole life, is getting bored. Giorgetto, one of the last true Romans, struggles every month to make ends meet. Attilio, a hippie antique dealer, wants to experience the emotions of his youth again. The only decision is where to settle.

Inspired by conversations which led to the publication of the anthology Stories from the Eternal City, Gregorio cowrote the screenplay and made sure to pay homage to his beloved hometown of Rome. We'll keep you posted on the film's availability in the U.S. Perhaps this one will make it to Open Roads: New Italian Cinema in June!

Flavio Bucci 1947 - 2020

Flavio Bucci has passed away. Bucci was a masterful character actor who rose to fame in the late 1970s with roles in Dario Argento’s Suspiria and the successful television series Ligabue and Martin Eden. He worked steadily through the decades dividing his time between the stage, film and television. 

In 2008, he played the role of Franco Evangelisti in Paolo Sorrentino’s Il Divo and in 2016, starred in Antonio Andrisani and Pascal Zullino’s satire shot in Matera, Il vangelo secondo Mattei. I met him in 2015 while he was shooting that film. We met at a cafe with the crew and he seemed so happy with his aperitivo being adored by these young filmmakers who were so honored to have this maestro in their film. 

In 2018, those filmmakers along with Marco Caldoro and Riccardo Zinna, made a documentary film about Bucci’s life that premiered at the 2018 Rome Film Festival. The film, Flavioh, is a labor of love by a group of filmmakers paying homage to one of their idols. Click here to read my interview with Caldoro about this documentary film. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Three Italian Films in the Lineup of the 2020 Berlin Film Festival

Elio Germano in Hidden Away
Three additional Italian films have been named in the official lineup of The 2020 Berlin Film Festival and actor Elio Germano stars in two of them.

Bad Tales (Favolacce)
Italy / Switzerland
by Damiano & Fabio D’’Innocenzo
with Elio Germano, Barbara Chichiarelli, Lino Musella, Gabriel Montesi, Max Malatesta
World premiere

Italy / Germany / Mexico
by Abel Ferrara
with Willem Dafoe, Dounia Sichov, Simon McBurney, Cristina Chiriac
World premiere

Hidden Away (Volevo nascondermi)
by Giorgio Diritti
with Elio Germano
World premiere

Faith di Valentina Pedicini

Here is the complete list of Italian productions...

La casa dell'amore by Luca Ferri: Forum
Cesare deve morire by Paolo Taviani, Vittorio Taviani: On Transmission
Faith di Valentina Pedicini: Berlin Critics' Week
Favolacce by Damiano D'Innocenzo, Fabio D'Innocenzo: Competition
Palazzo di Giustizia by Chiara Bellosi: Generation 14plus
Pinocchio by Matteo Garrone: Berlinale Special Gala
Progresso renaissance by Marta Anatra: Generation 14plus
The Queen by Stephen Frears: Homage and Honorary Golden Bear for Helen Mirren
Semina il vento by Danilo Caputo: Panorama
Siberia by Abel Ferrara: Competition
Sole by Carlo Sironi: On Transmission
Volevo Nascondermi by Giorgio Diritti: Competition
Zeus machine. L'invincibile by David Zamagni, Nadia Ranocchi: Forum

In addition, a digitally restored version of Fellini’s Il bidone (The Swindle) will be shown to mark the maestro's 100th birth year and Matteo Garrone's Pinocchio will be shown in the Panorama section. The Berlin Film Festival will be held February 20 - March 1. Click here for more information.

Antonietta De Lillo's 'The Remains of Nothing' Available to Stream Until April 11

Antonietta De Lillo's 2005 film made its North American premiere that year at Lincoln Center's annual film series, Open Roads: New...