Monday, April 25, 2016
Everywhere you turn in Italy, there is history. Every town you visit has its own story just waiting to be told. Every step you take has been taken for thousands of years. So when I visited the seaside town of Anzio and noticed a memorial stone written in English, I knew that I was about to learn something fascinating. The stone reads as follows:
THE 6TH (BANFFSHIRE)
BATTALION THE GORDON
TO THE MEMORY OF
THOSE WHO GAVE THEIR
LIVES ON THE ANZIO
22 JANUARY – 4 JUNE 1944
The Battle of Anzio began in January of 1944 when Allied forces landed on the shores of neighboring seaside towns, Anzio and Nettuno. “Operation Shingle” was aimed at defeating German forces in the area. Initially, the attack was indeed a surprise and the allied forces were able to move inland. But shortly thereafter, the German forces regrouped moving every available troop to higher ground, with a clear view of the allied positions. What followed was one of the deadliest battles of World War II, lasting a grueling four months.
The battle is memorialized in the 1968 movie titled “Anzio,” starring Robert Mitchum and Peter Falk. Although the film doesn’t focus as directly on the battle as might expect, it’s entertaining, suspenseful drama that covers the basics before taking you through the war-torn Italian countryside in pursuit of its two main characters, played by Mitchum and Falk. It was a pleasure to see these two iconic actors together in their younger days. Though hardened by war, the brotherhood between the two characters is strong, and it doesn’t take long to connect with them.
Adapted from the book “Anzio” by Wynford Vaughan-Thomas, the BBC war correspondent at the battle, the film was made in Italy with an Italian film crew and produced by the legendary Dino DeLaurentis. A joint Italian/American project, it was directed by Edward Dmytryk and Duilio Coletti. The film is available on Amazon.
Thursday, April 21, 2016
|Cristian Piazza, Photo by Patrik Andersson|
|Opera Singer Paolo Buffagni|
|Cristian Piazza discussing "Waiting"|
Monday, April 18, 2016
|With Checco Zalone at the ICFF press conference in Toronto|
A few years later, he landed a spot on the television variety show, Zelig and his career in comedy took off. In 2009, he made his first feature film, "Cado delle nubi" (Fall from the Clouds). Directed by Nunziante, Zalone plays a down-on-his-luck dreamer, just dumped by his girlfriend and dealing with the political incorrectness of accepting the fact that his cousin is gay.
|Gennaro Nunziante at the ICFF press conference|
"Quo vado?" was the first of Checco Zalone's films I've seen and after seeing it, it became obvious why his films are so popular in Italy. For the first 10 minutes, I did nothing but laugh. The pace is fast moving with joke after joke, many of which poke fun at the stereotypes of the southern Italian culture. If you grew up Italian American or if you have spent time in Italy, you will get the humor right away. With that said, subtitles are needed. There is no way that his films could be understood outside Italy by someone who doesn't speak fluent Italian unless you are watching with subtitles. It's just not possible. The dialogue is quick, sharp and filled with irony and cultural references. Thanks to the ICFF for providing subtitles for the North American audience, the entire theater was roaring with laughter throughout the entire film.
|Gennaro Nunziante and Checco Zalone on the Red Carpet in Toronto|
I attended the press conference in Toronto where the actor appeared with his director and longtime friend Gennaro Nunziante. They were down-to-earth and very accommodating to the room full of press. The journalists were able to ask one question and mine pertained to the comedy genre. Since the duo has clearly mastered the this genre, I wondered if they'd ever venture into different territory.. perhaps drama. Checco Zalone's animated and lengthy answer generated hysteric laughter and in the end, the answer was no. I guess there's no reason to fix what's not broken.
It was just announced that his next film is slated for a 2017 release. We'll keep you posted. In the meantime, read my interview with Stefano Grillo, one of the actors in "Quo vado?" and watch the trailer..
Thursday, April 14, 2016
|"La santa che dorme"|
Below is a list of the Italian films that were named this morning in the lineup of the 17th Edition of the Cannes Film Festival.
- Pericle il Nero di Stefano Mordini: Un Certain Regard
- La Santa che dorme di Laura Samani: Sélection Cinéfondation
- Il Silenzio di Farnoosh Samadi, Ali Asgari: Compétition des courts métrages
- L' Ultima spiaggia di Thanos Anastopoulos, Davide Del Degan: Séances Spéciales
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
I read a quote about Paolo Genovese’s “Perfetti sconosciuti” (Perfect Strangers) - “Un film che rimane impresso, prima nella pancia e poi nella mente.” –A film that remains first in the stomach and then in the mind. That sums up how you will feel upon watching the film. If you’re a filmmaker, you will take it one step further by asking yourself, "Why didn’t I think of that?” This is a universal story, a testament to the times in which we live.
Carlotta (Anna Foglietta) is another David di Donatello nominee. If there is a show-stealer in this film, it is her. Foglietta poured her heart and soul into Carlotta and came alive in this role. Not only is her character entertaining to watch with her attentiveness, gazes and expressions, she is also wise, and after acknowledging that she and her husband have been through hell during the last couple years, makes us ponder the question "Why don't people learn to split up?". It's a good point and makes you think. Speaking to social media and messaging apps, when is the line crossed into infidelity? At what point does a couple throw in the towel and walk away rather than look away?
That is the beauty of this film. It makes you think. Add the totally unexpected ending followed by the beautiful theme song by Fiorella Mannoia and we are reminded once again of the uniqueness, the artistry and the infinite dreams of Italian cinema.
If you are in the New York City area, don't miss this film. Click here to buy tickets.
Watch the video for "Perfetti sconosciuti" by Fiorella Mannoia..
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
The Oeil d’or Award was instigated in 2015 by Scam (the Civil Society of Multimedia Authors) and Julie Bertuccelli, with "the active involvement of the Cannes Film Festival" and in conjunction with the Ina. The accolade serves to single out the best documentary presented in all of the various selections at Cannes (the 69th edition of which will take place from 11-22 May 2016) and will this year be handed out by a jury chaired by Italian director Gianfranco Rosi (winner of the Golden Lion at Venice in 2013 for Sacro GRA and the Golden Bear at Berlin in February for Fire at Sea.
Saturday, April 9, 2016
Friday, April 8, 2016
It's just been announced that the 2018 Los Angeles Festival will pay homage to director Lina Wertmüller with a screening of Behind the White Glasses. Italian American actress Maria Bello is president of this year's edition with Italian actress Maria Pia Calzone as madrina. The festival runs February 25 - March 3. Click here for more information.
Whether you’re referring to her name, her look or her style of filmmaking, Lina Wertmüller stands out in a crowd. Born in Rome in 1926 to a family of Swiss aristocrats, Wertmüller was a rebel at heart. She ignored her father’s pleas to study law and instead enrolled in film school. That choice would eventually land her at the Academy Awards as the first woman director nominated for an Oscar.
|Giancarlo Giannini in "Seven Beauties"|
|A scene from "Love and Anarchy"|
Many of Lina Wertmüller's films are available with subtitles or English dubbing through YouTube, Fandor and Amazon.
Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Many scenes were shot around the city of Matera, located in the region of Basilicata. I spoke with the cinematographer, Michele D'Attanasio about his work on the film and the challenges he faces in staging the high-speed races in the winding ancient roads of Lucania. D’Attanasio has worked on a number of recent Italian blockbusters, including Gabriele Mainetti’s Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot and Edoardo Winspeare’s In grazia di Dio.
Our interview was done in Italian, so both versions are included.
What is the photography process from the beginning to the end of a movie?
Watch the trailer:
After spending so much time on the racetrack circuits, it was very beautiful to be shooting in Basilicata. The director and I lost ourselves in the inspirational places that we found. We discovered these places in which we shot scenes and we gave them nicknames such as lunar and western. Specifically, we shot in a private airport in Pisticci, on a backroad leading to Pisticci Scalo a Pomarico, an overpass behind Craco and in the suburbs of Matera rather than the city's historic center.
The Family whistle will be shown at the 69th Cannes Film Festival on May 19 in the "Classic" section. The Lucana Film Commission will be on hand to present the film along with the director Michele Russo. According to Paride Leporace, the director of the Lucana Film Commission, the film is "an 'epic that from Augustine to Carmine - reaches the last generation of the Coppola family to Sofia through the genius of Francis Ford Coppola, the most famous and influential living testimonial of Basilicata. The film features photography by Basilicata-born Ugo Lo Pinto, who for this work has just won the Indie Spec Best Cinematography Award at the Boston International Film Festival. Furthermore, historical documentaries made in Lucania by Cinematheque. - American Zoetrope and Cultural Ulysses have proved once again, that Basilicata is a land of Cinema internationally recognized."
Directed by Basilicata-born filmmaker Michele Russo, The Family Whistle is the story of the famed Coppola family of filmmakers and musicians that descends from Agostino Coppola, a poor immigrant from Bernalda, an impoverished village in Southern Italy. Interviews and archival footage portray how the family history has inspired these artists, and how they continue to renew their ties to the land of their origin.
The film made its U.S. premiere in April at the Boston International Film Festival and earned an award for its cinematography. It will be available for viewing at Cannes on May 19 at the Majestic Hotel between the hours of 10:30am and 17:30pm in the Italian Pavilion. in addition to the Lucana Film Commission, representatives from the numerous Italian film commissions will be present.
12 Maggio 2016
La Lucana Film Commission, con il patrocinio e il contributo di Sensi Cinema e della Regione Basilicata, sostiene il film “The Family whistle-Il fischio di famiglia”, selezionato al sessantesimo Festival di Cannes nella sezione Classic, organizzando il 19 maggio, giorno della proiezione del documentario, all’Italian Pavillon un incontro di promozione di questo significativo progetto cinematografico.
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
“The Friend” (L'amico)
"Time Zone Inn" (Senza distanza) by Andrea Di Iorio
Lucia Grillo with her vegan cacio pepe at NYC's Osteria 57 One of Italian Cinema Today's frequent collaborators and favorite...