Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Comedy and Tragedy of a Neapolitan Genius

On the occasion of Italy's mega-broadcast of numerous films by its beloved, Totò, we take a look at the life and career of Napoli's comic genius.

His birth name was Antonio De Curtis, but the world knows him best as Totò, the Neapolitan comedian whose distinctive face and nutty ways made him one of the most popular Italian film stars in history.

Totò was born on February 15, 1898 in Rione Sanità, a poor area of Naples. As a boy, he had a passion for sports. Legend has it that a nose injury caused by a football or boxing match gave him his signature look that played a major role in the personality of his characters. In 1917, Totò started acting locally in Napoli's "comedia dell'arte" and wrote poetry in his dialect. In the early 20's, he headed to

A scene from Pasolini's "Uccellacci e uccellini"
Rome. Upon his arrival, he enjoyed performing in big theatres working in "avanspettacolo", a vaudeville show that combined music, ballet and comedy. He mastered the genre and in the 30’s, founded his own company and took it on the road. Not long after, he tackled the big screen and went on to appear in more than 100 films. Among his most acclaimed movies are I ladri, Totò e le donne, Totò e Cleopatra and Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Uccellacci e uccellini.

Totò with Liliana Castagnola
Although Totò was at top of his career, his personal life was another story. Shortly after working in Roman theatres, he met a woman named Liliana Castagnola. The two lived together for some time.  After he reportedly left to take a part up north, Castagnola committed suicide. A few years later, he met a woman, Diana Bandini Rodigliani with whom he had a daughter. He named the baby girl Liliana after Castagnola. He married Diana in 1934 or 1935 (various dates have been given), but the marriage ended in 1940 when he filed for divorce on the grounds of her infidelity. The two managed to live together for the sake of their daughter, but they were each free to have other relationships. Some years later, Totò met actress, Silvana Pampanini on the set of, "47 Morto Chi Parla."  At the same time this new relationship was blooming, his live-in ex-wife Diana accepted a marriage proposal from a lawyer. Totò was hurt and wrote the song Malafemmina (the bad girl), which has been called “a declaration of love and hate to his first wife.”

L to R- Liliana De Curtis, Totò and Franca Faldini
Totò’s next and final relationship was with Franca Faldini. It was “amore a prima vista” or love at first sight in 1951 when he saw her photo on the cover of an Italian magazine. She was 21 and he was 53. They secretly wed in Switzerland in 1954 and later that year, Franca gave birth to their son Massenzio. It was a hard labor and Franca nearly lost her life. The couple’s son sadly did not make it, and passed away a few hours after being born. Totò of course was devastated and threw himself into his work. But in 1956, it caught up with him when he suffered a serious bout of bronchitis. That would mark the beginning of his brave and difficult battle with his health. Then on April 15, 1967, Totò passed away. He spoke his last words to his wife, Franca Faldini, who has been called the true love of his life. He said, "I've loved you very much Franca, very much."

According to the website, www.antoniodecurtis.com, several of Totò's films will be broadcast on Italian television this week. The broadcasts will begin on 30 November with Destinazione Piovarolo. For more information, and a complete schedule, go to http://www.antoniodecurtis.com/tv.htm.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

7 Days - 7 Women: The Art of Antonella Cappuccio


The final day of our week-long series, 7 Days - 7 Women brings us to visual artist, Antonella Cappuccio.

Have you ever had the experience of meeting someone briefly, and they made such an impression on you that for years later, you still think about them? Well I had that experience with a beautiful artist, inside and out, named Antonella Cappuccio. Her art was exhibited in 2009 at The Knights of Columbus Museum in Conneticut. I had received the invitation, and proceeded to do some research to see if it was worth making the 8-hour roadtrip from Upstate New York. Through my research, I discovered she was the mother of two of my favorite filmmakers, Silvio and Gabriele Muccino. So, I had to go, if only to meet their mother.

When I arrived, I met the artist, a lovely, warm woman who really did seem like a mom. She had a very down-to-earth, humble quality as she answered my questions and posed for pictures with me. She is soft-spoken and attentive; someone you can really talk to. She makes you feel like you've known her for years. So when I saw her work, I was totally blown away. Her art is huge, loud and emotional. It's filled with rich colors and characters that appear to look right through your soul. Some pieces are simple and contemporary while others are detailed with echos of Botticelli. Her work is versatile, and no two pieces are alike.  She is renowned for her papal portraits and has been commissioned to created these divine, larger-than-life works of modern day pontiffs.

Cappuccio's Exhibit at the Nights of Columbus Museum
Antonella Cappuccio was born on the beautiful island of Ischia near Naples. However, she says that she was born twice. The second time being while she studied art and design with costume designers, Maria Baronj and Dario Cecchi. Under their direction and influence, Cappuccio laid the foundation to become the talented artist she is today. It was a step-by-step process that took her from movie sets to the stage to the art studio.

Despite the unfortunate rift between Silvio and Gabriele, you cannot deny the talent of the two brothers, whether they are working together or independently. They are deeply gifted artists and storytellers whose work I had admired and written about for years. Meeting their mother made it all come full-circle for me, and it's an experience that I'm grateful to have had and that I will never forget.

For more information about Antonella Cappuccio, visit her online at www.antonellacappuccio.net.

Monday, November 10, 2014

7 Days - 7 Women: Interview with Actress, Sabrina Impacciatore

On Day 6 of our series, 7 Days - 7 Women, in which we are profiling seven strong, talented women working as filmmakers, writers or visual artists, we talk with actress, Sabrina Impacciatore about the versatility of her career.

I was recently asked, of all the Italian filmmakers that I have interviewed, which was my favorite. It's something that I never really thought about because each filmmaker and each interview is unique in its own special way. So it made me ponder and think about all of the amazing, talented filmmakers that I have interviewed over the last seven years.  I have really enjoyed talking with the maestros like Carlo Verdone, Franco Battiato and Silvio Orlando, but I can remember one in particular that I really enjoyed perhaps because the actress was my age, spoke perfect English and just made our interview feel like a conversation with an old friend. That actress is Sabrina Impacciatore.

She's got that classic Italian beauty; long dark hair, big brown eyes, full lips and flawless skin but Sabrina Impacciatore doesn't rely on her good looks to get her through life. She is a hard-working, articulate actress who is always in search of new challenging rolls as she strives tirelessly to perfect her craft.

Whether she's playing a devoted mother trying to protect her child, Jesus Christ's "Veronica" in Mel Gibson's controversial film, "Passion of the Christ" or a young woman coming of age, Sabrina Impacciatore escapes into the life and mind of each character she takes on, sometimes so deeply that she believes she is actually them.  It's a fine line between reality and fiction, but Sabrina treads it carefully and anyone watching her performance benefits from her emotional connection with the character that she becomes.

I spoke with Sabrina Impacciatore at the Open Roads: New Italian Film Festival in New York City.  So I thought in honor of that pondering question, I would revisit our interview.  We talked about her lifelong dream of becoming an actress and she also gave me some insight into the differences between Italian cinema and American cinema.  Having worked with top directors on both sides of the Atlantic, she has firsthand knowledge of the topic.

Did you grow up wanting to be an actress?
Always! I was 4 years old when I realized that I wanted to be an actress, but then when I grew up, I thought that I wasn't beautiful enough, I wasn't good enough. So I started to go against this dream by studying other stuff like marketing and advertising but at the same time, I started to study acting. I thought, 'This is going to be my hobby.'  I'm never going to make a career out of it. So I did other things, and I worked behind the scenes in television.  I assisted in writing scripts, and then I was asked to audition with the material that I wrote.  I was scared but one day, I just felt in my stomach that I had to try because that was my dream and I thought that if I didn't try, I would regret it and be unhappy for the rest of my life, and now I'm so happy to be living my dream!

You had a key role in L'Ultimo Bacio one of the most successful films in Italian cinematic history.  Tell me about the professional road you traveled to get an opportunity like that.
Well I started very young. I was 16 when I began working in theatre. Then shortly after, came television shows. I discovered that I could write comedy, so I auditioned for a tv show and started to work as a comedian in television.  I did that for  8 or 9 years, but then I started to feel like I was in a cage and I wanted to change because even though being a comic is really nice, you get tired of it and you want to do something else, you want to explore.  In Italy, they have the tendency to give you a definition and it's very difficult to get out of that sort of stereotype. Then, finally a director, Ettore Scola, who was a master of Italian cinema in the 60's, saw me on stage and asked me to audition for his film, Concorrenza sleale.  I got the part and made my first movie in 2000 with Gérard Depardieu, and then like one month later, Gabriele Muccino called me for an audition and I made "L'Ultimo Bacio" with him.  It was just my second movie, but it's the movie that changed my life.  It was very successful.  So I decided not to work in television anymore because at that moment, Italian directors were pretty snobbish against tv actors.  I said no to television and I started to work only on feature films.  In my latest movie, Baciami Ancora, the sequel to, L'Ultimo Bacio, it feels weird to go back to those characters after 10 years. Gabriele Muccino came to America to shoot two movies with Will Smith, The Pursuit of Happiness and Seven Pounds, and we thought that we would never work with him again because we thought, 'Ok now he's gone to Hollywood and he's never going to come back,' but when he did, we were so happy!

You played the role of Veronica in The Passion of the Christ.  What was it like to work with Mel Gibson?
I completely fell in love with Mel Gibson because I like the fact that on the set, he is like a little kid.  For example, when he explained to the actors how to fall because Christ fell seven times, Mel Gibson took the cross on his shoulders and he literally fell down.  He did everything with so much passion.  He was so focused every second on what he wanted.  He was so inspired.  On the set, there was this incredible atmosphere.  Instead of acting, I felt like I was living that experience.  I believed that he was Jesus Christ and I was Veronica.  I know that sounds crazy.  It is crazy!  However, when I saw the movie and I saw my scenes, I realized that I was indeed living an experience, not just acting.  That makes such a difference because as an actress, I do this job to escape from reality, to escape from my life and I want to take a trip, and I accomplished all of that with Mel Gibson in another dimension, and this gives value to my work.

How do you think Italian cinema differs from American cinema, since you have worked on both sides?
Well, American cinema is for dreaming and Italian cinema is for looking at reality. American cinema is a huge industry. In Italy, we don't have much money and the government doesn't help us.  They continue to cut financing for cinema. Aside from money, here in America, you have really great artists like Martin Scorsese, Tim Burton, Paul Thomas Anderson, David Lynch and many others.  It's just another world. With American cinema, you can really let yourself dream. A director can have the freedom to imagine something out of this world, like with James Cameron.  In Italy, directors can't really dream. They have to think about how much money they have.  So the dream is smaller. You can't dream big if you don't have big money. 

What are the roles being offered to women in Italy right now?  Are they interesting characters?
No not really, to be honest. I think it's because in most cases, men are writing about women and creating these female characters, and men just can't understand how complex a woman is, so they are writing these supporting roles, like the mother or wife of the main character.  It's rare to find a good, complex, well-rounded female character, and this is something that we actresses suffer from. There are so few roles and it's difficult to find the main role interesting as a woman.  And it's also difficult to find roles that are both dramatic and funny at the same time. This is usually just reserved for men, whereas an actress can play a very beautiful woman but not a woman who can go back and forth between comedy and drama the way life actually plays out. In the 60's there were these wonderful roles played by actresses like Monica Vitti, Anna Magnani and Mariangela Melato. They were more interesting.  Now, there are only some exceptions.  Sometimes you find a role like that, but it's really rare. It happens once every two or three years.

What is your dream?
My dream is to spend my entire life being an actress, and my dream is to become one of the best Italian actresses ever!  I don't care about money or being recognized or being popular.  That is all secondary. To me, what is important and what gives me joy and happiness is to simply play a character.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Marco Leonardi Set to Take America by Storm Once Again



And the date is April 10, 2015! The Hollywood Reporter announced in November that Francesco Munzi's latest film, "Anime nere" will be distributed in North America by Rialto distribution company. The film was a hit at the Venice and Toronto film festivals.

In Munzi's, "Anime nere," Marco Leonardi heads the cast in telling the story of a Calabrian criminal family whose laws of blood and vendetta take precedence over everything. It's the story of three brothers, the sons of a shepherd, close to the 'Ndrangheta, and of their divided soul. Luigi, the youngest, is an international drug dealer. Rocco, Milanese by adoption and a member of the middle class, runs a business funded by his brother's ill-gotten gains. Luciano, the oldest, cherishes the pathological illusion of a preindustrial Calabria, conducting a gloomy and solitary dialogue with the deads. Leo, his twenty-year-old son, represents the lost generation, without an identity. All he has inherited from his forebears is hatred. As a result of a trivial quarrel he carries out an act of intimidation against a bar under the protection of the rival clan. Anywhere else it would have been no more than a prank. Not in Calabria. It's the spark that sets off a blaze. Luciano finds himself in the same predicament as at the time his father was killed many years earlier. In a dimension suspended between the archaic and the modern the characters are drawn into the archetypes of tragedy.


Marco Leonardi


Leonardi in "Cinema Paradiso"
The world is yours. I don't want to hear you talk anymore. I want to hear others talk about you" ... compelling words from one of the most memorable films in the history of cinema. Marco Leonardi is renowned for his role as the teenage Toto in Giuseppe Tornatore's Oscar Winner, "Cinema Paradiso." The film put Leonardi on the map and made him one of the most sought after actors of his generation.

Born in Australia in 1971, Marco Leonardi has quite an impressive resume with more than two dozen films under his belt. Audiences all around the globe have watched his prolific career through the years. He's become a leading man with a vast range, taking on complicated, diverse roles.


With Marco Leonardi in Toronto, Canada
Marco Leonardi has worked with some of the top names in the industry as well as those just starting out. He's proved he has the versatility to work on an action-packed film with special effects and also to nail those character-driven dramas that reel us right into the character's life and struggles.

In some scenes, it's as if his character is carrying the world's problems on his shoulders, and by witnessing the torment on his face, you feel the heavy burden as it pours from his eyes. He's gone back and forth between television and film, mostly working in Italy these days. When he takes on a role, he whole-heartedly becomes that character, whether he's playing a lover or a fighter.

Because of Marco Leonardi's international appeal, many of his films are available in the U.S. In 2002, the director's cut of "Cinema Paradiso" was released. The version put to rest some questions that were left unanswered in the film. However, there were also a couple scenes that were better left on the cutting room floor. In the end, I do recommend it if you really love the film ... and who doesn't!

It's no doubt that audiences will welcome Marco Leonardi again with open arms at theaters across North America.

7 Days - 7 Women: Valeria Bruni Tedeschi

On Day 5 of our week-long series, 7 Days - 7 Women, in which we are profiling seven strong, talented women working as filmmakers, writers or visual artists, we take a look at the career of actress and director, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi.

Valeria Bruni Tedeschi is a familiar face and respected actress in Italy. Until now, Americans haven't had the chance to see her work. But the tides are changing and Bruni Tedeschi is slowly but surely making her way to North American shores.

Born in Torino in 1964, Bruni Tedeschi comes from a talented, affluent family. Her sister is the model, actress, singer and former first lady of France, Carla Bruni. Her mother, Marisa Borini is a concert pianist and her father, Alberto Bruni Tedeschi is a classical composer, while her grandfather, Virginio Bruni Tedeschi, founded the giant Italian tire manufacturing company CEAT in the 1920's. Bruni Tedeschi left Torino at a young age and grew up in France. Her family left Italy in the 70's to escape the kidnapping threat during that the time by the Red Brigades. The kidnappings were actually the subject of Gabriele Salvatores 2003 film, Io non ho paura (I'm Not Scared) in which the child of a wealthy Northern family was abducted and hidden in the south until his family paid a hefty ransom.

Read my profile on Carla Bruni

Bruni Tedeschi has worked on both sides of the camera, as an actress and as a director. She is very private about her personal life and has been known to get up and walk out of an interview if a journalist pursues questions unrelated to the current movie she is promoting. However that tone seemed to change with her 2007 film, A Castle in Italy. The story is a personal tale which recounts difficult moments in her life, including her devoted relationship to her brother, who passed away in 2006 from complications associated with AIDS, her own struggles in wanting a child but being unable to conceive, giving up the last memory of her deceased father and the pressure of her family's wealth, especially when things aren't always what they seem. The film won awards at film festivals all over the world, including the Prix Spécial du Jury at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.

Read about her directorial effort that screened in New York

A scene from "Il capitale umano"
Speaking of competition, this year she has another film in competition, perhaps the biggest competition of all: the Oscar. Her latest blockbuster, Paolo Virzì’s Il capitale umano (Human Capital) is Italy's submission for the Academy Awards, and  premiered to a sold-out theater earlier this year at the Tribeca Film Festival.  Hailed by critics, the film spotlights the contemporary Italian family and the emphasis on social status and net worth. Based on Stephen Amidon’s novel, the story follows two families whose lives are intertwined by an automobile accident. The film earned honors in the festival's World Narrative Competition with top prize for Best Actress in a Narrative Feature Film going to Bruni Tedeschi for her portrayal of Carla Bernaschi. Il capitale umano has had a whirlwind of international distribution and is currently making its way through film festivals throughout the world.

A scene from Viva la libertà
Her 2013 film, Viva la libertà has just been distributed in the United States. The comedy/drama directed by Roberto Andò stars Toni Servillo of Oscar Winner, The Great Beauty. It's a thought-provoking film with great dialogue and comedy. It will make you laugh one minute and reflect on your life the next. Bruni Tedeschi plays the role of an ex-love that offers the lead character refuge from the pressure of a public political campaign. It's a beautiful tale bringing together the past and the present. The unofficial North American premier took place in June at Lincoln Center's annual film series Open Roads: New Italian Cinema. It was a crowd-pleaser, and Roberto Andò was on hand for a Q&A session after the film. It has won a bunch of awards including the Nastro d'Argento and the David di Donatello for Best Script and the David di Donatello for Best Supporting Actor, Valerio Mastandrea.

Check out my interview with Valerio Mastandrea

Bruni Tedeschi is known for her raw, passionate style of acting. That's what makes her a hit in both Italy and France. Her dramatic roles are unique to the French because their style of acting is more refined than that of the Italians. She goes back and forth between French and Italian productions and has won awards for her work in both countries. 

7 days, 7 women
Veronica De Laurentiis
Gina Lollobrigida
Vicki Vasilopoulos
Maria Sole Tognazzi
Antonella Cappuccio
Sabrina Impacciatore






Thursday, November 6, 2014

7 Days - 7 Women: Vicki Vasilopoulos


On Day 4 of our week-long series, 7 Days - 7 Women, in which we will profile seven strong, talented women working as filmmakers, writers or visual artists, we spotlight the passion and determination of documentary filmmaker, Vicki Vasilopoulos.

She's not actually Italian, but we're going to make an exception for Vicki Vasilopoulos because she devoted more than a decade of her life raising funds to tell the stories of three Italian master tailors who made their passion their life. When I interviewed her a few years ago while she was tirelessly fundraising for the film, she told me that her goal was to honor the legacy of these master tailors for a younger generation.


For 11 years, Greek-American filmmaker and journalist, Vicki Vasilopoulos labored over a documentary recounting the travails of three master tailors of Italian origin. All those years of hard work and dedication finally paid off. Vasilopoulos completed "Men of the Cloth" and it won a coveted spot at DOC NYC, the largest documentary film festival In America.

According to Vasilopoulos, are three main characters in the documentary:  two of them are Italian-American and one of them is Italian. She met the first, Checchino Fonticoli, when she traveled to Italy on a reporting trip during her tenure as a fashion editor for the men's newsmagazine, DNR. Checchino was the head designer and master tailor at Brioni when she toured the factory and tailoring school in Penne, Italy. That encounter sowed the seeds of the film.

About a year later, she scouted the tailoring terrain in the United States, finding Nino Corvato in New York City and Joe Centofanti in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. Both are considered masters of their trade. Incredibly compelling and sympathetic, their magnetic personalities are what led Vasilopoulos to add them to the documentary. In addition to being superior tailors, they have great personal stories and an amazing passion for their craft. They are also articulate, a quality Vasilopoulos finds crucial in communicating their message to the audience.

Men of the Cloth is a human story, and that's what makes it universal. The film demystifies their complex artistry, showing how they craft a garment so that it moves and breathes with the person who is wearing it. The film highlights the experiences of these master tailors as immigrant artisans in the United States, and the challenges they face in the twilight of their career. Vasilopoulos was driven to make the film by a desire to honor their legacy and preserve it for future generations of tailors. 

Men of the Cloth presents a portrait of these artisans over the course of several years. The film has a poetic, nostalgic tone. All of their journeys begin in Italy, where they were born and learned their trade. Their passion and pride is akin to a religion, and thoroughly Italian. 

For more information about the film, visit its website at  http://menoftheclothfilm.com.

Click here to read my interview with Vicki Vasilopoulos. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

7 Days - 7 Women: Gina Lollobrigida


On Day 3 of our week-long series, 7 Days - 7 Women, in which we are showcasing seven strong, talented women working as filmmakers, writers or visual artists, we celebrate the forceful, creative energy of living legend Gina Lollobrigida.

She has been called the most beautiful woman in the world and at 87 years old, she is still a sight to behold as all that outer beauty mirrors the talent and inner beauty of this true, complete artist.

Gina Lollobrigida, the iconic actress, the photojournalist and the sculptress, was born Luigina Lollobrigida on the 4th of July, 1932  in Subiaco, Italy,  a town located in the Province of Rome, near the picturesque tourist destination of Tivoli. Adored by fans all over the world, Lollobrigida has worked with some of the biggest names in Hollywood including Humphrey Bogart, Rock Hudson, Frank Sinatra, Anthony Quinn and Shelly Winters. She acted opposite Bob Hope in his 1968 comedy, The Private Navy of Sgt. O'Farrell and even joined him on one of his many visits to the military troops overseas.

Lollobrigida and Bogart
Like many of her Italian screen siren counterparts, Lollobrigida got her start in local beauty contests and from there went into modeling before trying her hand at acting. In 1946, she made her onscreen debut with a small role in Riccardo Freda's Aquila Nera (Return of the Black Eagle) starring the endearing Gino Cervi, grandfather of actress, Valentina Cervi. After that, it was one film after another for Lollobrigida. Then in 1953, she made her Hollywood debut in John Huston's, Beat the Devil with Humphrey Bogart and Jennifer Jones. Her role as Maria Dannreuther caught the attention of American audiences and she became an instant Hollywood star. Just two years later, she was nicknamed, "The Most Beautiful Woman in the World," with the release of her trademark movie, La donna più bella del mondo (Beautiful But Dangerous), in which she played the infamous role of Lina Cavalieri, the Italian peasant who becomes a world-renowned opera singer. She costarred with the equally iconic Vittorio Gassman and Robert Alda. Lollogrigida actually did her own singing in this film while maestro, Mario Bava, created a rich feast for our eyes with his decadent cinematography.


A scene with Vittorio Gassman from La donna più bella del mondo 
Gina Lollobrigida went on to appear in a whirlwind of hit films including Carol Reed's circus drama, Trapeze with Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis in 1956 and also that year, starred in Jean Delannoy's The Hunchback of Notre Dame with Anthony Quinn. In 1959 she co-starred with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Steve McQueen, Peter Lawford and Charles Bronson in the warfare drama, Never So Few. She worked non-stop throughout the 60's but started to slow down a bit in the 70's and thereafter. She's entertained a number of different projects in the years following her cinema heyday including politics in which she actually ran for one of Italy's European Parliament seats from her hometown of Subiaco. She pursued her interest in photojournalism and shot a number of interesting personalities including Paul Newman, Salvador Dalí and Fidel Castro. 

Lollobrigida with her sculpture, "Living Together"
During the last decade, she has become a talented sculptress, creating larger than life figures in her Roman studio. Many of her works possess a quality that seems to be in motion, like they are dancing with their fabrics are flowing in the wind. Perhaps that quality represents her own free spirit. In an interview with Parade Magazine, she revealed her true passion as an artist. "I studied painting and sculpting at school and became an actress by mistake." 

Gina Lollobrigida is forever emblazoned in the hearts of admirers all over the world and we are still enjoying the eternal talents of this classic symbol of grace and style as her zest for life continues to this day. 

Thanks to Lollobrigida's vast international success, many of her films are still available today. Amazon is a great source that has currently carries a wide range of her films. You can also visit her online at www.ginalollobrigida.com.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

7 Days - 7 Women: Maria Sole Tognazzi

On Day 2 of our week-long series, 7 Days - 7 Women, in which we are profiling seven strong, talented women working as filmmakers, writers or visual artists, we take a look at the career of film director, Maria Sole Tognazzi.

Born in 1971, Tognazzi is no stranger to the entertainment industry. Her father is the legendary comedy actor, Ugo Tognazzi, who was one of the most prominent players in the Commedia all'Italiana genre of Italian cinema. Maria Sole Tognazzi is the youngest of four children and took a slightly different path than her siblings. Unlike her brothers, Gianmarco and Ricky, who are both successful actors in Italy, Maria prefers to stay behind the camera. 

She started her career by working as an assistant director, and made a series of video clips that poised her for the debut of her first short film in the late 90's, Non finisce qui.  Her follow up to that film, C'ero anch'io set the foundation for her first feature-length film, the ensemble comedy, Passato prossimo. The cast boasts some pretty big names including her brother, Gianmarco along with now-A-listers, Paola Cortellesi, Valentina Cervi, Pierfrancesco Favino and Claudio Santamaria.

In 2008, she worked with Pierfrancesco Favino once again on the romance-drama, L'uomo che ama (The Man Who Loves). The unique plot in this movie is how it shows love and loss from the point of view of a man. The man was being left and dealing with heartbreak, when so often we see the woman in this role. The film opened the 2008 Rome Film Festival and also opened to rave reviews in New York City at Lincoln Center's annual Italian film series, Open Roads: New Italian Cinema.

In 2010, her documentary Ritratto di mio padre (Portrait of My Father) premiered at the Rome Film Festival. Among many unique elements, the documentary features home videos showing an adoring family and their beloved patriarch, with accounts by her siblings and close friends of the family. Appropriately titled, Tognazzi, really does present a beautiful, loving portrait of her father.

Click here to watch the trailer for "Ritratto di mio padre"

Margherita Buy in a scene from Viaggio sola
Her third feature film, Viaggio sola stars leading lady, Margherita Buy as Irene, a hotel professional and single 40-something who makes her living inspecting luxury hotels. Irene is surrounded by luxury, and comes and goes as she pleases, but all of her experiences are had alone. It is a story of courage and independence, presenting the positive and negative side of living an independent life, not giving in to the stereotypical expectations of society. 

Ginevra Elkann's 'Magari' to Open the 2019 Locarno Film Festival

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