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Monday, August 31, 2015

TIFF15- Federica Foglia's Courageous Plight of Immigration

Federica Foglia posing for a selfie with child refugees
Immigration is a very hot topic across the globe right now. Whether the headline is about young Syrians escaping their war-torn homeland to seek refuge in Europe and build new lives for their families- or the boatloads of North African refugees populating the shores of southern Italy and Lampedusa- or leaders of the United States looking to build a wall at the border of Mexico, it seems that immigration is affecting just about everyone these days.

Indie filmmaker, Federica Foglia, took her own story of immigration and turned it into a film that was selected for the Short Cuts Program of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. Foglia is an Italian who immigrated to Canada. The process of assimilating was not an easy task. So she delve into her love of art and film to set some roots and feel at home. That experience inspired her to make the short film, Exit/Entrance about a young artist who wanders the streets of his new town, exploring the nostalgia he feels for the home he left behind and the desire to belong to the home that he is trying to build.

I spoke with Federica Foglia about the inspiration behind this film and why the topic of immigration is so close to her heart.

What inspired you to tell this story of immigration?
Leaving home, finding my place in a new country, and trying to belong without losing myself. Immigration is not just physical relocation, it's also the process of finding your emotional center. Therefore the title of the short... For three years, I wrote and wrote and wrote many poems, letters and stories that dealt with my feelings of displacement, the way I looked at someone in the street and thought I was seeing my best friend...the brain made this association between familiar faces and foreign physiognomies. You constantly feel in limbo and you miss all the certainties of your old life. You wait and wait till you get an approval for a visa and then in the meanwhile you feel that you don't belong to this new land yet....and that your old homeland is slowly forgetting you. It brings a lot of mental distress. It's the hardest thing I've ever done. This short was my way of getting all the struggles of immigration out. It was my little contribution in raising awareness about what goes on in an immigrants' heart. I hope it will resonate with many people. 

Is it a true story, in a documentary-style?
It's inspired by a true experience, my three years as an "immigrant" in Canada. 
It's not a documentary and it's not an ordinary short for sure. I tried to use symbols, allegories and metaphors to represent a universal state of mind, the state of mind of someone who is in between two or more places, always migrating, and trying to find a way to belong.

In your film, is the subject a clandestine immigrant?
The very act of immigration is clandestine. There is a lot of guilt associated with the decision to leave your land of birth. Nobody wishes to leave their homeland. If we do so, it's because we are not finding the ideal conditions to grow and develop and flourish.

What are the special aspects of your main character, this artist?
The artist is a symbol, a symbol of free expression that is finally dependent on the largesse of others to legitimize their creative spirit. Art is also the "tool" with which I managed to keep myself together during these years away from home. When you are in a place where you have no roots, you hold on to something that you can carry with you and that is part of your heritage. For me that was art, my photography, my writing, films...these are things that are universal and make me feel at home.

As an Italian, what are your thoughts on the illegal immigration crisis.. in particular, the situation with all these boats oversizing lately and lives lost.
It is something that hurts me deeply and that angers me. I am in shock mainly because we are all responsible for this, and yet very few people are proactively doing something to fix the situation. Small humanitarian organizations, especially in Italy, are being an example of generosity, compassion and "pietas" that is very instilled into Italian genes - but this is not enough.
I am amazed how the first world countries can be effective when it comes to "fix" first world problems. I see a lot of hypocrisy and increasingly scary racism as well. My heart is broken - and I am personally feeling ashamed and responsible for this situation and I know I am not doing enough to fix it. When you see dead bodies of kids washed up on the shores by the waves of the ocean, what else is there to say?

How has becoming an immigrant yourself, in Canada, given you insight and/or empathy on this subject?
Coming to Canada was the greatest journey I have ever undertaken. When I first arrived in Toronto, I was very excited and unaware, but then I realized that it was very different than what I expected, maybe because I am a little naive too. The discomfort started growing when I realized how career and job oriented everyone is here, which is great but made me feel as if I was losing my human side. I have to say I also experienced racist comments, because I did not belong here...and I felt marginalized many times. I feel this happened because there is not enough awareness around immigrants in Canada. Canadians should be made aware about the emotional journey of an immigrant and the stress that they undergo. It's not simple and most of the time people think :"Oh well, in your country you had no job and no house. Here you have a house and a job, so what is there to complain about?" But, trust me... that's just the tip of the iceberg. An immigrant brings a lot of emotional distress, a lot of nostalgia, hopes, the desire to belong and be embraced... the melancholy. Their families and birth places are in their heart every single day. So, the next time you face an immigrant, be kind and embrace his/hers challenges. Making this movie has changed, and is changing my perception of Canada though. I am amazed at the number of people that genuinely helped me make this movie. It has been made BY CANADA. Starting with Deepa Mehta and David Hamilton, the professionals at Technicolor, Tattersall sound studio. All these people are huge professionals and they treated me with great respect, willing to mentor and support a young artist. What is great about Canada is that it nourishes and cultivates its talents...and the more ,the merrier. I felt at home finally and I felt that I would never trade this country for any other in the world, despite its many controversies. Also what's great about Canada is that it lets you continue to embrace your indigenous culture while immersing yourself in Canadian culture. For me it's a place where you can still dream and make your dreams happen.

New Director Irene Dionisio Begins Filming First Feature

Cineuropa is reporting that filming has started in Torino for Le ultime cose, the debut film by Irene Dionisio. The film, which tells three stories that intertwine at the ‘Banco dei Pegni’ (the offices of the State moneylender) in modern-day Torino, stars Fabrizio Falco Alfonso Santagata, Christina Andrea Rosamilia, Roberto De Francesco, Maria Eugenia D’Aquino, Salvatore Cantalupo and Anna Ferruzzo.

“One day, around the same time I entered into discussions over my first film with Tempesta, I walked into the Banco dei Pegni and was struck by how meaningful and lively this ‘debt office’ was”, said the director. “I spent a long time exploring the impact of financial pressure on people’s lives. The Banco dei Pegni became a place of observation for me for several months. Through dialogue, the relationships people have with objects and individual stories, I wanted to paint a tragic yet grotesque picture. I hope I have succeeded in my film in making this place into a metaphor for a society built on the eternal conflict between the debtor and creditor”.

“We got in touch with Irene Dionisio after seeing her documentary short La fabbrica è piena and there was an immediate understanding between us that we wanted to work together to recount the present”, said the producer Carlo Cresto-Dina. “Le ultime cose is another Tempesta film, which was born from in-depth research on the ground, fifteen re-writes of the screenplay, and a casting and coaching process which went on for months”.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Italian-Born Director to Represent Germany in Race for the Oscars

Updated 8 March 2016

The new movie by Giulio Ricciarelli, the acclaimed director of Labyrinth of Lies is among seven projects selected by the Italian-German Committee of the Fund for Co-production Development Activities between Italy and Germany. The committee,which convened in Rome on 3 March, evaluated a total of 16 projects: eight were Italian, seven were  German and one was a parity co-production project. See Cineuropa for more information.

A nine-member jury assembled in Munich has selected the German candidate for the nominations for the Oscar for Best Foreign-language Film:  Labyrinth of Lies by Giulio Ricciarelli.

Born in Milan in 1965, Ricciarelli is an actor and producer, known for Rossini (1997), Black Money - Verfilzung... Macht... Korruption (1990) and Und die Braut wusste von nichts (2002). Even though he was born in Italy, he is considered a German filmmaker, as he primarily works in Germany. "Labyrinth of Lies" is his directorial debut.  The film is a drama that deals with the conspiracy among various German institutions to conceal the Auschwitz crimes in the years following the Second World War. Based on true events, "Labyrinth of Lies" tells the story of the efforts of a young and ambitious public prosecutor, played by Alexander Fehling, to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.

After presenting the film at the Zurich Film Festival last year, Ricciarelli spoke to Cineuropa. Here is that interview.

Cineuropa: There are a lot of films that deal with the Second World War, but Labyrinth of Lies shows something different and rather controversial, that is, the period in which most of Germany had no clue what had happened in Auschwitz.
Giulio Ricciarelli:
I wanted to tell an important part of German history that has been forgotten and ignored even by cinema. For a long period of time, Germany tried to deny and forget many crimes, and therefore I wanted to show how a group of individuals had committed itself to changing this situation. I thought this was a story that deserved to be told.
After having started your career as a theatre and television actor, you decided to shoot a couple of short films, and now you have made your feature debut. How did this transition come about?
I have always loved cinema. When I decided to move on to directing – and this was a complex journey – I was not afraid to do that in film rather than with theatre or television, where I had my background and experience. On top of that, I wanted to deal with the project in the simplest way possible, only inserting what was essential to make the audience understand. I had to be very strict with myself, because the plot is really complex.
What made you choose Alexaner Fehling for the role of the lead character?I had seen some of his films, and I was struck by his charm, which was like that of a classic movie star. It is a trait that few actors possess these days, and it was exactly what I was searching for for that character. Besides that, another rather important thing was that he has very “German” features.
Other German productions, such as Downfall and The Lives of Others, have also shown Germany's history from a critical and objective point of view. In your opinion, why are these kinds of German films being appreciated so much by international audiences?I believe that audiences appreciate the fact that some of these films have the courage to deal with political matters in such a determined way, especially in difficult times like the one we are living in now, periods in which the world is struggling with numerous problematic situations. Also, who could possibly be interested in a love story between two German students when that's something that could easily happen anywhere else in the world?
After Toronto, it looks like the title will be distributed in a lot of countries.Besides the German-speaking countries, it will be released in France, Italy and Israel, all of which had already been interested in the film after they watched the trailer, and even before it was screened. Furthermore, Sony Classics expressed an interest in the movie at Toronto, which has helped sales enormously. As things stand, the film will also have a release in Canada, the United States, Australia, Japan and most likely Spain, too.

Watch the trailer with English subtitles..

Schedules and Ticket Info for Italian Films at Toronto International Film Festival

The 40th Toronto International Film Festival will take place September 10-20, 2015. There are seven Italian films that will be shown this year. Below are the show times and links to buy tickets for six of them. We are still waiting for specific info on obtaining tickets for Federica Foglia's "Exit/Entrance", which will be screened in the Short Cuts Program. For now, you can purchase a general festival ticket at the link provided next to the film. Those will go on sale September 6th. You can also follow the film on Twitter.

Marco Bellocchio "Blood of my blood"
September 15 - 7:00 PM
September 17 - 9:00 AM
September 19 - 9:00 PM
Blood Of My Blood is one of strangest and most haunting films in Marco Bellocchio's long and illustrious career. It is, ultimately, unclassifiable, and that is part of what makes it fascinating. It has elements of a vampire film and is set between two very different time periods. Much of it has to do with the Inquisition. It is dark, troubling, enigmatic; a kind of nightmare of interlocking narratives. It also shows that Bellocchio has lost none of his power to surprise, a quality evident in his brilliant Fists in the Pocket, still one of the most impressive first features in the history of cinema. The film opens with some startling imagery. A bearded man arrives at a monastery to find a nun hanging from the ceiling from her feet. Federico Mai (Filippo Timi) has come on a mission: his brother committed suicide and cannot be buried in consecrated ground unless his lover, Sister Benedetta (Alba Rohrwacher), confesses to their sin, thereby saving the dead man's soul. Benedetta is subjected to trials by water and fire and questioning by the apostolic hierarchy, whilst Federico watches — and hopes. Yet his vigil takes a strange turn. Ruptures in time project us into the present day, in which a Russian wants to buy the monastery where Benedetta's torture occurred. Living in the monastery is a strange assortment of people, among them a Count and a woman whose husband has disappeared. But this is just the beginning of the mystery. Blood Of My Blood demands careful attention, for Bellocchio has detailed a labyrinthine story of conspiracy, betrayal, and corruption where the ground under your feet shifts constantly. With this brave and elusive narrative, the director captures the sense that corruption and duplicity are timeless, and that little has changed over the centuries.
Watch trailer, Buy tickets

Piero Messina "The Wait"
September 13 - 3:15 PM
September 15 - 10:30 AM
September 20 - 12:30 PM
Dazzingly shot, wonderfully conceived and executed, The Wait heralds the arrival of a talented new voice. Former assistant director to Paolo Sorrentino (The Great Beauty), Piero Messina shows that he has learned much from working with one of the world's finest contemporary filmmakers. With Sicily as his backdrop, Messina navigates a range of emotions in telling the strange, compelling story of an encounter between two women from two different generations. The Wait begins with the camera sinuously caressing a carving of Christ on the cross, a prefiguring of the tale to follow, a tale of grieving, concealment, and connection. As a house descends into mourning, mirrors draped in black crepe, a young French woman arrives from the mainland by ferry, blissfully unaware of the events that are about to take over her life. Jeanne (Lou de Laâge) is the girlfriend of the son of the family matriarch, Anna (Juliette Binoche), who has never met Jeanne and is surprised by her visit. Anna's son, Giuseppe, is not there; Jeanne calls his cellphone and leaves numerous messages. As Anna and Jeanne await Giuseppe's arrival, they slowly begin to form a friendship. Jeanne, confused and a little mystified at first, gradually gives in to the charms of the island. She swims in the sea and makes friends, while Anna, watched over by a long-time family friend, grows closer to this unexpected guest. Messina's film is, true to its title, all about the wait. But it's also a film about watching and listening. Its mood is contemplative, tentative, made up of discreet scenes of quiet power that gradually coil with the expectation of release. With its carefully measured approach, The Wait will bring to mind some of the most impactful and influential first features of Italian cinema.
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Paolo Sorrentino "Youth"
September 12 - 5:45 PM
September 13 - 10:30 AM
September 18 - 3:00 PM
Two old friends (Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel) reflect on their past, present, and the beauty and absurdity of the world during a vacation in the Swiss Alps, in the lovely and heart-warming new film from Academy Award winner Paolo Sorrentino (The Great Beauty).
Youth is a superb follow-up to Paolo Sorrentino's glorious The Great Beauty, which played the Festival in 2013 before going on to win the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Sorrentino sets his new film against the perfect summery backdrop of the Swiss Alps, in a spa to which several disparate characters have travelled for very different reasons. Forming the spine of Youth is a beautifully expressed relationship between two old friends, both artists, whose life experiences are fodder for reflections on time and aging. Fred (Michael Caine), a retired composer and conductor, has been coming to the resort for decades. Sitting on the immaculate grounds in a comfortable chair, reading his newspaper, he has the air of an Englishman at peace with himself. On the other hand, his bosom buddy Mick (Harvey Keitel), an American filmmaker, is at the spa to finish his new screenplay along with a group of brash young collaborators who banter ideas and dialogue back and forth ceaselessly. The two friends are also in-laws, as Fred's daughter (Rachel Weisz, also appearing at the Festival in The Lobster) is married to Mick's son. As the days pass, they reflect with humour and wisdom on both past and present, on the ways and wiles of the world. Adding colour is a motley collection of eccentrics: actors, models, footballers, and masseuses, whose antics populate the film like musical diversions. Sorrentino has always honoured absurdity, along with a wry sense of the incongruities of modern life. But if Il Divo and The Great Beauty employed excess in order to convey a bewilderment with the world, Youth exists on a different plane, where the depth of ties between families and friends signifies a tender understanding. The anger of Sorrentino's earlier work is replaced with a beautiful note of acceptance, and his assured hand as director bolsters exceptional performances by the stellar cast. The alpine landscape, meanwhile, acts as a silent foil to the dalliances of the mortals who play in its shadows.
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Nanni Moretti "My Mother"
September 13 -  9:45 PM
September 14 -  9:00 AM

Aging and parental death have been at the heart of many recent films but, not surprisingly, the latest work from Nanni Moretti takes a distinctly different approach. If most films dealing with aging and death are sombre and melancholic, My Mother adds large doses of glorious, anarchic comedy. In fact, the film oscillates between extremes, making metaphysical points along the way about how mourning and joy can be inextricably intertwined. The film's story has a clear autobiographical bent: a filmmaker juggles production on a new film with trips to the hospital bedside of a dying mother. But director/​​actor Moretti gives the filmmaker role not to himself, as one might expect, but to the charismatic Margherita Buy. He steps into a secondary role as the brother/​​son who does much of the caregiving while his sister runs between film set and hospital, trying frantically to be both a consummate professional and a dutiful daughter. What also elevates this film into a gentle kind of feminist manifesto is not just Buy's character, but also that of the mother (Giulia Lazzarini), a retired teacher of classical literature. These strong women form the centre of My Mother. Moretti displaces himself further by giving the major male part to John Turturro, who plays the brash, outsized American star of the film-within-a-film with great comic flourish. My Mother finds Moretti at the height of his powers. A comedy-drama inflected with a quiet sense of grief, it's a work that revels in human imperfections — in people who simply can't stop being who they are: selfish and spoilt, yet still very endearing. Moretti celebrates both the best and worst in all of us.
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Pietro Marcello "Lost and Beautiful "
September 15 - 9:45 PM
September 17 - 7:00 PM
Pietro Marcello gained international prominence with his taboo-breaking documentary hybrid La bocca del lupo. His latest film weaves together stirring documentary and archival footage, art-historical references and beguiling fiction as it draws from the true story of a humble shepherd who became a symbol of hope and generosity for a struggling and conflicted country. Popularly known as "the Angel of Carditello," Tommaso Cestrone had volunteered to serve as caretaker of the abandoned Bourbon palace of Carditello in Campania, deep in the heart of the "Land of Fires." Subjected to threats and intimidation from the mafia and frustrating inaction from the Italian government, Tommaso succumbed to a heart attack during the making of Marcello's film, causing a fissure in the footage from which emerges a fable haunted by memory.
Its title referring to the rousing libretto from Verdi's Nabucco ("O my country, so lovely and so lost"), Bella e perduta summons Pulcinella — a mythic Campanian character who often appears in commedia dell'arte — from the bowels of Vesuvius in order to grant Tommaso's last wish: to rescue a young buffalo called Sarchiapone from the former royal palace. As Pulcinella and Sarchiapone embark upon a journey through an Italy atrophying under austerity and mass corruption, the sad-eyed beast — now granted the power of speech — relates his story and that of the castle he guards, which is itself a microcosm of this lost and beautiful land.
Shot on expired 16mm film, Bella e perduta looks and feels like it comes from another era, evoking the fusion of neorealism and fantasy in mid-period Pasolini. In the midst of general despair, Marcello's film argues for meaningful gestures, which can renew our faith in humankind despite the grim realities of the present and the uncertainties of the future.
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Roberto Minervini  "The Other Side"
Sep 10 - 9:15 PM
Sep 12 - 9:00 AM
Sep 20 - 12:30 PM

Roberto Minervini is quickly carving out a considerable reputation with his hybrid form of filmmaking: people essentially play themselves, creating the look and feel of documentary, while the director clearly intervenes to create situations rather than observe them. His work is among the most interesting to emerge from the US in recent years, which may be surprising considering he is an Italian who has decided to poke his camera into the margins of American society. On the heels of his superb trilogy of Texas-based films (The Passage, Low Tide, Stop the Pounding Heart), Minervini moves his focus to Louisiana, where we come face-to-face with a group of people who seem to have stepped out of Deliverance. Faces carry the lines and scars of hard living, clothes are tattered, living conditions are chaotic. Some of his subjects are drug addicts; others are libertarian fanatics who hate the federal government. Yet Minervini finds a compassion and tenderness behind their gruff exteriors. Much of the film focuses on a small-time drug dealer and the girlfriend he lives with (and shoots up with). But, as The Other Side gradually shifts its attention to a group of local militia who are convinced that the feds are on the verge of declaring martial law and taking away their freedom, we are shown a more disturbing image of contemporary America. Sometimes it takes the eye of an outsider to provide a new perspective. Minervini is one such outsider. We feel he is at home with his subjects, as he peers into corners that many Americans choose to ignore.
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Federica Foglia "Exit/Entrance or Trasumanar"
September 14 - 6:45PM
(Tiff bell light box - CINEMA 3)
September 19 - 3:45PM
(ScotiaBank Cinema 11)

The film, which tells the story of an immigrant artist who wanders the streets of the town he lives in, is an ode to our current era of constant migration, touching on nostalgia and the desire to belong.
-All festival tickets will go on sale September 6 at
"Exit/Entrance" will be shown in the Short Cuts Program
Information page

Monday, August 24, 2015

Inaugurazione della 31° Biennale di Arte Grafica di Lubiana

OVER YOU/YOU è il titolo della trentunesima Biennale di Arti Grafiche a cura di Nicola Lees. Il titolo è tratto da una breve nota posta nell’angolo di un disegno di Martin Kippenberger. Sembra un’irrisolta equazione o supposizione che sta ad indicare l’instabilità dell’immagine che può esser riprodotta. La Biennale esplora il modo in cui le tecniche di riproduzione sono usate dagli artisti visivi per le strategie di comunicazione e circolazione. Allo stesso tempo essa esamina il potenziale di ciò che può essere infinitamente copiato, focalizzandosi sugli innumerevoli possibili modi di concepire il concetto di riproduzione. La Biennale si concentra sull’artista che si oppone alla completezza e all’unicità dell’opera d’arte con “anti-singolarità”. Questo risultato è ottenuto dalle pratiche contemporanee che fanno riferimento alla storia della dispersione estrema. L’immagine in movimento è un concetto fondamentale per la nostra contemporanea economia dell’informazione. Ponendo l’immagine in movimento come si scontra con la struttura fissa della superficie stampata, si stabilisce un delicato equilibrio di forze tra le opere d’arte. Questa instabilità si riflette nel concetto della mostra che cerca di resistere alla linearità e alla conclusione, riflettendo invece il processo creativo degli artisti partecipanti tramite l’enfatizzazione del non-logico e dell’associativo.
Enej Gala, giovane artista sloveno che ha terminato da poco gli studi presso l'Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia, è stato selezionato dalla curatrice inglese Nicola Lees alla Biennale Internazionale di Grafica di Lubiana. Nicola Lees, oltre a curare la sezione dedicata ai progetti speciali di Freeze a Londra è stata per anni una collaboratrice della Serpentine Gallery di Londra.
Ricordiamo che Enej Gala è in mostra nella galleria A plus A di Venezia con un progetto ideato e pensato esclusivamente per lo spazio dal titolo The Stable a cura di Aurora Fonda e Sandro Pignotti.

Testo critico della mostra.        

ENEJ GALA è nato a Lubiana nel 1990 e lavora a Venezia. Nel 2013 consegue la laurea triennale presso l’Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia, specializzandosi in Pittura. Trascorre un periodo di studi all’estero presso la Williem De Kooning Academy of Fine Arts a Rotterdam. Nel 2015 si laurea al biennio presso la stessa Accademia di Venezia, sempre in Pittura. Partecipa a diverse mostre collettive e personali in Slovenia, Italia, Montenegro, Croazia, Albania, Senegal, Paesi Bassi e Portogallo. Dal 2010 partecipa ai workshop di Disegno e Pittura Atelier F a cura di Carlo di Raco, a Forte Marghera. Nel 2012 vince la borsa di studio della 96a collettiva giovani artisti della Fondazione Bevilacqua la Masa. Membro del collettivo Fondazione Malutta. Nel corso della 56° Biennale d’arte è invitato a partecipare al Rob Pruitt’s Flea Market in Venice.

A plus A Gallery
00 39 041 277 04 66

Interview: Anna Ferruzzo on her role in "Pecore in erba"

 "Pecore in erba" is our must-see pick for the 72nd Venice Film Festival. We talked with our friend, actress, Anna Ferruzzo about the film, her role and the beautiful, historic Roman neighborhood of Trastevere.
I read that "Pecore in erba" is a "mock-u-mentary", meaning that it was made in a documentary-style, but the story is not true. Can you tell me more about the genre of the film?
"Pecore in erba” is a comedy set and played in the Roman neighborhood of Trastevere. It talks about Leonardo Zulliani's life. He‘s a young activist, a genius of communication. His sudden disappearance became a true national case. But who is Leonardo Zulliani and why did he disappear? This is the very heartbeat of the film, but I can’t tell you more. You have to discover it on the screen. I can say only that this story is an excuse to talk about anti-Semitism in a clever way.
Since it's an ironic documentary, is the story based on a real person or an actual event that happened? 
Leonardo Zulliani is a fictional character and the story of his life is obviously invented but "Pecore in erba" looks like a real documentary because many famous journalists and communications experts participate in our film. There are testimonies of very famous Italian characters, like Enrico Mentana, Fabio Fazio, Vittorio Sgarbi and Corrado Augias. They mingle with the actors playing the relatives and friends of Leonardo. In this way, Leonardo’s story seems like a real news story.

Tell me about your character and how you developed her. 
In "Pecore in erba", I play Teresa Zulliani, Leonardo's mother, a desperate woman due to the sudden disappearance of her son. During a long interview, I talk about this special boy, about his restlessness, his youth, of his loves and his unexpected successes. Alberto Caviglia, the movie's director, asked me to give the most possible credible performance and I hope I did.

What are traits of the people of Trastevere that you and the other actors wanted to embrace and communicate to the audience?
Many small roles in the film are played by real people of Trastevere. They are not really actors but all are very authentic, genuine and spontaneous. So the real difficulty for us professional actors was to be as real and natural as them.

Trastevere is a popular Roman neighborhood. From the perspective of someone that lives in Rome, what makes Trastevere so unique?
I've lived in Rome for many years and I love this city so much. I always found this place comfortable and "warm" ... just the beauty of Rome. A walk along the Imperial Forums or up to the Janiculum makes you happy and makes you feel good. But the district of Trastevere has something more: it has preserved its popular and genuine character and for that reason this neighborhood was the ideal place to make our film. 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

72nd Venice Film Festival: Our Top Pick - "Pecore in erba"

Although it's certain that Italian filmmakers will shine at this year's Venice Film Festival- (check out our Venezia 2015 archive below for a recap) and we are really looking forward to hearing all about Marco Bellocchio's, "Sangue del mio sangue",  Italian Cinema & Art Today's Top Pick - Must-See film for the 72nd Venice Film Festival is "Pecore in erba"... and here are three reasons why...

1) It stars our beloved Anna Ferruzzo
2) It takes place in the gorgeous, historic Roman neighborhood of Trastevere
3) It'll be shown in the Venice Sala Web, which means you don't have to attend the festival to see it!

The film is set in July of 2006 when Trastevere native, Leonardo Zuliani has vanished. The news  turns into a real national emergency, while a huge throng of followers gathers around the young activist’s house. His mother is beside herself with grief and the entire neighborhood is paralyzed. He’s on every TV channel and the authorities all express their solidarity with the family. Many can’t believe it’s true; they prefer to think it’s just one of his stunts. A genius in conveying his ideas, successful cartoonist, visionary fashion designer, cult author, human rights activist: but who is Leonardo deep down? With the help of leading experts and celebrities, the film traces his life, at last casting light on a key figure of our times.

"Pecore in erba" stars Davide Giordano, Anna Ferruzzo, Bianca Nappi, Mimosa Campironi, Lorenza Indovina and Omero Antonutti.

About the director.. Alberto Caviglia holds a degree in Humanities with a thesis on David Cronenberg. He attended Directing courses at the New York Film Academy and the London Film School. His passion for photography led him to graduate in 2011 at the Scuola Romana di Fotografia. He has worked as an assistant director and in several television projects. Since 2011 he has worked as a writer and director. PECORE IN ERBA is his first feature film, presented at the Orizzonti Competition of the Venice IFF.

Click here to purchase a web ticket for "Pecore in erba".

Our -Venezia 2015- Archive

Saverio Costanzo to Chair Two Juries

Two Italian Films Chosen for the International Critics’ Week

Three Italian Projects up for European Gap-Financing Market

Alice Rohrwacher's “DE DJESS” "to Unspool" for Giornate degli Autori - Womens' Tales

Three Italian Films In Competition for Venice Days Award

72nd Venice Film Festival- Four Italians in Competition

Locarno Film Festival to Honor Marco Bellocchio

Friday, August 21, 2015

New and Classic Cinema Meet Under the Stars of Palermo

Beginning 24 August, debut pieces, showcasing talented new directors and celebrating the history of Italian cinema will be featured at ESCO (allo scoperto). The cinema event, organized by Andrea Inzerillo with Cultural Association SudTitles, will be held at the Complesso Monumentale dello Spasimo di Palermo. The event will conclude  on 6 September with a special tribute to Mario Monicelli and the screening of one of his most acclaimed films, "The Passionate Thief", starring Totò, Anna Magnani and Ben Gazzara.
This event is true marriage of yesterday and today, and a beautiful reflection of how Italian cinema evolves, always holding onto its roots. That unique quality will be celebrated by audiences as they practice the century old tradition of feature films being preceded by short films.

Fuori dal coro by Sergio Misuraca
The event will open with Sergio Misuraca's debut feature film, Fuori dal coro. Other debut films by young filmmakers will follow, such as Eleonora Danco with NCapace, Duccio Chiarini with Short Skin , Francesco Clerici with Hand Gestures and Laura Bispuri with Sworn Virgin. A wide range of diverse films aiming to renew people’s love of cinema will grace the big screen. Some of the films will also be shown with English subtitles, to appeal tourists.

The complete programme of ESCO (allo scoperto) can be found here.

-From an article written by 

Comedic Maestra - Paola Cortellesi

Whether she’s the romantic lead or the evil nun, Paolo Cortellesi is one of the most versatile actresses working in Italian cinema today.

Born in Rome in 1973, Cortellesi didn’t waste much time before leaping into show business. At just 13-years-old, she landed her first job as a vocalist for the theme song of the popular RAI TV show, “Indietro tutta!”. A few years later, she enrolled at Rome’s famous Teatro Blu, where she studied the art of acting.
Upon graduating from acting school, Cortellesi launched her professional acting career in television, and before long, her natural talent for comedy emerged. In 2000, she began working on the TV show, Mai dire Gol, created by the trio of TV and radio commentators known as the Gialappa's Band. The show made her famous for her parodies, and throughout the years, she’s had fun impersonating a number of famous Italians, the more recent hilarious parody being the mayor of Milan, the very prolific politician and business woman, Letizia Moratti.

With Raoul Bova in a scene from Riccardo Milani's "Scusate se esisto!"
In 2000, she also made her film debut in Chiedimi se sono felice (Ask me if I’m happy) by the comedy trio, Aldo, Giovanni & Giacomo. It quickly became clear her niche was comedy and with each new character, she perfected the role of the quirky girlfriend, beautiful, but always getting into some kind of mischief. For us in the United States, it was Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. One can safely say that in Italy, the equivalent is Paolo Cortellesi and Raoul Bova. The two charmed Italian audiences in 2001 with Massimiliano Bruno’s, Nessuno mi può giudicare (Escort in Love) in which Cortellesi played the role of Alice, an escort that falls in love with one of her clients. Cortellesi won the 2011 David di Donatello for Best Actress for her performance.The comedy duo paired up again in 2014 for the international hit, Scusate se esisto. Although the translation is not exact, the English title is, Do You See Me?. Directed by Cortellesi’s husband, Riccardo Milani, the film was recently shown at the Italian Contemporary Film Festival in Toronto to a packed theater, and was one of Italy’s top comedies last year. Cortellesi and Bova were incredible together as she played the role of an accomplished, international architect returning to Italy to find work. Bova played a flamboyant, handsome gay man, who becomes her best friend. The have great chemistry and impeccable comic timing together. Just like Ryan and Hanks, they are adored for their cat and mouse chase and then enduring moments thereafter. Whether their relationship is love or friendship, the two are a strong big screen couple.

With Rocco Papaleo in a scene from Luca Miniero's "Un boss in salotto"
In following the work of Paolo Cortellesi, I am impressed by many aspects of her career. First and foremost is the diversity of her characters. Many actresses that work in the genre of romantic comedies tend to have one signature character they portray. Even Meg Ryan admitted to this back in her heyday, saying that she was getting tired of that same character and storyline. Cortellesi manages to breathe new life into each role she plays, and in doing so, has inspired writers and directors to create more interesting and complex female characters. The other aspect of Cortellesi that impresses me is her loyal following of fans. She has a die-hard fan club of young women that work tirelessly to promote her work and very latest projects and appearances. They have a strong social media presence, especially on Twitter. While researching for this article, I contacted the group. They responded with wonderful insight about their screen idol, saying that her characters really represent the modern woman. Her characters mirror the contemporary Italian woman as she juggles a family and career while maintaining her beauty and sex appeal. In the case of Cortellesi’s characters, they manage all these challenges with a wicked sense of humor.
Much of Cortellesi’s work is available online, in particular through Amazon. There you will find audio books, music and a few of her films. Chances are good that Scusate se esisto! will be released internationally later this year. Check back here for updates.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A Conversation with Piccola Patria's Vladimir Doda

Vladimir Doda was born in Albania but his dreams of being an actor brought him to the Eternal City. Vladimir Doda is a versatile actor that goes from screen to stage with remarkable ease. His breakout role came in Alessandro Rossetto’s Piccola Patria, a heavy film, which speaks to Italy’s problem with immigration, clandestine immigrants in particular- the prejudices they face and their complicated assimilation into society. Doda took on the role of Bilal, the Albanian boyfriend of one of the main characters. He gave a passionate, heartfelt performance, and in the midst of some very dark subject matter, he shined, and his performance stole the show.

When I initially saw the film in New York City last year during Lincoln Center’s annual Italian film series- Open Roads: New Italian Cinema, I had some pretty negative feelings about it and didn’t give it a great review. Through a mutual friend on social media, Doda saw my review and contacted me to help me better understand the story. I was so impressed by his effort, and his explanation did help me to better understand Rossetto’s vision. The film just became available through Italy’s new initiative to promote indie filmmaking. So, the timing is perfect for a conversation with this talented actor about his work. Although many films on the Italian site are indeed available worldwide, unfortunately, Piccola Patria is not yet available for purchase in the United States. However, it is available throughout Italy and Europe.
Our interview was originally done in Italian, so I am including both versions.
Let's start at the beginning. When did you realize that you wanted to pursue acting as a career?
I began taking acting classes about ten years ago and after a few years, I became more serious about it. I’ve always enjoyed film. Before I really started studying theater, I just considered myself a cinephile. I’ve watched and watched again all the movies of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton as well as the classics of Italian, French and American cinema. Once I decided that I would overcome the language barrier, I enrolled in film school and there was no turning back.
Diciamo che ho iniziato a seguire i primi corsi di recitazione circa dieci anni fa e dopo qualche anno ho preso la cosa più seriamente. Devo dire che il cinema mi è sempre piaciuto anzi, finché non ho cominciato a studiare e fare teatro mi ritenevo una specie di cinefile. Per un periodo guardavo e riguardavo tutti i film di Chaplin, Keaton oltre che i classici del cinema italiano, francese o americano. Se devo scegliere un momento preciso è stato quando ho capito che la lingua per me non poteva essere un ostacolo. Diciamo che quando ho deciso di fare un’accademia (acting school, come le chiamate voi) non si poteva più tornare indietro.

Tell me about that language barrier. What are your challenges in acting in another language?
The main challenge is always to be credible. Then there are also technical aspects in the way you respect and treat the language. In my first experiences up until now, there were times when it seemed that I wasn’t even speaking Italian given the fact that many people here don’t always speak the language properly. If we talk about acting on stage, there are some advantages but an actor also runs the risk of stressing certain words too much. The Italian language is risky on stage because it’s very musical. Italian itself is not very theatrical, because it has many vowels and is more suitable for singing. So, it’s not a coincidence that it’s the country of melodrama. The dialects, however, are very theatrical but they are something else entirely.
La sfida principale è sempre quella di essere credibile. Poi ci sono cose tecniche e poi ancora rispetto al modo come tratti la lingua. In quelle prime esperienze che ho dai film fino adesso, è come se parlassi in un'altra lingua che non è neanche italiano perché faccio persone che non parlano bene italiano. Se si parla della recitazione sul palco per certe cose uno può essere addirittura vantaggiato. Quando un attore dice delle cose che hanno a che fare con un proprio vissuto e legate alla propria cultura, in alcuni casi rischia anche di sottolineare troppo se non è attento. Meno rischioso sarebbe per un attore bilingue perché ha già almeno un altro punto di vista. La lingua italiana è rischiosa sul palco, perché è molto musicale. L’italiana in sé non è molto teatrale, perché ha molte vocali ed è più adatta per il canto (non a caso è il paese del melodramma), i dialetti ovviamente sono molto teatrali ma sono un'altra cosa ancora.

What are the similarities and differences between the Italian culture and the Albanian culture?
Well it’s a very broad topic. The Two countries are so close and yet so far. While the sea divides them, they both have the same climate. They are two countries with a history dating back to antiquity. In Italy, the presence of Albanians goes back to the Roman Empire with some popes and several emperors of Illyrian origin. Albanian communities came after the Turkish invasions in southern Italy, and some of those communities still retain the traditions and ancient Albanian language. In the last twenty years, many Albanians have arrived in Italy. Italy has had a political presence in Albania since Roman times that lasted until the end of World War II. But since Albanians had major problems with the other Balkan neighbors, they never saw Italy as a real invader, even during the fascist invasion, but rather as a friendly country. Between the two peoples, it has always been an atmosphere of friendship. There have been a few differences, religion in particular. Religion and the Church have always had a huge weight in Italy. While in Albania, different religions live together in peace. But the truth is that there's not a strong attachment to religion. Albania had a time of isolation from Italy and from Europe as a whole. During that time, the arts, which also include theater, cinema and dance, experienced a Russian influence.
Come argomento è molto ampio. Sono due paesi così vicini e allo stesso tempo così lontani. Provo a sintetizzare. Intanto li divide il mare e entrambi hanno lo stesso clima. Sono due paesi con una storia che risale all’antichità. In Italia la presenza degli albanesi risale all’Impero romano con addirittura alcuni papi e diversi imperatori di origine illirica. Le comunità albanesi, arrivate dopo le invasioni turche nel Sud Italia , conservano ancora oggi alcune tradizioni e la lingua antica albanese. E poi negli ultimi vent’anni sono arrivati in Italia molti albanesi. Allo stesso tempo l’Italia ha sempre avuto una presenza politica e clericale (che era anche politica) in Albania dall’epoca romana fino alla fine della II guerra mondiale. Avendo però avuto gli albanesi sempre problemi maggiori con gli altri vicini balcanici, non hanno mai visto l’Italia come un vero e proprio invasore, persino nel periodo dell’invasione fascista, ma anzi come un paese amico. Tra i due popoli c’è sempre stato un clima di amicizia. Alcune differenze. La religione e la Chiesa ha sempre avuto un peso enorme in Italia. Mentre in Albania convivono in pace diverse religioni, anche se in verità non c’è un grande attaccamento alla religione. L’Albania ha avuto un periodo di isolamento rispetto all’Italia e l’Europa e, in quel periodo, nel campo delle arti c’era un’influenza della scuola russa, sia per il teatro che per il cinema o la danza.
Is your culture reflected in your work? For example, do you feel your culture in the soul of the characters you portray?
Yes, a lot… in everything I do, not only in acting. In every character I play, there is something of my childhood, of my country- the tastes, the smells, the moods and sounds of the neighborhood. There is something of my neighbors or my friends during the time when I lived in Albania. For example, there was this “crazy” character that I did for a show, and I took 60-70% from a guy I had known when I was about 9-years-old. Sometimes it happens that I get what I want very quickly, but other times it comes slower and I have to work on it. As an actor, memories are key. Bilal, my character in Piccola Patria, has a kind of melancholy that is also part of me but he was also inspired by a person dear to me, that I spent time with during a period of depression. That state of depression really helped me in developing the character because I was able to visualize and portray the depth of sadness that I saw in his eyes.
Si, molto. In tutto quello che faccio e non solo nella recitazione. In ogni personaggio che ho impersonato fino adesso c’è qualcosa della mia infanzia, della mia terra, i sapori, gli odori, gli umori e i rumori del quartiere. C’è qualcosa di un mio vicino di casa o di un mio amico del periodo vissuto in Albania. Per esempio per un personaggio di un “matto” che mi è capitato di fare per uno spettacolo, ho preso 60-70 % da un tizio che avevo visto quando avevo circa 9 anni. A volte mi succede che raggiungo molto velocemente quello che voglio, altre volte sono più lento e devo lavorarci su. In questo lavoro i ricordi sono una cosa fondamentale. Bilal stesso, il personaggio che ho fatto in Piccola Patria, ha una sorta di malinconia che fa parte anche di me (o degli albanesi se vogliamo dire) ma soprattutto di una persona a me cara e che io ho assistito durante un suo periodo di depressione. A me aiutava tantissimo per quel tratto che vedevo nei suoi occhi, perché riuscivo a visualizzarlo bene e usarlo nel mio lavoro.


What do you think about Laura Bispuri's film, Vergine Giurata and all the international success it has had?
The story itself is very strong. I have not read the book yet by Elvira Dones, from which the film is based but I have seen her documentary on the sworn virgin (in Albanian- Burrneshat). I was born and raised in these parts and I know the phenomenon, so I am not watching the film with the exotic curiosity of a tourist. I happened to know and see firsthand several small burrnesha (sworn virgins). They are like a force of nature, full of energy- almost a masculine energy (Burrnesh Burr has its basis, which means man). They do not see themselves as victims, so much so that we use to refer to the Burrnesh also as a mature or elderly married woman of strong character. Bispuri makes almost a feminist statement. The phenomenon is complex and, in my opinion, even has a hint of revolt, especially if you consider that such a practice went against the morals of the Catholic Church (women who dressed and behaved like men, in Northern Europe were accused and burned as witches) and the community accepted them anyway. I would have to see the film again to really give you my opinion because I was distracted by the fact that some of the Albanian actors were speaking Italian while the lead Italian actress was speaking Albanian. I would have preferred to see them dubbed, even though I hate dubbing. However, I really loved the character played by (Albanian actress) Flonja Kodheli. She’s really a great actress.

La storia in sé è molto forte. Non ho letto ancora il libro di Elvira Dones, dal quale è tratto il film ma ho visto il suo documentario sulle vergine giurate (per gli albanesi “Burrneshat”).  Sono nato e cresciuto da quelle parti e conosco bene il fenomeno, quindi non lo guardo con la curiosità esotica di un turista. Mi è capitato di conoscere e di vedere già da piccolo diverse “burrnesha” e sono come una forza della natura, pieno di energia quasi un energia maschile (Burrnesh ha come radice Burr, che vuol dire uomo). Voglio dire che loro non si vedono come vittime, tanto è vero che si usa chiamare Burrnesh anche una donna sposata matura o anziana di carattere forte. Bispuri ne fa quasi una lettura femminista che ci sta, ma chi vede il film non deve scambiarlo per antropologia visuale. Il fenomeno è complesso e, secondo me, addirittura ha un germe di rivolta femminile e assieme una rivincita per l’epoca (ovviamente non si parla solo dei nostri giorni). Se si pensa che una simile consuetudine andava contro la morale della Chiesa cattolica (una donna che si veste e si comporta da uomo, nel Nord Europa venivano accusate e bruciate come streghe) e la comunità lo accettava comunque. Del film mi ricordo alcune immagini suggestive dei corpi ma devo essere sincero non saprei dirti molto perché dovrei rivederlo. Non sono riuscito a goderlo in quanto ero infastidito molto dal fatto che i personaggi impersonati dagli attori albanesi parlassero in italiano anche tra di loro, mentre l’attrice italiana si esprimeva in albanese, avrei preferito vederlo doppiato (anche se odio il doppiaggio). Ho amato molto il personaggio impersonato da Flonja Kodheli e quest’utlima è una grande attrice.
What are your career plans for the future? Have you thought about working behind the camera as a director? 
I just want to continue to do as much as possible to grow as an actor. In May, I did a show at a theater here in Rome and I hope to score more roles on stage. I'm preparing my monologue by writing snippets of things that maybe I could use one day. But in life, you never know, I could decide to do anything, even if acting is the thing to which I have devoted the most time and energy in my life. Have I ever thought of being a director? Of course I’ve thought about it. But I think that every actor has thought about it at least once. I have respect for those who do it and I think I will need a good apprenticeship. Directing is different. There are very long periods between projects and for the moment I'm not ready to invest that time.
Voglio solo poter continuare a fare il più possibile per crescere come attore. Per il momento faccio poco del mio lavoro. A maggio ho fatto uno spettacolo a teatro qui a Roma e spero di farne altri. Sto preparando un mio monologo. Scrivo stralci di cose che magari potrò usare un giorno. Ma nella vita non si sa mai potrei anche decidermi di fare tutt’altro, anche se in verità recitare e la cosa a cui ho dedicato più tempo e più energia nella mia vita. Lei mi chiede se ho mai pensato di fare il regista. Certo che ci ho pensato. Ma credo che ogni attore ci ha pensato almeno una volta. Ho rispetto per chi lo fa e credo che mi servirà un buon periodo di apprendistato (cosa che comincerò a farlo). La regia cinematografica è una cosa diversa, i tempi di gestazione sono lunghissimi e io per il momento non sono pronto a reggere quei tempi lì.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Basilicata: Terra di Cinema- Documentary Film, "Mater Matera" at the Lucania Film Festival

A new documentary is about to make its Italian premiere at the Lucania Film Festival, and the stunning panoramic images alone make it worth seeing.

Shot in the ancient town of Matera, the film, titled, "Mater Matera" recounts the city's folklore, traditions and culture. From the unique landscape of the Sassi to the local culinary traditions to the festival of Matera's patron saint, Madonna della Bruna, the film is a true feast for the eyes and a beautiful portrait of this southern Italian city named the 2019 European Capital of Culture.

The project is the brainchild of filmmakers, Andrea di Consoli e Simone Aleandri, who wanted to capture the soul, passion and pride of the city's inhabitants. It was produced by Clipper Media in collaboration with RAI Cinema. The film was first shown earlier this year in Lisbon during the 8½ Festa del Cinema Italiano, in which a section was dedicated to filmmaking in Basilicata. According to Paride Leporace, the Lucana Film Commission's prolific director, reaction to the film was very positive and the showing was a great success.

If you're planning to be in Italy this November, "Mater Matera" will be distributed in some art house theaters. We'll keep you posted on showtimes and cities.

"Anime Nere" to be shown at Rome's Isola del Cinema

Francesco Munzi's blockbuster, "Anime nere" has seen it share of success all over the world. Now, Romans will get another chance to watch it.. this time at one of the most enchanting venues around- Isola del Cinema.

I've really enjoyed covering the success of this movie, from its buzz in Italy after premiering at last year's Venice Film Festival to its U.S. premiere to all the awards it has won. So, I'd like to take this opportunity to look back on all the coverage and interviews. If you're fortunate enough to be in Rome, I strongly recommend you attend Sunday's screening. The film will be shown in the Arena Groupama in the program, Ciak d'Italia at 21:30 (9:30pm). If you're not able to attend, I invite you to peruse through my coverage and get to know the filmmakers behind this huge hit.

Chicago premiere

Interview with director, Francesco Munzi

Interview (anche in italiano) with actress, Anna Ferruzzo

Africo Calabria through the eyes of actor and local, Stefano Priolo (Intervista anche in italiano)

Interview (anche in italiano) with actor, Peppino Mazzotta

                                     Interview (anche in italiano) with actor, Sebastiano Filocamo

Interview with actress, Barbora Bobulova

                      New York premiere and Interview (anche in italiano) with actor, Vito Facciolla

Interview with actor, Domenico Centamore

Profile on actor, Marco Leonardi

In Conversation with Director Cecilia Pignocchi

Filmmakers Arthur Couvat and  Cecilia Pignocchi It’s unusual for a first-time filmmaker to be recognized by a high-profile, international fi...