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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Interview with Producer Angelo Troiano on Basilicata: Terra di Cinema - "Thriller" the Phenomenon

Angelo Troiano, Sergio Ragone, Giuseppe Marco Albano
Born in Bernalda, a small town in the province of Matera, Angelo Troiano grew up watching the work of American directors like Francis Ford Coppola, whose grandfather is from the same town. When he was a child, Troiano’s mother took him to the local Cineplex to see cinematic masterpieces. However, he didn’t hear his calling to be a filmmaker until he was well into his teens.

In 2008, he started Basiliciak, a small production company funded solely by contributions from supporters. He produced three films with Basiliciak, including the highly acclaimed short film, AnnA, which was directed by his friend and business partner, Giuseppe Marco Albano. That partnership has grown and flourished over the years. Their most recent production is the short film, Thriller, about a Pugliese youngster who overcomes the financial hardships of his city by impersonating his idol, Michael Jackson. The film was catapulted into the limelight after winning Italian cinema’s most prestigious honor, the David di Donatello. Co-produced by the pair’s close friend, Huffington Post journalist and fellow filmmaker Sergio Ragone, the Lucano trio travels throughout Italy, presenting their award-winning film to enthusiastic audiences.

Thanks to social media, I’ve been connected with these filmmakers for years and I’ve watched their progress with each new project. I was so happy to see the huge success of Thriller, so I contacted Angelo Troiano for an interview. I found a well-spoken young man truly passionate about his work and his origins. I asked him about this phenomenon called Thriller, and the filmmaking boom currently taking place in his beautiful region of Basilicata.

First, tell me about the story of this boy, the protagonist in your short film, Thriller.
Michele is a huge fan of Michael Jackson to the point of dressing up and moving like him every moment of the day. The film takes place in Taranto, located in the southern region of Puglia. There, everyone recognizes his talent and they know it’s just a matter of time before he ends up on television. But when that day finally comes, his father is unable to accompany him on the trip to the studios due to a workers’ strike. The boy uses his imagination to come up with a solution to keep him from losing his dream. It’s a story of hope in a city that has so much to offer beyond the current issues related to the environment and health.

This film has been embraced by audiences all over Italy. What do you think are the qualities of this story that make it so loved?
Well as I said, it is a story of hope, from the perspective of someone surrounded by many other problems. I believe this aspect has moved people the most, from the citizens of Taranto to people all over Italy and parts of Europe. It also has an erratic pace as its tough subject matter alternates with some hilarious moments. I believe that Giuseppe Marco Albano really created a complete recipe.

Tell me about your evening at the David di Donatello awards.
It was obviously a unique and unforgettable emotion. I just hope the protagonist’s debut made an impact on Italian cinema. It was hard for us to believe that we actually won this prestigious award, but compliment after compliment from all the actors, directors and producers present made us realized that our dream had come true, and that it was a new starting point to do even more. Then to shake hands and speak with a legend like Quentin Tarantino, I think it was the icing on the cake. It was an unexpected turn of events and that will remain forever in our hearts.

Tell me about this “Land of Cinema” that Basilicata has become, and the future of filmmaking there.
Basilicata has the extraordinary advantage of possessing locations filled with ambience that suit any film of any genre. Also, the people of Basilicata realize the positive economic impact cinema can have on the region. The film industry of Basilicata is still working to develop its resources to facilitate the increase in film production. When everything is fully developed, Basilicata will be a perfect land of cinema. We are definitely on the right track.

Any plans for your next project?
I have a couple projects that I am working on with my partner, Giuseppe Marco Albano. One is a documentary about Italian society. Then, my different work experiences in Puglia presented me with the opportunity to learn more about this region. So, I am developing an ambitious project to reinforce the importance of short films that are often disdained in Italy.

Thriller is available to watch right here. The dialogue will be tough to follow if you don’t speak much Italian. However, the images and stellar performances make the story easy to follow.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

What dreams are made of.. Director Gianfranco Cabiddu's stunning homage to Eduardo De Filippo

The tempestuous weather in the Eternal City Wednesday appropriately set the tone for La stoffa dei song (The Stuff of Dreams), the new film by Gianfranco Cabiddu, one of the most significant auteurs of Italian cinema. 

La stoffa dei sogni tells the story of a modest theatre company (to say the least) that is shipwrecked with a group of dangerous organized crime mobsters on the coast of Asinara, the location of an island-prison in the middle of the Tyrrhenian Sea. The story explores the role of art in our lives, bringing to light the universal themes of guilt, revenge, redemption, and pardon.

Director Gianfranco Cabiddu and Sergio Rubini
Vincenzo Carpineta's stunning cinematography sets the stage for what at first seems like a drama but quickly turns into a comedy at the hands of veteran actor/director Sergio Rubini. Adapted from The Tempest by William Shakespeare and L’arte della com media by Eduardo De Filippo, the dialogue between the characters is clever and perfectly timed by outstanding performances. In the opening credits, the film was dedicated to the master, De Filippo.

With Gianfranco Cabiddu at the Rome premiere of "La stoffa dei sogni"
Rubini's character, Oreste Campese is the lead actor of a troupe that includes his wife, daughter and perhaps a random family member. The four board an ill-fated ferry headed for the desolate island of Asinara, the home of a famous prison. The ferry gets caught in the middle of a storm and all inmates along with the unlucky acting troupe are shipwrecked, but on different parts of the shore. Eventually, all their fates meet and Campese is forced to tell the head general of the prison, De Caro, played superbly by Ennio Fantastichini (whose recent performance in Io e lei I very much enjoyed) that three of the criminals originally headed to the prison are actually part of his troupe. De Caro is not buying the story, and challenges the so-called actors to stage Shakespeare's The Tempest - and gives them less than a week to prepare. After a round of hilarious rehearsals and rewrites.. throw in the general's beautiful, rebellious daughter and a creepy island inhabitant that only speaks in Sardinian dialect.. and you have all the ingredients for one brilliant comedy with an endearing ending and life lesson for us all. Of course, each viewer's interpretation is his or her own. However, I walked away with the validation of art's profound importance in our lives- in the way we free our minds and souls, escaping through the interpretations and dreams we find in art, whether the art form is visual or literary.

A quick pose with Sergio Rubini after the film
I have a feeling this one will soon be heading to America. We'll keep you posted on its international distribution. In the meantime, you can catch Sergio Rubini at the Rome Film Festival in "Dobbiamo parlare", a tale of the dialogue between couples. The ensemble cast includes Fabrizio Bentivoglio, Maria Pia Calzone and Isabella Ragonese along with Rubini. The film is one of the festival's headliners and will be shown October 21-23. Check the festival's website for details.

In Italian theaters and Nexfilx today- Suburra: a Roman western between politics and criminality

Stefano Sollima’s new film, an Italo-French co-production, will be released in Italian theatres and on Netflix in the United States and South America on 14 October.

The Suburra quarter in ancient Rome was the quarter populated by taverns and brothels, where noble senators met with criminals in secret to do business and make money. Two thousand years later, not much seems to have changed in the Italian capital. Politics and criminality continue to do business and the real world is governed by laws drawn up by corrupt politicians, through brokers without scruples in the shadow of an ambivalent Vatican. These were the findings of a recent judicial inquiry by the name of Mafia Capitale, which has now been brought to the big screen by Stefano Sollima’s new film, Suburra at a time when Rome has just seen the resignation of its mayor, and is being plagued by ungovernability and the chaos of the upcoming Jubilee.

Based on the novel of the same name by Giancarlo De Cataldo (who also wrote “Romanzo Criminale”) and Carlo Bonini (the writer of “Acab”, on which the film, also directed by Sollima, is based), Suburra is neither an historic reconstruction nor a faithful account of events, rather the realistic story of a system, a universe, colored by shades of noir and urban western. The year is 2011, a week away from the fall of the government (that of Berlusconi). In a sort of countdown to the Apocalyse announced at the beginning of the film, in a nocturnal Rome flooded by rain, we are introduced to different and apparently unconnected worlds: the political world with the honorable Malgradi (Pierfrancesco Favino), a greedy and depraved PR manager; the world of VIP parties with Sebastiano (Elio Germano), a slimy social climber; the underworld of the coastal area of Rome with Number 8 (Alessandro Borghi, the protagonist of the Italian Oscar candidate Non essere cattivo), the heir to a powerful family that manages the area. Then there’s the ‘Samurai’ (Claudio Amendola), a former member of the Magliana Gang, who seems the most harmless of all but is actually pulling a lot of the strings connecting the various worlds; Manfredi (Adamo Dionisi), the boss of a rowdy cutthroat family of gypsy loan sharks; Viola (Greta Scarano), the drug addicted girlfriend of Number 8, and Sabrina (Giulia Elettra Gorietti), an escort who works in tandem with minors. All interests converge on the plans for a big property speculation, the so-called Waterfront, which would turn Ostia into a new Las Vegas full of hotels, clubs and casinos. In the same week, the Pope steps down (although this actually happened just over a year later).

The portrait of a humanity driven by money and extreme ambition, in which the law of the strongest prevails and there are no heroes. The films takes place between the halls of parliament, rooms of the Vatican, luxury hotels, flashy villas, run-down suburbs with fierce executions, drugs, parties, and protests. There’s a lot going on in Suburra, perhaps too much for just two hours of film. The TV series that will be based on it and has already been announced (comprising 10 episodes produced by Netflix, currently in development) will make much better use of so much material. The film by Sollima, who is a well-established director these days since his successful TV series based on Romanzo criminale and Gomorra, is nonetheless a flawless piece, blunt in style, without rhetoric or moralism, which features outstanding actors and has a certain ‘realism of genre’ about it that Italian production (in particular Riccardo Tozzi’s production company Cattleya) relies on a lot, ever since Romanzo criminale directed by Michele Placido ten years ago, and which is proving to be highly exportable.

Co-produced by Italy and France (Cattleya, Rai Cinema, La Chauve Souris) on a budget of €7 million, Suburra will be released in cinemas on 14 October (by 01 Distribution in 500 copies) and will be simultaneously released on Netflix in the United States and South America. The film, which has already been sold in 14 countries around the world (international sales by Indie Sales), will open the screenings at the MIA, the International Audiovisual market, which will be held from 16 to 20 October during the Rome Film Fest.

By Vittoria Scarpa for Cineuropa

Samantha Cristoforetti presents the docu-film "Astrosamantha la prima italiana nello spazio"

It's been a full week of star/studded premieres with four nights of events preceding the opening of the 10th Rome Film Fest, which will be held from Friday October 16th to Saturday 24th. The events have begun at the MAXXI - National Museum of XXI Century Arts, and the Casa del Cinema, before converging to the Auditorium Parco della Musica, which has been the heart of the festival since its very first edition.

The first event took place on October 12th at the MAXXI- National Museum of XXI Century Arts, when Samantha Cristoforetti, European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut, Italian Air Force Capitan, and flight engineer for the second long-term mission of the Italian Space Agency (ASI), presented the docu-film "Astrosamantha la prima italiana nello spazio", a beautiful, inspiring documentary about the first Italian woman in space. The film, directed and produced by Gianluca Cerasola, a journalist and international reporter, was made in collaboration with ESA, ASI and the Aeronautica Militare. With the narrative voice of Italian actor Giancarlo Giannini, the director follows Samantha Cristoforetti for three years, from her training to her return from space, showing us a new side of the woman who was awarded the highest Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, the title of Cavaliere di Gran Croce, upon her return from her mission.
With a backdrop of exceptional photography, director Gianluca Cerasola gives us an inside look at the personality of Cristoforetti, a woman that is often seen in the media talking about her profession but rarely about herself. The film shows us the intense training for the mission that took place on three continents along with some lighter moments with friends, including a group of women she met through NASA that call themselves the "Tank Girls". The quality of Cristoforetti's personality that I appreciate the most after watching this film is her ability to stay calm and smile under any circumstance. I'm sure that quality has helped her get to where she is today.

In person, she was gracious in posing for photos and talking with fans. She stood by Cerasola's side as he gleamed with pride at the masterpeice he and his team created. Cristoforetti took a few moments to chat with a young fan that was looking up to her with complete adoration in her eyes. It was a sweet moment and all the paparazzi gathered around to make the most of it.

Samantha Cristoforetti is well-connected with her fans on social media and is always posting interesting updates. You can follow her on Twitter at @AstroSamantha as well as American astronaut Terry Virts, who was on the same mission and featured throughout the film.

We will keep you posted on the international distribution of  "Astrosamantha la prima italiana nello spazio". In the meantime, check out the film's trailer (with English subtitles) on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Giovanna Taviani to present work in Rochester, New York

Italian filmmaker Giovanna Taviani will be in Rochester during the second week of November participating in a film series that will take place at area universities, Nazareth College and the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Giovanna Taviani is the daughter of the iconic filmmaker, Vittorio Taviani.. one half of the filmmaking duo, the Taviani Brothers. Giovanna had a part in her father's 1984 film, "Kaos" but has chosen a path behind the camera as a director. My personal favorite is her 2010 documentary film, "Fughe e approdi"  which showcases the cinematic magic of the beautiful Aeolian Islands where she grew up. Fortunately, that film will be shown in the series. I highly recommend it. Read our review and watch the trailer. She also founded the SalinaDocFest, an annual film festival held on the Aeolian Island of Salina that features documentaries and feature films with themes of human rights and relevant social issues.

I spoke with one of the organizers of the event, R.I.T. Professor Elisabetta Sanino d’Amanda. She told me that Taviani will be conducting various workshops with students and participating in several discussions about her work following screenings at R.I.T., Nazareth and the Dryden Theater. On Taviani’s work and carrying on the filmmaking legacy of her family, Professor Sanino D’Amanda explained that Taviani “has embraced the contemporary issues and made documentary filmmaking a top priority in the vein of Vittorio De Seta and the best Italian documentary filmmaking.”
The following events of the film series are confirmed. Please check our Facebook group page beginning on November 8th for any changes.
November 9th at 6:00 pm  at Shults Center Forum  at Nazareth College's Casa Italiana
Film Screening: Kaos   (1984)   Directed by Paolo & Vittorio Taviani , in Italian with English subtitles  
November 10th, 6pm at R.I.T.’s UNIVERSITY GALLERY - BOOTH Building
Reception and Artist Talk with Giovanna Taviani on the Taviani Brothers film "CEASER MUST DIE" and 7pm screening of the the film in WEBB Auditorium plus Q&A after the film
November 11th, 6pm in UNIVERSITY GALLERY - BOOTH Building
Reception and Artist Talk with Giovanna Taviani on her film 'RITORNI- RETURNS" and 7pm screening of the film in CARLSON Auditorium in CARLSON Building plus Q&A after film
November 14th for the High Falls Film Festival at the DRYDEN THEATER at EASTMAN MUSEUM 'RITORNI- RETURNS" and 4pm
The film 'RITORNI'  (Check or the IACC Facebook group page for screening time)

Friday, October 9, 2015

Jacopo Benci – Débrayages a cura di / curated by Maddalena Rinaldi

See English translation below..

via Palazzo dei Duchi 6 [Piazza del Mercato], Spoleto, Umbria

fino al / until 6.12.2015
Lun-Ven / Mon-Fri 16:30-19:30 
Sab-Dom per appuntamento / Sat-Sun by appointment

The exhibition presents a selection of photo works by Jacopo Benci from 2007 to 2011.
A fully illustrated catalogue with a text by Maddalena Rinaldi will be presented at the opening.

Jacopo Benci lives in Rome. His work includes photography, video/film, installation, performance; it has been exhibited in galleries, museums, festivals in Italy, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Germany, Great Britain, Holland, Hungary, Russia, Thailand, United States. Benci is Senior Research Fellow in Modern Studies & Contemporary Visual Culture of the British School at Rome, where he was Assistant Director Fine Arts from 1998 to 2013.

In 2012, I attended a fascinating exhibit in Rome by Benci. The Mystery of the Park featured a collection of instant photographs, digital photographs and a video. The subject of these photos was Maryon Park in southeast London, the location of a key scene Michelangelo Antonioni's epic Blow Up. Benci's fascination with gardens and parks lies in the way that we generally regard parks as "spaces prepared for living in the magic of daylight, for contemplation or for play, for meeting or solitude.." That is quite a poetic thought for a simple and beautiful exhibition of photos. If you are familiar with the film and the scene that was shot in Maryon Park, you will find irony in the peaceful, still portraits that graced the walls of the Roman gallery  where they were displayed. I found the exhibit to be a beautiful union of art and film, which captured the tranquility and vast landscape of one location, and I appreciated the fact it kept relevant an iconic Italian filmmaker of days gone by.

Check him out online at

From Jacopo Benci's 2012 Rome exhibit, The Mystery of the Park 

In Italiano..

La mostra presenta una selezione di opere fotografiche di Jacopo Benci del 2007-2011.
Il catalogo illustrato della mostra, con un testo di Maddalena Rinaldi, sarà presentato all'inaugurazione.

Jacopo Benci vive a Roma. Il suo lavoro include fotografia, video/film, installazione, performance; è stato esposto in gallerie, musei, festival in Italia, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Francia, Germania, Gran Bretagna, Olanda, Ungheria, Russia, Thailandia, Stati Uniti. Benci è Senior Research Fellow in Modern Studies & Contemporary Visual Culture dell'Accademia Britannica, di cui è stato Assistant Director Fine Arts dal 1998 al 2013.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Margherita Buy: A Road Traveled

Margherita Buy (L) and Sabrina Ferilli at the 2015 Rome premiere of Io e Lei
She has been a fixture in Italian cinema for decades with an impressive range that has landed her in all kinds of zany predicaments. Whether she's discovering the secret life of her deceased husband, dealing with a coming-of-age-daughter or struggling with the effects of a depressed economy, Margherita Buy's strong presence and command of her roles makes her a spell-binding leading lady.

Born on January 15, 1962 in the Eternal City, Buy studied her craft at Rome's Academy of Dramatic Arts Silvio D'Amico. That's where she met her future husband and lifelong collaborator, Sergio Rubini. The two made a number of successful films together, including Tutto l'amore che c'e, L'amore ritorna and L'uomo nero. Although their marriage didn't work out, the two have remained close friends and continue to work together.
Buy has been making movies since the mid-80's but her international breakthrough came in 2001 with Ferzan Ozpetek's drama, La fate ignorante (His Secret Life). Buy takes on the role of Antonia whose husband is killed suddenly in an automobile accident. Shortly after his death, she discovers a painting that was given to him. Upon further investigation, she learns the painting was a gift from her husband’s lover. Only then does she learn about the other life he led. It's a complicated role that called upon Buy's ability to express her emotions through her gaze, which is a trademark quality in Ozpetek's direction, as well as acting out her feelings in her emotionally-charged scenes. 

In 2003, Buy showed us a lighter, more comical side in Paolo Verzi's coming of age film, Caterina va in città (Caterina in the Big City). Buy is the mother of Caterina, a teenager who moves from a small town to big time Roma and is faced with the huge task of assimilating. Buy's character also has to put up with her politically passionate, basket case husband, hilariously played by Sergio Castellitto. The two Italian cinema veterans present us with a funny, touching portrait about the trials and tribulations of one family just trying to evolve with the times.

2007 proved to be a busy year for the actress. She starred in two international blockbusters; Ferzan Ozpetek's 2007 hit ensemble film, Saturno Contro (Saturn in Opposition) and Silvio Soldini's Giorni e Nuvole (Days and Clouds). Saturn in Opposition focuses on a group of contemporary 30 and 40 - somethings and their struggles with coming to terms with the reality of dreams that didn't always come true. Buy's character deals with infidelity and the challenges facing a couple trying to hold onto their marriage. She dealt with a similar subject matter in Soldini's Days and Clouds, which is the story of a middle-aged couple that seems to have everything; a beautiful home, lots of friends, a great social life; but when Michele, portrayed by Antonio Albanese, loses his partner's confidence, he finds himself at square one looking for a job. Margherita Buy pulls no punches in playing the part of Elsa, Michele's wife who is faced with the task of downsizing her whole life. She succeeds in communicating the deep frustration she feels and her desire in finding an outlet for that frustration that will ultimately save her marriage.

Buy's performance in Nanni Moretti's 2011 reflective comedy, Habemus Papam (We Have a Pope)  combined her talents for comedy and drama with role of a renowned psychiatrist who guides a newly elected Pope to look back on his life and figure out why he really doesn't want the job. Buy shares the screen with another beloved Italian filmmaker, this time Nanni Moretti, and the two created a beautiful and sometimes funny retrospective on life.

In Ferzan Ozpetek's 2012 masterpiece, Magnifica Presenza (Magnificent Presence), Buy plays an elegant and charming actress from a 1940's acting troupe that comes back from the dead, articulately and beautifully dressed from head to toe, to help solve the murder of her friend and fellow actress. The story line is a little over the top and you can tell that she genuinely had some fun with this role. The musical score mixed with the costumes and sumptuous design give this film an air of decadence and fantasy.

Her latest film, Io e lei is a love story about two women. Right now, it's the most popular film in Italy and just opened to rave reviews. Read my review here. Buy's character, Federica finds herself in love with a woman for the first time in her life and she is dealing with a whole host of emotions, shame being one of them. The beautiful aspect of her character is the innocence reflected by her genuine feelings of love. She doesn't see herself as a lesbian, just a woman in love. That innate ability to be a humble character with flaws is what makes Buy so special and her performances so convincing.

Margherita Buy works continuously creating character-driven performances that mirror the modern woman. She currently has four projects in production.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Interview- Independent Filmmaker Alessandro Colizzi on the move with 'Crushed Lives - Il sesso dopo i figli'

Director Alessandro Colizzi has been making films for years, but his latest project has earned him a great deal of international acclaim, bringing attention to the fine art of independent filmmaking. Crushed Lives - Il sesso dopo i figli is a hilarious portrait of parenthood, the God-given gift of children and life after these little angels enter the world.

The film first came to my attention this past Spring when it was shown at one of my favorite film festivals- the Rome Independent Film Festival (RIFF), a wonderful arena for independent filmmakers all over the world. The films shown at RIFF are honest, in-your-face stories made by filmmakers that refuse to stray from their vision in order to please financial backers. Upon seeing the trailer and various clips from Crushed Lives - Il sesso dopo i figli, I felt compelled to contact Colizzi to learn more about this film and his adventures as an independent filmmaker in Italy.

Our interview was done in Italian, so both versions are included.

First, tell me about your work as a director in both television and film.
The only work I've done in television is the documentary All women of Fassbinder on the role of women in the films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, a director who I adore but has unfortunately been a little forgotten. Everything else I've done has been for cinema.
My work as a director is closely related to writing. That's where I start when I begin thinking about a movie. The fact that I've also published two novels has had a direct impact on the preliminary phase of the scripts. In addition, I work with screenwriter, Silvia Cossu, who is very attentive  to the challenges of form as well as content.

In primo luogo, parlarmi del tuo lavoro di regista. Ho visto che hai lavorato in televisione e al cinema.
In realtà per la televisione ho girato solo "Tutte le donne di Fassbinder", un documentario sulla figura della donna nel cinema di Fassbinder, un regista che ho amato molto e che purtroppo è stato un po' dimenticato. Tutti gli altri lavori sono pensati per il cinema. 
Il mio lavoro di regista è strettamente legato alla scrittura, è da lì che parto quando comincio a pensare un film. Ho pubblicato anche due romanzi e questo influenza molto l'attenzione che cerco di mettere nella fase preliminare della sceneggiatura. In più collaboro con una sceneggiatrice, Silvia Cossu, che è anche lei una scrittrice molto attenta ai problemi di forma oltre che di contenuto.
Your new film, Crushed Lives - Il sesso dopo i figli has received a lot of attention and was shown at the Rome Independent Film Festival. Tell me about this film, and why you wanted to talk about couples after having children?
We initially had some trouble with Crushed Lives. We wrote it several years ago and we had planned a collaboration with RAI. But for various reasons, it was never made. Two years ago, I came across the script and thought it was worth a try to produce it. It's a politically incorrect comedy. It's a sharp film, quite different from my previous two. I felt that even though it had been sitting on the shelf for a while, the text had not lost its originality or its freshness. The dialogue is direct and poignant, talking about sex in a fun way, without prudery. With this film, we broke down the taboo (very Italian) of the untouchable sanctity of children. It was a real challenge. The idea was to be able to do it independently, and to make a low budget film entirely produced by us. We rewrote the script and we started to search for actors, which in itself was like performing acrobatics as we had to work with a small budget, just four weeks of shooting and a bare-bones crew. But in the end, everything went smoothly. To our surprise, after finishing the film, the first accolades came from the USA. Within a few months the film was in competition at the Cinequest Film Festival in San Jose, California and then at the World Fest-Houston, where it won a Gold Remi for comedy- and finally at the Comedy Film Festival in Los Angeles. Then, it was shown at the Uruguay International Film Festival in Montevideo and more recently at the RIFF Rome (Rome Independent Film Festival). The film is set to be distributed by the Cinemateca Uruguaya Montevideo in October.

Il tuo nuovo film, "Crushed Lives - Il sesso dopo i figli" ha ricevuto molti attenzioni ed è stato mostrato al Rome Independent Film Festival. Raccontami questo film e il motivo per cui volevi parlare di questa storia di vita delle coppie dopo avere figli?
Crushed Lives ha una storia un po' travagliata. E' un film che abbiamo scritto diversi anni fa e che dovevamo fare con la Rai. Per varie ragioni non si è più fatto. Due anni fa mi è capitato tra le mani lo script e mi sono detto che valeva la pena riprovare a metterlo su. Si tratta di una commedia scorretta, tagliente, un film decisamente diverso dai due precedenti. Sentivo che nonostante fosse passato del tempo, il testo non aveva perso la sua originalità, la sua freschezza. I dialoghi sono diretti, pungenti, si parla di sesso in modo divertente, senza pruderie. In più in questo film abbattiamo il tabù (molto italiano) dell'intoccabile sacralità dei figli. Una vera sfida. L'idea era di riuscire a farlo in modo indipendente, un low budget interamente prodotto da noi. Abbiamo riscritto la sceneggiatura e ci siamo messi a cercare gli attori, è stata un'operazione funambolica (budget esiguo, quattro settimane di riprese, truppe ridotta all'osso) ma alla fine tutto è filato liscio. Con nostra grande sorpresa, una volta terminato il film, le prime attenzioni sono arrivate proprio dagli USA. Nell'arco di un paio di mesi il film è stato preso in concorso al Cinequest Film Festival di San Jose (CA), poi al World-Fest Houston, dove ha vinto un Gold Remi per la commedia, e infine al Comedy Film Festival di Los Angeles. A questi Festival si è aggiunto l'Uruguay International Film Festival di Montevideo e solo alla fine il RIFF di Roma. Fra l'altro proprio in questi giorni abbiamo ricevuto la mail della Cinemateca Uruguaya che lo distribuirà a Montevideo a ottobre.
Tell me about the market for independent filmmakers in Italy. Do you feel that the Italian public supports independent cinema?
It is very difficult. Distributing an independent film without the support of a distributor is a challenging enterprise. Things have changed over the years. The distributor used to invest in the production of a film with a guaranteed minimum. Now, it's exactly the opposite. It is the producer who gives that sum of money to the distributor. Obviously, a small independent film can not afford  this kind of spending and therefore is cut out of the market. This means, releasing the film during the middle of the summer in very few theaters without a real premiere. This unfortunately is the situation. Regarding the public.. sure there is a handfull of people that go to see these films but without a budget, it's not easy to get the word out that your film indeed exists and is showing in theaters. 
Com’è il mercato di film indipendenti in Italia? Il pubblico italiano supporta cinema indipendente?
E' molto difficile. Distribuire un film indipendente senza l'appoggio di un distributore è un'impresa donchisciottesca. Negli anni le cose sono molto cambiate: prima il distributore partecipava alla produzione di un film con una somma di denaro, il famoso (e compianto) minimo garantito, ora è esattamente l'opposto: è il produttore che lo dà al distributore. Ovviamente un piccolo film indipendente non può permettersi di sostenere anche questa spesa e in questo modo è tagliato fuori dal mercato. Ciò significa uscire in sala (quando si riesce con le proprie forze) in piena estate, con pochissime copie, senza un vero lancio pubblicitario... Questa purtroppo è la situazione. Per quanto riguarda il pubblico... Bé, il pubblico ci sarebbe anche. Non tutti sono assuefatti all'omologazione che si tende a imprimere alla maggior parte dei prodotti, diciamo cosi, ufficiali. In giro, per fortuna, gente curiosa ce n'è  parecchia. Si tratta di una nicchia ovviamente. La cosa più difficile è raggiungere queste persone e fargli sapere che il tuo film esiste.
What do you think of the Independent Film Channel?
I think that any platform dedicated to the distribution of independent films should absolutely be supported.
Cosa ne pensi del nuovo Independent Film Channel?
Credo che ogni spazio dedicato alla diffusione di prodotti che presentino profili d'indipendenza, non solo economica ma anche di sguardo, sia assolutamente da sostenere.
Will Crushed Lives be available in America?
Seeing how the public reacted at the American film festivals, I strongly hope so. The way in which the Americans were laughing is something that we will never forget. Panther Films, a company based in Los Angeles, is the distributor that has shown the most interest. For now, let's start in Uruguay. Then we'll see.

"Crushed Lives" sarà disponibile al pubblico americano?
Visto come il pubblico ha reagito nei Festival americani, lo spero vivamente. Il modo in cui ridevano gli americani è qualcosa che ancora ci portiamo dentro. Il nostro distributore per l'estero fra l'altro è Pantera Film, una società con sede a Los Angeles Hollywood, che ha già diversi contatti. Intanto cominciamo dall'Uruguay, poi si vedrà.
We will keep you updated on distribution for Crushed Lives-Il sesso dopo i figli film. In the meantime,  visit the film's website. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Not your average love story- but maybe it is

Update May 23, 2016

Io e lei is headed to two North American film festivals and will be shown on the following dates:

Open Roads: New Italian Cinema at Lincoln Center
Thursday, June 2 at 6:00 followed by Q&A with director Maria Sole Tognazzi
Tuesday, June 7 at 1:30
Buy Tickets

Canada's Italian Contemporary Film Festival
June 10 @ 9:30pm TIFF - Toronto
June 14 @ 7:00pm Cinematheque Quebecois - Montreal
June 14 @ 5:00pm Cinema Cartier - Quebec City
Buy Tickets

With three high-profile Italian releases, Maria Sole Tognazzi's latest film, Io e lei took top spot at Italy's box office over the weekend, grossing a whopping 700,000 euros.

Io e lei is the story of two women in a relationship together, a relationship that is tumultuous at times and carefree at others. Margherita Buy and Sabrina Ferilli portray lovers, Federica and Marina in a way that puts love first and the fact that it's a same-sex relationship second. The two actresses have made the rounds all over Italian television answering questions relating to gay and lesbian relationships. But when I saw the film, that element was clearly secondary to the love and affection the two feel for each other. Perhaps Ferilli's description in an interview with Italian media best sums it-  a story about sentimentality rather than homosexuality.

Federica and Marina experience the myriad of emotions anyone feels while in a relationship and after it's over. Although they are happy together, they face the same challenges and obstacles that everyone faces whether they are heterosexual or homosexual- insecurity, fear of abandonment, envy.. that whole dark side that comes with loving someone.

Although the film is being called a comedy, I really didn't feel at all like I was watching a comedy. Perhaps something was lost in translation for me, but I really felt sadness for the characters- sadness for Buy's character trying to overcome her shame of being in a relationship with a woman, as it was her first time, and sadness for Ferilli's character in dealing with the consequences of that shame. The film seemed more like a drama with comedy relief because while the characters were riding a rollarcoaster of emotions, the writers definitely managed to slip in some hilarious moments, taking full advantage of actor Ennio Fantastichini's limitless talent for comedy.

Director Tognazzi with her stars Buy and Ferilli at the Rome premiere
The casting for Io e lei was impeccable. Each character, whether supporting or leading fit perfectly into their role. I enjoyed the closing scene which showed some shameless male bonding and one last laugh for the road. This film will undoubedtly cross Italian borders and I imagine it will do great in the United States. Maria Sole Tognazzi along with her team of talented writers struck the right chord in balancing a serious, relevant social topic with a simple love story that really has nothing to do with gender. For me, that is the aspect I appreciate most about this film.

Watch the trailer..

Saturday, October 3, 2015

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...