Follow us on Social Media

Sunday, January 31, 2016

To mark the Carnevale of Satriano in Lucania.. We revisit my interview with Filmmaker Michelangelo Frammartino

A scene from "Alberi"

It's an ancient ritual that started during the middle ages but was eventually abandoned by younger generations. In recent years, that ancient tradition, called "Foresta Che Cammina" (the forest that walks) has been making a comeback exactly where it began all those centuries ago- in the village of Satriano di Lucania, located in the region of  Basilicata.  

Filmmaker Michelangelo Frammartino made a film about this ritual and presented it as an installation a few years ago at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. "Alberi" (Trees) tells the story of this old ritual that took place during Italian Carnevale when the men of the village would cover themselves in leaves, transforming into mystical walking trees. Frammartino recaptures the ancient rite in a reenactment that won over New York audiences. According to Frammartino, “Basilicata is home to numerous arboreal rites. Trees are not just figures in the background, they are protagonists, they are the center, what gives meaning to the festival and above that, to life. I found this to be incredibly interesting.”

Watch scenes from "Albero" and the presentation in New York..

Michelangelo Frammartino's work is based  on the connection between man and nature. The foundation of this connection dates back to about 570 – 495 BC when the ancient Ionian Greek philosopher and mathematician, Pythagoras lived. He believed that our soul is reincarnated four times into the bodies of humans, animals, minerals and vegetables until it ultimately becomes immortal.

A scene from "Le Quattro volte"
This theory was the basis for Frammartino's 2010 film, "jLe quattro volte" (Four Times). The film is insightful and poetic in its message and visual landscape. It is raw and direct in its depiction of the connection between man, animals and nature. The New York Times described the film as "an idiosyncratic and amazing film so full of surprises - nearly every shot contains a revelation."

I caught up with Michelangelo Frammartino while he was in New York promoting "Alberi". He told me about this connection to nature and how his education in architecture influences his work.

 The Ionian Coast of Caulonia in Calabria
You come from the north, but your films were shot in southern Italy; Basilicata and Calabria in particular. What is your fascination with this part of Italy?I was born in the north, in Milan, but my family is from Calabria. Both my parents come from a small town on the Ionian coast called Caulonia. This is where I spent my summers as a child, and where I experienced a sense of freedom and deep fusion with nature and everything around me.

Nature is an important part of your work. Tell me about this attachment that you have to nature and how it helps you to express yourself artistically.
We men tend to consider nature solely as a nice background to our events, or in the best cases, a resource at our disposal. We tend to forget the origins of nature and that it is deeply related to other species. I love to work on this unspoken bond. With this philosophy, I am more challenged to "shoot" and film scenes more creatively.

In your film, "Le quattro volte", what is the significance of the number four? Why four times?
Approximately twenty-five hundred years ago, the first philosopher, Pythagoras lived in Crotone in Calabria. A phrase that is attributed to him reads as follows:
"There will be four of us in the next life, embedded one inside the other. Man is a mineral because he consists of salts, water and mineral substances. Man is a vegetable, because as a plant eats, breathes and reproduces, so does he. Man is an animal with imagination, memory and knowledge of the external world. Man is also a rational being, because he has will and reason. We have four distinct lives in us and we should live four times."

A scene from "Alberi"
What inspired you to make your latest film, "Alberi" and tell the story of this ancient ritual?
I discovered these arboreal cults during the making of "Le quattro volte" and I was very fascinated by them. So I began to do research in Basilicata where they originate, and I found this wonderful mask belonging to the hermit of Satriano di Lucania. It was a perfect fusion of man and nature. I was never in the presence of something that so deeply represented our connection to the land and to the world.

You studied architecture in college. Does that background influence your films?
I find that there are many elements in common between these disciplines. For example, the idea of a narrative can be found in both. A movie is a place where the viewer enters and spends time, and you can say the same about a building.

Do you plan to continue with this theme of nature in your future projects?
Sure, there is the possibility that "Alberi" could evolve and become a feature film.

This year's edition of the Carnevale of Satriano in Lucania will take place on 6 and 7 February. Click here for more information on the festival. Watch last year's promo...

Click here to purchase or stream "Le Quattro Volte".

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Valeria Bruni Tedeschi's "Les Trois soeurs" to make its U.S. premiere at Lincoln Center

Valeria Bruni Tedeschi steps behind the camera for "Les Trois soeurs" (Three Sisters)- an idiosyncratic, half-modernized adaptation of one of Chekhov’s greatest, most expansively melancholy plays.
For her latest project, commissioned by Arte and starring members of the Comédie-Française, director Valeria Bruni Tedeschi presents the three sisters of the title- two unmarried, one unhappily married- as they congregate in their family’s ancestral house and, along with the additional soldiers, debtors, pensioners, and spouses who populate the play, struggle to give their futures a shape. From a translation by André Markowicz and Françoise Morvan, the film will make its U.S. premiere at Lincoln Center's 21st edition of "Rendez-Vous with French Cinema", which will take place March 3-13.

“This year’s lineup exemplifies the diverse creativity coming out of the country year-round, including a record eight films directed by women,” explains the Film Society of Lincoln Center Associate Director of Programming Florence Almozini. Tickets go on sale Thursday, February 18, with early access for Film Society members beginning Thursday, February 11. Fore more information, visit

"Three Sisters" will be shown on March 9 at 3:30pm and March 11 at 6:30pm. Purchase tickets here.

The prodigious, natural talent of Basilicata-born visual artist Walter Molfese

At just 26 years old and with no formal education in filmmaking, Walter Molfese is getting worldwide recognition for his stunning portraits of the land he loves. From the abandoned town of Craco to the seaside pearl of the Tyrrhenian known as Maratea to the volcano-nestled lakes of Mount Vulture to the mountainous, rolling terrain of Pollino, Molfese’s work is the visual testimony as to why the pure, vast landscape of Basilicata is emerging not only as Italy’s land of cinema but as a newly discovered tourist destination for adventure-seeking travelers.

Aside from his independent works, Molfese is also involved with a national video project called, "Italia Senza Tempo" (Timeless Italy). Its mission is to show the hidden side of the peninsula and the Mediterranean nature that makes it unique. “Italia Senza Tempo” consists of places considered jewels of the world heritage and protected accordingly. They are places where time seems to come to a standstill and where the hand of man is nonexistent. They’re enchanting, magical places where the rhythms of nature are marked by the rising and setting sun and by the stars. Molfese works on “Italia Senza Tempo” with filmmaker Angelo Chiacchio and together, they have created beautiful portraits of places like Pollino, Monte Vulture and Maratea. Molfese’s solo projects include a breathtaking time-lapse video on Craco and short news vignettes for his Artigiani Quotidiani series.  

I spoke with Walter Molfese about these videos- how he creates them and where he finds his inspiration. Our interview was done in Italian, so both versions are included. 

How did you begin making these videos?
I started making videos a few years ago, and coming from a photography background made it easy. I took the approach to video using the technique of time-lapse. With each video I made, I was more drawn to the moving image and then it became my favorite form of visual art. 
Come hai cominciato a fare questi video?
Ho cominciato a fare video qualche anno fa e provenendo dalla fotografia è stato semplice avvicinarmi ad un video realizzato con la tecnica del timelapse. Dopodiché il video ha cominciato ad attirarmi sempre di più e quindi è diventata la mia arte visiva preferita. 

What is your process of making these videos? Do you scout locations before starting or do you choose the locations while you are there working?
Before making a video, I always try to imagine the scene that I'm going to shoot and all roadblocks that I may encounter as well as the benefits of shooting in that particular location. After a brief inspection, I try to take inspiration from what lies in front of me. I try to understand and capture what moves me the most. 

Come fai le riprese? Qual è il tuo processo? Cerchi le posizioni prima di iniziare? O scegli le posizioni mentre stai sul posto di lavoro?
Prima di realizzare un video cerco di immaginare sempre la scena che andrò a riprendere e tutte le problematiche e i punti di forza che essa avrà. Dopo un breve sopralluogo cerco di farmi ispirare dal luogo o dalla persona che ho di fronte, cercando di riuscire a riprendere ciò che mi attira di più. 

How many hours of video do you shoot?
It depends on the project itself. One hour of video is usually enough if I’m shooting a single site like Craco or making a portrait of artisan newspapers. However, for the “Senza Tempo” series where it was full-immersion in a park, I shot for 5-6 days. 

Quante ore di video devi girare?
Le ore di video dipendono da cosa e in che modo sto realizzando il video stesso: può bastare un’ora di video quando realizzo un video dedicato per esempio ad un luogo come Craco o un ritratto di Artigiani Quotidiani, mentre servono 5-6 giorni di riprese e una full immersion nel parco selezionato se realizzo video per Italia Senza Tempo. 

Molfese at Serra di Crispo in Parco Nazionale del Pollino
What inspires you to make a film? For example, why Craco and Pollino?
I chose Craco and Pollino because they are part of my land, Basilicata, that I love deeply. I was born near the Pollino National Park, so it was a very easy choice for me. I made the video of Craco because I have always been fascinated by abandoned places, buildings and areas. So, Craco is really the best place you could wish for. The inspiration came from what I saw firsthand when I visited the town, and then what I wanted to show my viewers. 

Qual è la tua ispirazione per fare un video? Per esempio.. perché hai scelto Craco e Pollino?
Craco e Pollino li ho scelti perché fanno parte della mia terra che amo profondamente, la Basilicata. Io sono nato nel Parco del Pollino quindi è stato molto semplice per me scegliere di riprenderlo. Craco invece perché sono sempre stato affascinato dai luoghi, edifici, o zone abbandonate e Craco è il miglior posto che si possa desiderare per questo. L’ispirazione nasce da ciò che mi piacerebbe vedere in primis a me di quel posto, e poi quello che mi piacerebbe mostrare alle persone che poi guarderanno i miei video. 

How do you choose the music?
I listen to music a lot during the day, especially instrumental music (mostly electronic or classical). The music has to be impactful. For me, the video is composed of 70% music and 30% images. A video is successful only if the pairing of music and images compliment each other. 

Come scegli la musica?
Ascolto molta musica al giorno, soprattutto musica solo strumentale (elettronica o classica che sia). La musica deve essere di forte impatto. Per me il video è composto il 70% dalla musica e 30% dalle immagini: un video vince solo se l’accoppiata musica e immagini è vincente. 

Molfese on location at Torrente Peschiera
What do you have planned for the future?
In the future, I hope to move forward and have the ability to work on projects that I enjoy. I hope that I will continue to have the desire to discover, develop and improve myself more and more. I will definitely make more videos for “Italy Senza Tempo” and I will try to speak of the lesser-known areas of Italy with some other abandoned towns. I would like to speak more specifically to my region of Basilicata and I hope that I will have enough curiosity to uncover something new.  
Quali sono i tuoi progetti per il futuro?
Nel futuro spero di portare avanti tutti i progetti che mi piacciono e che ancora mi fanno avere la voglia di scoprire, realizzare e migliorarmi sempre di più. Sicuramente andrò avanti a realizzare video per Italia Senza Tempo, cercherò di raccontare le zone meno conosciute della nostra Italia con qualche altro paese abbandonato, vorrei raccontare in un video un po’ particolare la mia Basilicata e spero di avere la curiosità di raccontare qualcosa di nuovo. 

Visit Walter Molfese’s website to see all of his work and follow him on Twitter and Instagram. Click here to follow "Italia Senza Tempo" on YouTube and here to see them on Vimeo..

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Le Festival du Cinéma Italien 30 January - 6 February

Combining the old with the new, France's Le Festival du Cinéma Italien begins on Saturday and will feature a diverse roster of Italian filmmakers like Edoardo Leo, Francesca Archibugi, Sergio Castellitto, Lamberto Sanfelice, the Taviani Brothers and Vittorio De Sica just to name a few.

The festival has three main programs: Competition, Panorama and the Great Maestros. There will be 12 films in the main competition this year, another eight in the competitive Panorama program and seven films in the Great Maestro. I found it interesting that several contemporaries- Nanni Moretti, Marco Bellocchio, Ermanno Olmi and the Taviani brothers, made the Maestro program.

Click here to view the complete schedule.

Nessuno si salva da solo
Films in Competition
Alaska - Claudio Cupellini
La terra dei santi - Fernando Muraca
Scusate se esisto! - Riccardo Milani
Se Dio vuole - Edoardo Falcone
 Una storia sbagliata - Gianluca Maria Taralli
L’ attesa - Piero Messina
Cloro - Lamberto Sanfelice
Il nome del figlio - Francesca Archibugi
L’ Oriana - Marco Turco
Io e lei di Maria Sole Tognazzi
Io, arlecchino - Matteo Bini, Giorgio Pasotti
Nessuno si salva da solo - Sergio Castellitto

Umberto D.
Films in other various programs
In guerra  - Davide Sibaldi
Noi e la giulia - Edoardo Leo
Per amor vostro di Giuseppe Gaudino
Il ragazzo invisibile - Gabriele Salvatores
Suburra di Stefano Sollima
Banana - Andrea Jublin
Anche libero va bene - Kim Rossi Stuart
Umberto D. - Vittorio De Sica

Friday, January 22, 2016

Casa del Cinema Presents "Cinema Without Barriers" - a Program of Italian films for the Deaf

"Gli ultimi saranno ultimi"
Sunday, 24 January, the Casa del Cinema will launch its program of Italian films for the deaf. With the support of the Istituto Luce – Cinecittà and the cooperation of the Italian National Agency for the Protection and Assistance of the Deaf (ENS), over the Sundays of weeks to come, new Italian films will be made accessible to the deaf, with the help of writers, actors and technicians. The films, chosen at the suggestion of the ENS, will be subtitled, and Italian Sign Language interpreters will also be on hand.
24 January - "Gli ultimi saranno ultimi" by Massimiliano Bruno
28 February - "Alaska"  by Claudio Cupellini
13 March - "Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot" by Gabriele Mainetti 
8 May - Call Me Francesco by Daniele Luchetti

The films were chosen at the suggestion of the ENS from among those released globally and selected for international festivals. The complete programme is available at here.

In Italian:


Il primo programma di cinema italiano dedicato alle persone sorde.
Per la prima volta in Italia,
una rassegna di film contemporanei
per abbattere una barriera di fruizione del cinema

Le proiezioni avranno luogo la domenica mattina alle ore 11.00 nella Sala Deluxe e
saranno gratuite con accesso alla sala fino ad esaurimento dei posti disponibili

"Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot "
Si inaugura domenica 24 gennaio, alla Casa del Cinema, un programma sperimentale di cinema italiano dedicato alle persone sorde. Grazie al supporto di Istituto Luce – Cinecittà e in collaborazione con l’Ente Nazionale per la protezione e l’assistenza dei Sordi (ENS), per quattro domeniche il nuovo cinema italiano si rende accessibile ai sordi, con la partecipazione di autori, attori e tecnici dei film selezionati.

Il primo film della rassegna, aperta anche al pubblico nei limiti dei posti disponibili, è Gli ultimi saranno gli ultimi di Massimiliano Bruno. Seguiranno Alaska di Claudio Cupellini (il 28 febbraio), Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot di Gabriele Mainetti (il 13 marzo) e Chiamatemi Francesco di Daniele Luchetti (in programma domenica 8 maggio).  I film, messi a disposizione da Cinecittà – Istituto Luce con il supporto delle case produttrici e distributrici) sono stati scelti, su indicazione dell’ENS, tra quelli oggi promossi nel mondo e selezionati dai festival internazionali.

“Pensiamo che appartenga ai compiti della Casa del Cinema – dice il direttore Giorgio Gosetti – offrire servizi nella linea dei supporti all’accessibilità e mettere in valore anche il cinema italiano più recente creando le condizioni perché anche comunità di pubblico abitualmente escluse dalla fruizione possano apprezzare il lavoro degli autori, degli interpreti e dei tecnici che oggi danno luce al nostro cinema. Siamo grati a Istituto Luce – Cinecittà per aver lanciato quest’idea e per sostenerla con un impegno concreto, ma ancor più all’ENS che ha scelto di collaborare con noi aprendo a Roma uno spazio del tutto inedito”.

L’iniziativa sarà presentata da Giuseppe Petrucci (Presidente Nazionale ENS), Roberto Cicutto (Presidente di Istituto Luce – Cinecittà) e Giorgio Gosetti (direttore della Casa del Cinema) mercoledì 20 gennaio alle ore 11 alla Casa del Cinema.

Unique Documentary Geared towards the Blind to Hit Italian Theaters in February

It's been called a film to watch with your eyes closed. “The Color of Grass” by Juliane Biasi Hendel, a delicate road movie about two young blind friends, will open in Italian theaters in February.
The film, which had its Italian premiere on 18 January in Torino, will be screened in all the main Italian cities in February. “The Color of Grass” offers a one-of-a-kind sensory experience by constructing an audio landscape,  which makes it possible to watch the film with your eyes closed. Made to cater for blind audiences too, "The Color of Grass" technical team includes sound designer Mirco Mencacci, who created a world of sound that immerses the audience into both the physical and emotional worlds of its young protagonists. For the first time in the history of cinema, we have a film that unites blind people and able-sighted people together in a viewing experience.

Ridendo e scherzando by Paola and Silvia Scola in Italian Theaters February 1st

Ettore Scola and PIF
On the first and second of February, 01 Distribution will helm a momentous launch of the documentary directed by Ettore Scola’s daughters Paola and Silvia, after he passed away on Tuesday.

"Ridendo e scherzando" (Laughing and Joking), the documentary written and directed by Paola and Silvia Scola about their father, Ettore, who passed away on 19 January, will hit screens on the first two days of February through a momentous release, courtesy of 01 Distribution.
Presented at the Rome Film Fest last October, the film is a story told at close quarters, a long “Amarcord” examining all of Ettore Scola’s films, the very best of Italian cinema. It was made using a huge amount of archive material, family videos and unseen backstage footage from the sets of his movies.  

The long, fascinating story is told by none other than Scola himself, using the key element from all of his works: that of discussing serious topics in a light-hearted, jokey way. Only the interviews that the director gave over the years were used, and the film never resorts to the testimonials of others. The only exception to this rule is Pif (not your usual interviewer), who follows the trail, piecing together the tiles of an immense mosaic. Fifty years of film are recounted with wit and levity, as we discover the artistic, private and sometimes secret lives of one of the masters of Italian cinema.
- By

Interview: Maya Breschi on New Italian Cinema Events (N.I.C.E.) and 25 years of Italian cinema in America

Italian cinema's popularity has been gaining ground over the last decade, especially in America. With film festivals and series popping up all over the country, Americans are getting numerous opportunities to see some of the best contemporary movies being made in Italy today. One of the oldest and most respected of those festivals is N.I.C.E. (New Italian Cinema Events). I've been attending N.I.C.E. for over a decade now and I can attest to the quality and diversity in its lineups year after year.

The festival celebrated its 25th anniversary in November, giving me a great reason to catch up with one of its organizers, Maya Breschi, for an in depth look at what N.I.C.E. is all about.

Let's start at the beginning since you are celebrating the festival's 25th anniversary this year. How did the festival get started? How has it evolved to what it is today?
N.I.C.E. is a Florence-based non-for-profit cultural organization founded by a group of film professionals back in 1991 as an evolution of the at-the-time Florence Film Festival, to become, over the past 25 years, one of the most relevant and appreciated international showcases of the up-and-coming Italian cinema happening annually in the United States, Russia and China.

In addition to holding annual festivals abroad, N.I.C.E. facilitates the regular meeting between the Italian directors attending the festivals and selected local producers and distributors, serving as crucial trait-d’union for the access of the most valuable Italian film projects into the global market.

N.I.C.E. also regularly invites all Italian filmmakers traveling with their films to hold interactive meetings at a selection of local universities and academic institutions as a unique opportunity for the local students to interact informally with a new generation of Italian filmmakers.

As part of our mission, N.I.C.E. is also committed to promoting the territory and culture of the Tuscan Region through the “Città di Firenze” Award. Presented to the winning film of each year’s N.I.C.E. competition, the prize is assigned, through voting ballots, by the festival’s U.S. audience, with the aim to draw the national and international attention to quality and independent Italian films. 

Over the last 25 years, do you know if there were waves of popularity with Italian cinema in America? It seems that in this period, it's gaining popularity and there are many new releases that are getting U.S. distribution. 
U.S. audiences seem to have had a love-hate relationship with Italian cinema in the past 25 years, which is directly reflected by the country’s fluctuating distribution of Italian content. Among some of the most popular yet very often unreleased Italian films, I would like to briefly mention and pay tribute to the 25 titles that won the N.I.C.E. City of Florence since 1991: Mediterranea by Jonas Carpignano (2015), The Medicine Seller by Antonio Morabito (2014), Out of the Blue by Edoardo Leo (2013), Shun Li and the Poet by Andrea Segre (2012), The first Assignment by Giorgia Cecere (2011), 18 Years Later by Edoardo Leo (2010) , Sea Purple by Donatella Maiorca (2009), Lessons in Chocolate by Claudio Cupellini (2008), The Ball by Claudio Antonini (2007), What the Hell Am I Doing Here! By Francesco Amato (2006), Unnatural by Alessandro Tofanelli (2005), Runaway by Andrea Manni (2004), I Am Emma by Francesco Falaschi (2003), Let’s Have the Truth about Love by Francesco Apolloni (2002), Rebels by Chance by Vincenzo Terracciano (2001), An Affair of Love by Gianluca Maria Tavarelli (2000), In the Beginning There Was Underwear by Anna Negri (1999), Belleville by Marco Turco (1998), Pizzicata by Edoardo Winspeare (1997), Pianese Nunzio: 14 in May by Antonio Capuano (1996), Strange Stories by Sandro Baldoni (1995), Like Two Crocodiles by Giacomo Campiotti (1994), Manila Paloma Bianca by Daniele Segre (1993), Death of a Neapolitan Mathematician by Mario Martone (1992). 

There are a lot of festivals popping up dedicated to Italian cinema. What sets N.I.C.E. apart from them?
The above-mentioned list of the 25 past recipients of the N.I.C.E. City of Florence award is in itself a pretty eloquent description of the festival’s uniqueness as a long-lasting showcase of contemporary and independent Italian cinema. By showcasing the directorial debuts of a number of artists who have built their recognition worldwide over the years, N.I.C.E. has the long-lasting mission to present a diversified selection of films in competition, offering entertainment, while opening a window on the complex architecture of Italy’s modern society. Together with special tributes and retrospectives dedicated to selected masterpieces of the Italian film history, each year’s seven feature-length debut films are selected among over 80 titles produced in Italy yearly and screened in local theatres during a series of film festivals and cultural exchanges across the United States, Russia and China.  

The last edition had some great diversity. What was the process of choosing the lineup?
N.I.C.E.’s selection committee, featuring well-respected international festival programmers and film critics, does an incredible job every year in going through the latest Italian film production to select the seven most valuable and deserving new voices in contemporary Italian cinema to be showcased internationally through N.I.C.E.’s annual festivals. Our long-lasting challenge and mission is to offer a diversified and high-quality programming in tune with the taste and sensitivity of our international audiences, while showcasing and supporting Italian newcomers and their first or second feature-length films across the United States, Russia and China.

The very nature of the N.I.C.E. competitions is to feature the work of first and second-time directors who are as talented as they are often unknown to the local public and industry. Three our of this year’s USA competing films were comedies: God Willing (Se Dio Vuole) by Edoardo Falcone, Partly Cloudy (With Sunny Spells) (Tempo instabile… con probabili schiarite) by Marco Pontecorvo and starring John Turturro, and Italo by Alessia Scarso. In addition, we have included four dramas: Chlorine (Cloro) by Lamberto Sanfelice, Io, Arlecchino by Matteo Bini and Giorno Pasotti, My name is Maya (Mi chiamo Maya) by Tommaso Agnese, and Mediterranea by Jonas Carpignano.

N.I.C.E. homeland, Tuscany, did also have a special place in this year’s programming, being the setting for films such as Wondrous Boccaccio by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani and Leopardi (Il Giovane Favoloso) by Mario Martone, and other special events in San Francisco feature Mia Madre by Nanni Moretti and Youth (La Giovinezza) by Oscar-winner Paolo Sorrentino. 

What were some of the highlights of the 25th edition?
Welcoming and meeting John Turturro for our opening night screening of Tempo instabile by Marco Pontecorvo at the SVA Theatres on November 20th was indeed one of my personal highlights this year, followed by our sold-out screenings at the Anthology Film Archives over the weekend. Thanks to this year’s unprecedented audience attendance and support, we really did have a wonderful 25th anniversary in the city! 

What do you see in the festival's future?
Our US showcase, held in New York City, San Francisco and more recently in Washington D.C. and Philadelphia in mid-November, represents the oldest series to have ever been organized by N.I.C.E. and the first to take place every year (followed by the festival in Russia, generally happening between the months of March and April). Thanks to a precious and long-lasting partnership with the San Francisco Film Society, N.I.C.E. has become the one and only film series focusing on contemporary Italian cinema to be successfully held and yearly awaited in San Francisco and we look forward to presenting a new selection of Italian film debuts next year. Same goes for our showcases in Washington D.C. and Philadelphia, successfully happened for the second time this year.

In vibrant and ever-changing New York City, N.I.C.E. has held screenings and events in a wider selection of independent film venues, including the Anthology Film Archives, Tribeca Cinemas, MoMa, Quad Cinema, Angelika Film Center, Papp Public Theater, the IFC Center, The Lincoln Center, BAM Rose Cinemas, and AMC, and we are now on the lookout for the next popular location for next year, as well as a possible East coast film partner to officially welcome onboard.

In addition, we are considering expanding our U.S. tour to more cities, probably on the East coast and, possibly, to add another country too.   

How can filmmakers submit their work for upcoming editions of N.I.C.E.?
N.I.C.E.’s  annual competition is open to any first or second-time Italian directors and all guidelines and application forms are available on our website:

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Pietro Marcello's "Lost and beautiful" Named an Official Selection for the Film Society of Lincoln Center's New Directors/New Films Festival

"Lost and Beautiful" (Bella e perduta) caught my attention last year when it was shown at the Toronto Film Festival. Now it's been named in the early selections of the 45th edition of the New Directors/New Films Festival hosted by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, which will be held March 16-27 in New York City. This screening will be its American premiere and will be shown on March 23 and 24.

"Pietro Marcello continues his intrepid work along the borderline of fiction and documentary with this beautiful and beguiling film. Shot on expired 16mm film stock and freely incorporating archival footage and folkloric tropes, it begins as a portrait of the shepherd Tommaso, a local hero in the Campania region of southern Italy, who volunteered to look after the abandoned Bourbon palace of Carditello despite the state’s apathy and threats from the Mafia. Tommaso suffers a fatal heart attack in the course of shooting, and Marcello’s bold and generous response is to grant his subject’s dying wish: for a Pulcinella straight out of the commedia dell’arte to appear on the scene and rescue a buffalo calf from the palace. With Lost and Beautiful, a documentary that soars into the realm of myth, Marcello has crafted a uniquely multifaceted and enormously moving work of political cine-poetry. "

Film Society and MoMA members may purchase tickets starting at noon on Monday, February 29. Tickets will be available for purchase by the general public at noon on Friday, March 4. For more information, visit

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Basilicata: Terra di Cinema - Interview - Actress/Director Emanuela Ponzano on her film "La Slitta" (The Sled)

Shot in the region of Basilicata, the story of La Slitta follows Alfred, a child who lives with his family in the woods near an isolated village in the mountains of Italy. His parents have strong prejudices against immigrants. Bored and unhappy, they often quarrel, and they pay little attention to their son and usually disregard his needs for attention and affection. One day, wishing to get away from this oppressive atmosphere, Alfred disobeys his father’s strict orders for him to stay at home and he leaves the house to go and see his classmates. On his journey through the woods he gets lost and he comes across a wooden sled and its owner, a young boy from another country who seems strange and different, and who Alfred has sometimes seen around the village. After an initial clash, in which they project the prejudices of their parents and society onto each other, they tell each other about their lives. They soon start to relate to each other and understand each other’s problems. Thanks to the sled, Alfred will have his first experience of a genuine relationship with another person.

I spoke with producer, director and actress, Emanuela Ponzano about the inspiration behind this film and its relevant social message.

La Slitta is a beautiful story about the human condition and the challenges in growing up. Why did you want to tell the story of this boy and his isolation?
Having been born abroad and personally having had a fair share of the many forms given to the word “immigrant”, I have chosen to direct my attention to the question of racism, which seems to have made a predominant come-back to our country and in the rest of Europe. According to the richly informative “Report on racism in Italy” relative to recent years, it appears that the current situation is not one to be taken lightly. The rhetoric of “foreigners stealing our jobs” is what fuels anger towards immigrants. Thus, in recent years, thanks to a spreading sense of foreboding caused by growing job insecurity combined with an incessant and alarmist media campaign, the migratory fluxes from North Africa and Eastern Europe have become targets of a new and disquieting form of hostility. My motivation for wanting to make this film is the desire to write and direct a short movie that is authentic, from the heart, and accessible to everyone; educational in the sense that it will deal with important issues such as racism and communication barriers between children and parents, as well as the indoctrination that children receive as part of their upbringing, which can indeed include racist inclinations that they are not yet able to discern. It’s about solitude, about dealing with and listening to other people, about dreams of a better life.

With Emanuela Ponzano at the Bella Basilicata Film Festival
Tell me about the symbolism of the sled?
The surreal component in the form of the “Sled”, as well as being the symbol of a downhill journey and a way out, lifts the film from its realistic narrative plane and allows it to add the intimate dimension of a child’s world and imagination. The sled and its owner, an Albanian boy (with his good sides and bad, as with everyone) are Alfred’s new friends. Through sport and games you can unite two different cultures.
In addition to being the director, you play the part of the mother. What are the challenges in directing yourself?
Well it’s not easy at all. A lot of work goes into directing, leaving little time to concentrate on  acting.  So I worked a lot beforehand, and on set, I chose a good technical team. 

I noticed the internationally diverse cast. What is the Albanian connection?
Well Riccardo Specchio who plays the main character is half Italian and half Albanian and it is a wonderful coincidence. I chose to talk about Albania because they were the first immigrants to arrive in Italy 30 years ago. People are more apt to understand now because they've known each other for a longer time. It would be more difficult talking about Syrian people now. There's still too much confusion.

Why did you choose Basilicata as its location?
Well Basilicata came to me. I met  lot of people from Basilicata and the Film Commission was interested in my story. And when I first saw Monte Sirino I was shocked by the beauty and the immensity of the mountains.

Ponzano during Q&A at the Bella Basilicata Film Festival
Is distribution in place for the film?

Festival distribution, yes. The world premiere for "la Slitta" will be in Belgium at the 32 FIFA Festival International du film d’Amour de Mons on 24 February, and I’m happy about that.

Born in Brussels, Emanuela Ponzano is an actress and director in both cinema and theatre. She divides her time working mainly between Rome, Paris and Brussels. In 1995, having completed her degree in Political Science at the ULB in Brussels, Ponzano decided to dedicate herself completely to theatre and film. She worked for a cultural program for radio  and studied dramatic arts at the Conservatoire Royal in Liège with Jacques Delcuvellerie (Groupov- Rwanda 94-Ecole des Maitres) and Max Parfondry, where she attained the diploma de Premier Prix in June 2000.

Ponzano has directed a number of films. In 2008, she directed the experimental short film "Bagnasciuga" and the short film "Riflessi". They have since been shown at many national and international festivals and won three National prizes in 2010. "La Slitta" is her
second short narrative fiction film. She is currently developing the script for her first feature.
We will keep you posted on future distribution for La Slitta. In the meantime, check out the trailer and follow the film on Facebook.

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...