In the category Best Italian Film...
Set in the 1950's to the present day, A diecimilalire A diecimilalire is a poignant film about survival, nostalgia and the hard realities of life. The director
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Un paese quasi perfetto was adapted from Jean-François Pouliot’s 2003 Quebec-made comedy, "La grande séduction" which was set in a small Canadian harbor. Un paese quasi perfetto takes place in the visually-stunning town of Castelmezzano nestled in the Dolomite mountains of Basilicata.
The plot in Gaudioso’s film is the same as the original, only the setting has changed. Un paese quasi perfetto is the story of nearly desperate, but enthusiastic people in dire need of jobs. Most depend on measly government checks to get by. Provoked by the determination of one fed-up inhabitant named Domenico, the town works together to convince the CEO of a factory to build a plant in the town. The biggest requirement is the town must have a residing doctor. And so begins the great adventure to find and convince their chosen big-city Milanese plastic surgeon to pack his bags and set up shop in Castelmezzano. Through briberies, the town beauty and phone tapping, everyone pitches in to help realize their dream of getting back to work. Boasting an all-star cast, which includes the likes of Silvio Orlando, Fabio Volo, Carlo Buccirosso and Miriam Leone, it's no surprise to find this on the David short list. For an insider's perspective.. check out my interview with director Massimo Gaudioso.
Ustica by Renzo Martinelli is the story of the events that led up to a plane crash that took place in the Mediterranean Sea on June 27, 1980. That evening at 8.59 pm, a DC9 belonging to the private Italian airline ITAVIA disappeared from radar without launching any emergency signal. The airplane was flying at cruise speed at an altitude of 7,600 meters, along the airway “AMBRA 13” when it suddenly crashed around the “CONDOR” point between the islands of Ponza and Ustica, sinking in the “Tyrrhenian trench”, which is 3,500 meters deep. All 81 people onboard died, including 14 children. The wreckage and bodies that were recovered indicate something happened to the aircraft while in the air, whether that be an explosion or collision. Evidence shows the plane broke into two main sections. Many hypothesis have been raised to explain the possible cause of the crash such as structural failure of the airplane, a bomb in the rear bathroom, a missile or a mid-air collision with an American fighter jet, which is explored in depth in the film. As we see in the film, the few workers who actually saw what happened with their own eyes mysteriously died in the months following the crash. Several scenes were shot in the Basilicata towns of Maratea and Trecchina with local actors appearing in the film, including Nando Irene. Read my review for the Toronto premiere at the 2016 Italian Contemporary Film Festival.
Veloce come il vento by Matteo Rovere is based on a true story. Set in Imola, home of the epic race car track and also on the outskirts of Matera in Basilicata, the film portrays the conflicts of one family whose history in the business of racing is long standing and complex. Giulia De Martino, played by Matilda De Angelis, is a 17-year-old responsible for taking care of her family since her mother left. A novice racecar driver, she is struggling with carrying on the family name of racing champions while trying to make ends meet at home. In order to raise the money to save the family’s house, she must win a very important race. So she enlists her brother’s help, played passionately by Stefano Accorsi. Once a champion himself, he has succumbed to a life of drug addiction. However, his vast knowledge of cars and what it takes to win are just what his little sister needs to be victorious. Read my interview with the director of photography, Michele D'attanasio.
Montedoro is one of the most talked-about films to come out of Basilicata in recent years. I've been fortunate to have attended three screenings in New York, Rome and Basilicata. The film's team have worked tirelessly to promote this film about an American woman tracing her roots back to a deserted village in the region. I've done a number of stories on this film beginning in March of 2015 when it first came to the United States, making its premiere at the Atlanta Film Festival. Check out these stories for more information on Montedoro..
In the category Best Foreign Film..The 2016 remake of the Hollywood epic Ben Hur by director Timur Bekmambetov was shot in the Sassi of Matera and at Cinecittà studios in Rome. The remake stars Jack Huston in the lead role of Judah Ben-Hur, who survives years of slavery to avenge a hurtful betrayal, and Morgan Freeman, who described Matera as an “extraordinary city and magical." The film received less than rave reviews in the United States, but that doesn't take away from the intense, action-filled scenes that were carefully orchestrated using numerous locals in Basilicata. Read here about the filming in Matera.
In the category Best Documentary Film..The Family Whistle by Michele Russo Salfi is the story of Frances Ford Coppola's Basilicata origins told by his actual cousin still living in the region. It just so happens that Coppola's distant cousins in Bernalda, the town of his origins, are also talented filmmakers. The director, Michele Russo Salfi is a seasoned filmmaker and his brother Gaetano Russo is a master artist and set designer. So it's apparent that creativity runs in this family. Read about the film's U.S. premiere at the 2016 Boston International Film Festival and Cannes 2016 screening.
In the category Best Short film..
Le ali velate (Veiled Wings) by actress/director Nadia Kibout focuses on issues of multiple culture and identity in the tumultuous times we live in today.
Ballata per un ergastolano by Basilicata-born director Cosimo Fusco.
Sincere congratulations go out to each and every talented person who worked on these films.. and best of luck on making the final cut!