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Monday, May 7, 2018

Open Roads: New Italian Cinema 2018 Edition

Boys Cry
Since the early 2000's, I've always looked forward to the month of June because of the remarkable selection of contemporary Italian films shown in New York at Lincoln Center's annual series, Open Roads: New Italian Cinema

This year's diverse lineup, presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Istituto Luce Cinecittà, includes the Berlin Film Festival sleeper hit by the D’Innocenzo brothers, Boys Cry, the story of two best friends who get in over their heads with organized crime;  Innovative director Fulvio Risuleo's Look Up; Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza’s second feature, Sicilian Ghost Story; Sergio Castellitto’s emotionally-driven Fortunata, with Jasmine Trinca, who won the Un Certain Regard Best Actress prize at last year’s Cannes Film Festival; and three works by returning Open Roads filmmakers: Marco Tullio Giordana’s Name of a Woman, Ferzan Ozpetek’s Naples in Veils, starring the talented Giovanna Mezzogiorno and Alessandro Borghi, Francesca Comencini's Locarno hit Stories of Love That Cannot Belong to This World and Paolo Genovese's star-studded The Place.

Naples in Veils
The Taviani Brothers' new film Rainbow: A Private Affair, which is also their last together as Vittorio passed away in April, will be paired with a special screening of their 1983 classic, The Night of the Shooting Stars.

Rainbow: A Private Affair
Since its first edition back in 2000, Open Roads has been known for its compelling Q&A's with directors and actors behind the contemporary masterpieces, and the 2018 edition is no different with an impressive list of filmmakers slated to be in attendance:

Fabio Grassadonia & Antonio Piazza to present Sicilian Ghost Story on Opening Night
Giorgio Ferrero to present the documentary Beautiful Things
Damiano & Fabio D’Innocenzo to present Boy's Cry
Silvia Luzi & Luca Bellino to present Crater
Francesco Patierno to present Diva!
Vincenzo Marra to present Equilibrium
Marco Tullio Giordana to present Nome di donna
Ferzan Ozpetek to present Naples in Veils
Paolo Genovese to present The Place
Roberto De Paolis to present Pure Hearts
Lucia Mancino to present Stories of Love That Cannot Belong to This World 

The Place
The 18th edition of Open Roads: New Italian Cinema will be held at Lincoln Center in New York May 31 - June 6 and will be followed by Visconti,a special retrospective dedicated to a great maestro of Italian cinema, Luchino Visconti.

Stories of Love That Cannot Belong to This World

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Asia Argento's 2000 Film 'Scarlet Diva' Gets American Distribution

It's just been announced that Asia Argento's 2000 film Scarlet Diva was acquired by the American distribution company, Film Movement.

According to Luce Cinecitta's website, FilmItalia, the story of Scarlet Diva centers on Anna Battista, a young film star with a difficult past. Her mother and brother died from drug and alcohol abuse. Anna lives a nomadic life travelling between Rome, Paris, London, Amsterdam and Los Angeles in a continuous whirl of auditions, appearances and awards ceremonies. The truth of the matter is that Anna is lonely and on the edge of oblivion. Love is always only sex for her and all her relationships are drug-driven and very degrading. During a stopover in Paris, she meets Kirk (Shepherd) a young Australian musician and she falls in true love.

Kirk goes on a long tour and Anna discovers that she is pregnant. She decides to keep the baby but cannot break with her world and all its vices. During a continuous flashback, Anna relives the death of her brother, her childhood fears and the discovery of her body and sex.

Anna does not want to act anymore - she writes a screenplay for a film. An important American producer fools her into believing that he will put up the money. He lures her to an appointment and tries to rape her - yet another traumatic experience. Anna slips further down the slippery path trying out the newest drugs in a self-destructive "trip". At the end of the film, seven months have gone by and she is visibly pregnant. Kirk returns to Paris for a concert and Anna wants to see him again. But more problems and shocking revelations await her and the end is an open conclusion.

Argento has said that one scene in particular was inspired by an encounter with Harvey Weinstein, who invited her to his hotel room when she was 21-years-old. He allegedly forced her onto the bed, begging for a massage. He then performed oral sex on her as she told him to stop.

During the last year, Argento has been a leading voice in the #MeToo movement despite vicious attacks by the Italian media. The story of Scarlet Diva is more relevant than ever, so we'll keep you posted on when and where it will be shown.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

A Conversation with Neapolitan Actress Franca Abategiovanni

Franca Abategiovanni 
"Naples, more than inspires me, is a part of me."

Passionate words from a Neapolitan actress whose origins are at the very foundation of her work.

Born in Ercolano, a comune located in Naples, Franca Abategiovanni began acting in theater when she was a young girl. Those beginnings led her to a successful career in film, and the freedom to return every so often to her first love-theater.

She charmed and humored American audiences earlier this year as a strong-willed mother in Rupert Evertt's "The Happy Prince." A British biographical story of the tragic last days of Oscar Wilde, the film premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival and is currently in Italian theaters.

I recently spoke with Franca Abategiovanni about her diverse roles and her love of her hometown of Naples. Our interview was done in Italian, so both versions are included.

When did your discover this desire to be an actress?
Theater has always been in my life. As a child I was fascinated by the shows in which my sister performed with an amateur company, and I too tried my hand with other children to write texts. Then I made the decision to act, with great effort and no regrets ever. I am still choosing it every day.

Quando era nata questo desidero di recitare?
Il teatro c'è sempre stato nella mia vita. Da piccola ero affascinata dagli spettacoli in cui mia sorella recitava con una compagnia amatoriale, e  anch'io mi cimentavo con gli altri bambini a mettere in scena testi scritti da noi, poi da grande l'ho scelto, con grandi sforzi senza mai nessun rimpianto scegliendolo tutti i giorni.

Do your Neapolitan origins and your great city of Napoli inspire you as an artist?
Naples, more than inspires me, is a part of me. It is the language of my soul, and my every thought. I am that essence. Naples is in my DNA.

Le tue origini napoletane e la tua grande città del Napoli ti ispirano come artista?
Napoli, più che ispirarmi, fa parte di me   è la mia anima la mia lingua, il mio pensiero. Io sono quell'essenza, Napoli  è nel  il mio DNA.

As you’ve worked in theater, television and cinema. Do you have a preference?
Cinema has always fascinated me. It's like a container of emotions where I can mirror myself. So I admit that in this period of my life, I am more attracted to the cinema.

Come hai lavorato in teatro, televisione e cinema. Hai un preferito?
Il cinema mi ha sempre affascinato un contenitore di emozioni dove potersi specchiare… ammetto  che in questo periodo della mia vita sono attratta maggiormente dal cinema.

I loved "Un paese quasi perfetto" and I interviewed Massimo Gaudioso about his experience there. Tell me about your role..
In Massimo Gaudioso's film Un paese quasi perfetto, I played the role of the mayor's wife. I have to say that it was so much fun shooting in that town in Basilicata, such a beautiful and cozy place. Working with Massimo and the actors was really a pleasure.

Ho amato "Un paese quasi perfetto" e ho intervistato Massimo Gaudioso sulla sua esperienza lì. Parlami del tuo ruolo e la tua esperienza sul set..
Nel film "Un paese quasi perfetto" di Massimo Gaudioso, il mio ruolo era la moglie del sindaco del paese, devo dire che mi sono molto divertita a girare in quei posti la Basilicata è bellissima ed accogliente, lavorare con Massimo e gli altri attori è stato veramente un piacere.

Tell me about your role in "The Happy Prince."
Working with Rupert Everett was a great honor and a great joy for me. He is an extraordinary actor, director and a man of great sensitivity. We shot in towns near Munich and Naples. I play the role of a mother with a very strong temperament, a straightforward populace who does not stop at nothing and nobody, who breaks into a fury in Oscar Wilde's house in search of my son during a licentious party. The scene has a very comical epilogue: only men participate in the party. So his daughter-in-law's honor is safe. His son, Felice, has not betrayed his wife with another woman.

Parlami del tuo ruolo in "The Happy Prince."
Lavorare con Rupert Everett è stato per me un grande onore e una grande  gioia Lui è un attore straordinario un regista e un uomo di grande sensibilità. Abbiamo girato in un paese vicino Monaco di Baviera e a Napoli. Io interpreto il ruolo di una  madre dal temperamento molto forte, una popolana schietta che non si ferma davanti a niente e a nessuno, che irrompe come una furia in casa di Oscar Wilde alla ricerca del figlio durante un festino licenzioso. La scena ha un epilogo molto comico: al festino partecipano solo uomini…dunque l' onore di sua nuora è salvo. Suo figlio Felice, non ha tradito la moglie con un 'altra donna.

Abategiovanni recently finished filming a TV drama called "La vita promessa" (The Promised Life) written by Simona Izzo and directed by Ricky Tognazzi. Slated to air later this year, the film tells the story of a Sicilian family forced to relocate to New York during the mass immigration of the early 20th century.

She is currently on tour in Italy with a show written by her dear friend Cesare Belito. The show, Teresa ZUM ZUM, is directed by her longtime collaborator Nadia Baldi.

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...