Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Viva il Cinema Italiano a New York City!

The first week of December is huge for Italian cinema in NYC! 

Here is the rundown with links to more information.

December 1- Director

Antonio Piazza to attend screenings of his film SICILIAN GHOST STORY at the Quad Cinema for Q&As.. Go to Strand Releasing and Cinema Made in Italy for details.

Click here to read my interview with one of the stars, Filippo Luna.

December 3 & 5- Maria Sole Tognazzi will talk about her documentary film Portrait of my Father at the Italian Cultural Institute on December 3 and present it at the Museum of Modern Art on December 5.
Click here to read my interview with Maria Sole Tognazzi.

December 4N.I.C.E. New Italian Cinema Events presents Francesco Falaschi's Quanto Basta.
Check out my interviews with the star of the film, Valeria Solaria, co-star Mirko Frezza and
Maya Breschi, one of the organizers of N.I.C.E.

December 5- The film retrospective 'Ugo Tognazzi-Tragedies of a Ridiculous Man' opens at MoMA The Museum of Modern ArtClick here for the full schedule.

Italy On Screen New York kicks off December 8. The following day, the New York premiere of Euforia directed by award-winning actress Valeria Golino will take place with the special participation of Academy Award-nominated director Julie Taymor and Novelist André Aciman.
Here is the full schedule of films..


Sunday, November 18, 2018

Meet Italy's Newest Stars- Elisa Del Genio & Ludovica Nasti

Directed by Saverio Costanzo and adapted from Elena Ferrante's novel My Brilliant Friend, HBO’s new television series is enchanting, mystical, suspenseful and full of drama.

A young veteran of contemporary Italian cinema, Costanzo brings to the table his modern style of filmmaking with nostalgic echoes of Italy's Golden Age of cinema. Set in 1950s working-class Naples, the films of Vittorio De Sica instantly come to mind.  Then add the subtle yet powerful performances by its two young stars, Elisa Del Genio and Ludovica Nasti, non-professional actresses, and Costanzo endearingly, perhaps even subconsciously, pays homage to the neorealist genre that De Sica was key in creating.

The development of a close friendship between Elena (Elisa Del Genio) and Lila (Ludovica Nasti) is the basis of the first episode, which introduces us to the harsh reality and flawed characters that surround them. The two girls are top in their class and while their teachers encourage their studies, the girls hesitate to embrace their intellectual gifts due to the society in which they live. 

Costanzo's sets are rich and sumptuous in their grey and earth tones yet ominous and creepy, giving the feeling that something bad is always waiting around the corner. He succeeded in creating an intriguing, fable-like world where fantasy and reality meet. 

My Brilliant Friend airs Sundays at 9pm on HBO. Click here to watch the trailer.

Sara Lo Russo's High-Tech Take on Basilicata

After honing her skills in Rome, she returned to her native region to conjure 3D worlds that bring history to life.

Sara Lo Russo was raised in Potenza, the capital of Basilicata, where she attended college and majored in journalism. Upon graduating, she moved to Rome where she held a position as a news coordinator. Living outside the region allowed her to grow personally and professionally, but she longed to return home and cast a contemporary light upon her region.

So she headed back to Potenza and partnered with engineer and 3D technician Michele Scioscia. With the help of the Lucana Film Commission, they founded Effenove, a film production and visual effects company.

“We specialize in 3D computer graphics,” says Lo Russo. “For us, technology is a tool, not the end, and 3D allows us to add a different language to the way we talk about Basilicata and its stories.”

Effenove literally means F9. As Lo Russo explains, “When Michele and I were trying to come up with a name for our production house, he suggested Effenove because the F9 key is what you press after a long processing of data entry before getting the final image.”

In pursuit of that final image, the artists of Effenove use drones with 4K resolution and SLR/digital cameras to shoot the real word (monuments, landscapes, people) and transform them into 3D models. Using highly sophisticated software, they create stunningly realistic virtual worlds that you enter via computer.

Lo Russo takes a documentary-style approach aimed at making Basilicata interesting and relevant to young audiences. The goal is to engage them and to teach them the history of the region. The most recent example is “Inventum,” an interactive game that is available through the Apple Store and Google Play. But there’s a catch. You can only play the game at the location in which it is set: the Archaeological Park of Venosa. 

Steeped in history, the park’s ancient ruins, which date back to 291 B.C., were once inhabited by wealthy Romans who relaxed in the thermal baths and watched shows in the amphitheater. Underneath the ruins are ancient Jewish catacombs. Now a museum, visitors learn about the Jewish population that occupied the area during the last centuries of the Roman Empire. The Effenove app brings this world to life through the magic of 3D animation.

“Basilicata is definitely a natural set. From the sea to the mountains to the wheat and the sky, the landscapes are extraordinary. However, the reason for staying here are the actual stories. A place can be as beautiful as you want, but if there are no strong stories to tell, the place is just a set,” Lo Russo explains.

Talking with Sara Lo Russo at the Giornate del Cinema Lucano in Maratea, Basilicata

Until recently, the region of Basilicata was most often described as poor, desolate and hard to reach. With the designation of Matera as the 2019 European Capital of Culture, the world seems to be catching on to the region’s modern side. And while younger residents appreciate and respect the writers and directors who once used the land as their muse and movie set, they feel the need to move on from the antiquated stereotypes they now perpetuate. “(Pier Paolo) Pasolini, (Francesco) Rosi and Carlo Levi gave a lot to Basilicata, but we run the risk of getting stuck in that kind of image,” Lo Russo says. “Basilicata today is much more. There is so much technology. There is so much future, and there is a great desire for the future. Just locate the right tools and start building that future.”

Watch a clip from our interview....

Clips from Effenove projects can be viewed online at www.effenove.it. Effenove is also on Vimeo and social media, in particular Instagram, where clips are posted regularly. Click here to watch Sara Lo Russo in my documentary Return to Lucania.

-Written by Jeannine Guilyard for the series "Basilicata: Land of Cinema." Published in the November 2018 edition of Fra Noi Magazine, Chicago.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Gigi Roccati's 'Lucania'

The trailer for Gigi Roccati's new film Lucania was recently released. Described as "An ancient land brought back to life by the primal force of a young mute girl," the film stars Joe Capalbo and Angela Fontana with Marco Leonardi and local actors Cosimo Fusco and Enzo Saponara. The film was shot on location in Basilicata.

Judging from the cinematography and performances, Lucania looks like an intense film. We'll keep you posted on its release. Click here to watch the trailer.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Ugo Tognazzi: Tragedies of a Ridiculous Man

Ugo Tognazzi: Tragedies of a Ridiculous Man
December 5–30, 2018
The Museum of Modern Art

The great Italian actor, director, and screenwriter Ugo Tognazzi (1922–1990) was among the inimitable quintet of actors from Italian cinema’s golden age—Tognazzi, Marcello Mastroianni, Vittorio Gassman, Alberto Sordi, and Nino Manfredi—who invented and popularized commedia dell’Italia, that tragicomic admixture of folly and melancholy, and commanded the lion’s share of Italy’s box-office receipts in the 1960s and ’70s. Tognazzi’s career began opposite Raimondo Vianello in satirical sketch comedies of fledgling 1950s Italian television—his gifts of impersonation and improvisation are hilariously on display in films like Dino Risi’s I mostri (1963) and Luigi Zampa’s A Question of Honor (1965)—and deepened as his roles in later years became more acidic and introspective. If a typical Tognazzi character was virile and dissolute, sweet-talking his way into beds, executive offices, and corridors of power, he was also confronted with the sinking awareness of his own mortality. One witnesses in this retrospective, then, a man’s seemingly inexorable passage from brash ambition to bitter regret, a man seeking to preserve his dignity in the face of diminishing prowess.

In collaboration with Luce Cinecittà, Rome, MoMA celebrates Tognazzi with a retrospective that spans his four-decade career. The series features 25 of his nearly 150 films, including his unforgettable, award-winning performances in Luciano Salce’s The Fascist (1961), Carlo Lizzani’s La Vita agra (1964), Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Porcile (1969), Marco Ferreri’s La Grande Bouffe (1973), Elio Petri’s Property Is No Longer a Theft (1973), Mario Monicelli’s Amici miei (1975), Édouard Molinaro’s La Cage aux folles (1978) and Bernardo Bertolucci’s Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man (1981).

Click here for more information.

The Mesmerizing Cinema of Ferzan Ozpetek

"Cinema is about the gaze, about where someone is looking. I love to make movies where a character is thinking the line but not spea...