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Sunday, July 28, 2019

Festivals that Feature Italian Films

There are countless festivals and series throughout the world that screen Italian films.
Here is a compilation of our favorites. While there are hundreds more, those listed below
have exceptional lineups. Click on the name to visit the corresponding site.

Cinema Italia San Francisco
Hot Docs - Canada
8 1/2 Festa do Cinema Italiano
Tribeca Film Festival
Italian Film Festival USA
NYC Independent Film Festival
Cannes Film Festival
Tokyo Italian Film Festival
Open Roads: New Italian Cinema
Italian Contemporary Film Festival 
Giffoni Experience
Salina DocFest
Ventotene Film Festival
Giornate del Cinema Lucano
Lucania Film Festival
Ischia Film Festival
Locarno Festival
Venice Film Festival
Isola del Cinema Rome
Toronto International Film Festival
Annecy Cinema Italien
Lavazza Italian Film Festival
Festa del Cinema di Roma
Italy On Screen Today - New York
San Diego Italian Film Festival
Pordenone Silent Film Festival
Chicago International Film Festival
Cinema Italy - Miami/Atlanta/San Juan
Villerupt Italian Film Festival
Cinema Italian Style
Festival do Cinema Italiano no Brasil
Italian Film Festival Cardiff
NICE New italian Cinema Events Festival 
Madrid Italian Film Festival
RIFF - Roma Independent Film Festival
Palm Springs International Film Festival
Sundance Film Festival
Berlin International Film Festival
Los Angeles - Italia

The following venues offer ongoing film series throughout the year. Check websites for listings.

MAXXI Museo 
Casa del Cinema
Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)
Cinema Italia San Francisco
Museum of the Moving Image
George Eastman Museum 

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Claudio Giovannesi's 'Piranhas' Opens in the U.S.

Based the novel by Roberto Saviano, Piranhas follows 15 year old Nicola, who lives in the Sanita neighborhood of Naples, a place controlled by the Camorra mafia for centuries. Nicola and his group of friends enter the violent, power-hungry world of crime that threatens their innocence and safety of their families.

The film premiered at the 2019 Berlin International Film Festival where it won the Silver Bear for Best Screenplay. Check out the trailer...

U.S. cities and dates are below...

Friday, August 2       NYC, at Film Society of Lincoln Center

Friday, August 8       Los Angeles, Nuart Theater
                                 Washington DC, Landmark E Street Theater
                                 Boston, Landmark Kendall Square
                                 Philadelphia, Landmark Ritz at Bourse
                                 Atlanta, Landmark Midtown Arts
                                 Denver, Landmark Chez Artiste
                                 San Diego, Landmark Ken
                                 Seattle, Grand Illusion Theater

Friday, August 16    Pasadena, Laemmle Playhouse
                                 Coral Gables, Bill Cosford Cinema

Friday, August 23   San Francisco, Landmark Opera Plaza
                                Berkeley, Landmark Shattuck
                                Portland OR, Living Room Theaters

Friday, August 30   Columbus OH, Gateway Film Center
                                Scottsdale, Harkins Shea 14

Friday, Sept. 6        Buffalo, North Park

Friday, Sept. 15.     Winchester VA, Alamo Drafthouse Winchester

Contemporary Italian Filmmakers Team Up with Campari

We all know Campari for its iconic Italian apéritifs. Over the last few years, the brand has teamed up with Rome’s Cinecittà Studios to create enchanting short films to promote its cocktails. 

The series, Red Diaries, consists of short films by contemporary Italian directors Matteo Garrone ("Gomorrah”), Stefano Sollima (“Suburra”) and Academy Award winner Paolo Sorrentino (“The Great Beauty”). Each inspired by a specific Campari cocktail, the films are psychological thrillers that contain a strong element of mystery. 

Clive Owen in Killer in Red
Click on the links below to watch the films..

Campari's website also features recipes for its cocktails, including the infamous Negroni and Americana as well as the Campari story with past art and film campaigns. So make yourself a cocktail and check out these intriguing works by some of the most innovative directors working in Italian cinema today.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Rochester, New York Says Goodbye to a Beloved Musician

"There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the infinite passion of life.”
- Federico Fellini

In the June 2006 issue of Rochester, New York's Italian American Community Newspaper, we published an article about the homegrown Italian-American musician, Joe Lana. It is with profound sadness that 13 years later, we are publishing his obituary. Joe Lana suffered a massive heart attack on February 7, 2019. He was 56-years-old.

Joe was a musician and music instructor in Rochester for four decades, performing with his bands Iron Cross, Highwire, East Coast Connection, Uncle Plum, Heaviest Thing and Significant Other. He collaborated in the studio and on stage with fellow Italian-American musicians Don Mancuso, Phil Naro, Lou Gramm and many others. He was a mentor to young musicians including his son who is also a drummer. In 2009, he wrote a book titled “Organized Time,” which consists of graphs illustrating a method that he came up with to keep time. He used this method as a guide when teaching his students. 

A proud Italian-American, family was very important to Joe. He adored his children, Jenny and Joe Jr. and remained close to his siblings and parents. One of nine children, Joe and his siblings often met on the weekends for golf and Sunday sauce. His siblings were enthusiastic and supportive of his music. He often collaborated with his twin brother, Lucien.

Joe was doing what he loved right up until the end. He played two local shows during the week of his death and was practicing with one of his first bands, Highwire, for a reunion show. Although he had a demanding day job, he never faltered in his dedication to playing music in his hometown. 

Beyond Joe’s music legacy, he left an everlasting love, which was celebrated in a tribute show at the Rochester Dome Arena. Uncle Plum headlined the event with Joe’s son filling in on the drums. The event brought together family, friends and fans for one last farewell to a larger than life person who will never be forgotten.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Ginevra Elkann's 'Magari' to Open the 2019 Locarno Film Festival


Nine Italian films are in the lineup of this year's Locarno Film Festival. Among them is the festival opener- Ginevra Elkann's Magari (What If), which will be shown in the famous Piazza Grande.

Starring Riccardo Scamarcio and Alba Rohrwacher, the film has been called an emotional comedy telling the story of three very close siblings – Alma, Jean and Sebastian. As children, they live in Paris with their Russian-orthodox catholic mother in a bizarre yet secure upper-class environment. However, they will soon embark on a journey to join Carlo, their absent Italian father.

The complete Italian selection is as follows:

L'APPRENDISTATO di Davide Maldi: Concorso Cineasti del presente

THE COLD RAISING THE COLD di RONG Guang Rong: Concorso Cineasti del presente

LA FAMOSA INVASIONE DEGLI ORSI IN SICILIA di Lorenzo Mattotti: Piazza Grande - Special Family Evening

HOGAR di Maura Delpero: Concorso internazionale

INCOMPIUTA di Samira Guadagnuolo, Tiziano Doria: Pardi di domani Concorso internazionale

MAGARI di Ginevra Elkann: Piazza Grande - Film di Apertura

THE NEST - IL NIDO di Roberto de Feo: Piazza Grande - Crazy Midnight

NON È SOGNO di Giovanni Cioni: Fuori concorso

SAN VITTORE di Yuri Ancarani: Fuori concorso: Shorts

The Locarno Film Festival runs August 7th - 17th. Click here for more information.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Rome's Casa del Cinema Honors Neorealism Screenwriter

A brand new exhibit at the Casa del Cinema in Rome tells the story of screenwriter Cesare Zavattini, a boundless creative force behind the rise of the neorealism movement.

Zavattini was born in the region of Emilia-Romagna in 1902. He earned a degree in Law but instead devoted his time to writing. In 1930, he moved to Milan to work at the Rizzoli publishing company. Five years later, he met Vittorio De Sica. They would go on to make 20 films together, including the iconic neorealist films "Shoeshine" (1946), "The Bicycle Thief" (1948), "Miracle in Milan" (1951) and "Umberto D." (1952).

During his career, Zavattini made around 80 films and worked with many of the great directors of Italian cinema, including Michelangelo Antonioni, Federico Fellini, Pietro Germi, Alberto Lattuada,
Mario Monicelli, Dino Risi, Roberto Rossellini, the Taviani brothers and Luchino Visconti.

The exhibit features excerpts from his writings, a documentary and images from his life and films. It runs through September 10, 2019. Click here for details.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

RIP Actress Valentina Cortese

Actress Valentina Cortese has died at the age of 96.

She’s appeared in films with the likes of Humphrey Bogart, Ava Gardner and Audrey Hepburn, and starred in films by such masters as Michelangelo Antonioni, Federico Fellini, and François Truffaut. Last year, she was the subject of Francesco Patierno’s documentary, Diva!.

Born in Milan on New Year’s Day in 1923,  Valentina Cortese’s mother, an up and coming musician who had just earned her degree and did not want the birth revealed, placed her in the care of another family. Patierno’s  documentary, which made its North American premiere at Lincoln Center’s Open Roads: New Italian Cinema, explains Cortese’s childhood growing up among the “marvelous, strong people” of farming communities in the Lombardia region of northern Italy. Those early years of her life shaped the independent, honest woman she became. Cortese describes her childhood as “poor but warm.” Although she seldomly saw her real mother, she says that she understands why she couldn’t raise her.

Patierno’s documentary film is based on Cortese’s autobiographical book, Quanti Sono I Domani Passati(How Many Yesterdays Passed). The film is a marriage of the old and new with a treasure trove of old film clips and archival footage while contemporary Italian actresses and one actor read excerpts from Cortese’s book. On choosing the actresses for the readings, Patierno told me, “I did not want the actresses to imitate Cortese, so I chose eight women especially based on their diversity, to make sure that diversity formed the complex portrait that this great actress deserved.”

Among the testimony read is the story of her Oscar-nominated role in François Truffaut’s 1974 Day for Night. The film won an Oscar for Best Foreign Film and it's revealed why she found the director’s acceptance speech so heartbreaking. Actress Barbora Bobulova reveals Cortese’s true motivation behind signing a 7-year contract with 20thCentury Fox. She talks about her arrival in Hollywood and how she assimilated into the new and different way of life. She tells the story of how she came to work in Jules Dassin’s 1949 film Thieves’ Highwayand a chilling account of visiting him at home.

Patierno touches on Cortese’s 9-year marriage to American actor Richard Basehart and her influence on the early days of Audrey Hepburn’s career. The Neapolitan-born director says his biggest discovery in the making of this film was an actress who he had thought belonged to an old way of doing cinema, but instead found that her way was in fact very modern. He discovered “an actress who could bring her tormented life to the big screen and always turn it into a great emotion. (Valentina Cortese) is a courageous actress with a great personality.”

In every role she took on, she lent her character the air of intelligence and elegance that she naturally carries with her.Dassin’s Thieves’ Highway is a beautiful, nostalgic step back in time. Shot in the late 1940s, the film shows the typical American neighborhood of that era. What first appears as an immigrant family living the American dream soon reveals a tragedy caused by a business deal gone terribly wrong. When a determined son, Nick Garcos, sets out to get revenge for his father’s suspicious accident, he nearly gets taken by the same conman. Cortese plays Rica, a tough but good woman who falls in love with Nick, played brilliantly by Richard Conte. The two had strong chemistry and their scenes together are intense. The film shows the hard lives of the period’s so-called long-haul boys, workers who drove through the night to deliver shipments to markets in American cities.

In Luis García Berlanga’s 1956 Spanish comedy, The Rocket from Calabuch, Cortese plays the role of Eloisa, a kind-hearted school teacher. Eloisa is simply dressed and modest but Cortese’s natural elegance shines through. Scenes shot along the sea bring out her natural Mediterranean beauty. Eloisa falls in love with the mischievous Langosta, a trumpet-playing prisoner cleverly played by the beloved Italian character actor Franco Fabrizi. The Rocket from Calabash is a hilarious, feel-good story of friendship, simplicity and bonds that could never be broken. The film was available for a while on the new defunct Filmstruck. We'll keep you posted if it becomes available again.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Silvio Soldini Presents 'Treno di Parole' at MAXXI - Museo in Rome

Director Silvio Soldini’s documentary “Treno di Parole” will be shown on July 6  in Rome at the MAXXI - Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo​ as part of the museum’s 3-day Extra Doc Festival in partnership with Rome’s #cityfest .. .

The film is dedicated to Raffaello Baldini whose poems in dialect are recited in the film by actors like Ivano Marescotti and Gigio Alberti. Silvio Soldini​ tells the story of the poet who has been described as “a shy and amazing intellectual” who spent years as the editor of Italy’s weekly Panorama magazine cultivating his private verses of contemptuous intelligence and precise inflection.

The event will be hosted by Mario Sesti, Extra Doc Festival curator. The film begins at 9 pm. Admission is free of charge. Click here for details.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

A Conversation with Taylor Taglianetti, Founder of NOIAFT

A new platform has recently been launched that promotes the work of Italian Americans in film and television. The brains behind the initiative is a young, passionate woman who is taking the support that she received early on in her journey and paying it forward.

With origins in Basilicata and Campania, Taylor Taglianetti is a proud Italian American from Brooklyn, New York. She is currently a senior at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, graduating in January 2020. She is majoring in Film and Television and minoring in the Business of Entertainment, Media and Technology. Taglianetti aspires to be a feature film producer and bring great stories to the big screen. In addition to running NOIAFT, she is currently a Development Intern with Silver Pictures, the production company that produced the Lethal Weapon and The Matrix series. Last summer, she was a development intern with Maven Pictures, the Academy-Award winning production company behind Still Alice and The Kids Are All RightTaglianetti also has experience producing and directing short films. Her debut short film, Generation Hollow, was produced by the leading non-profit, Reel Works, and was an Official Selection at the 2014 Girls Film Festival and the Juror’s Choice for Outstanding Filmmaking at the 2014 Women of African Descent Film Festival. Additionally, she has received scholarships from the Columbus Citizens Foundation, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and The Charles & Lucille King Foundation. In 2018, she was one of twenty students selected from thousands nationwide by the National Italian American Foundation to travel to Italy. 

I asked Taglianetti about the mission and future of NOIAFT. She was so articulate and generous with her answers to my questions, it is clear that her organization is about to become a powerhouse of promotion for Italians and Italian-Americans across the globe. 

What inspired you to start this organization?
I recently launched The National Organization of Italian Americans in Film & TV (NOIAFT) with the goal of helping Italian Americans break into the entertainment industry and promoting stories about the Italian American experience. In the entertainment business, there has been no organization for Italian Americans to network and share these sorts of creative opportunities, and I hope to fill this need.
My dad always wanted to be a screenwriter but never had a formal film education or opportunities to present his material. I think he’s a really good writer and I’m confident if his material was represented, it would be picked up in a second. There are a lot of stories like that and I think having a network like this where my platform can be used for people to showcase their work and meet and work together with others of the same heritage and background, it can really help create more opportunities for all.
Furthermore, as an aspiring feature film producer, I wanted to use my unique skillset and background to pay it forward to my community. I have been overwhelmed by the support of the Columbus Citizens Foundation who not only gave me a scholarship to go to a private Catholic high school, but made my dream of going to NYU’s prestigious film school possible with their generous scholarship.
I also had the honor and opportunity to be selected to participate in the National Italian American Foundation’s Voyage of Discovery Program last summer to travel to Italy for the first time. My experiences in Puglia allowed me to learn about amazing aspects of my heritage that I may not have otherwise encountered. Knowing that there was so much I didn’t know about my roots signaled to me how important it is to share this knowledge with others. In the entertainment industry, Italian Americans are often pigeonholed to working in the mob genre. While some of those projects are very good, I thought it would be great to also show that Italian Americans are working on other interesting projects beyond that genre, too.

What is the organization's mission?
Although we are in our infancy, NOIAFT aims to provide our members with networking opportunities, a go-to community when looking to assemble teams for projects and, as we grow, internship, job, mentoring, workshops, grants for creative works, and scholarships. In short, NOIAFT is a network dedicated to helping talented Italian Americans gain entry into the entertainment business by working together.
Membership with NOIAFT is free as long as you pledge to help another Italian American in the group. It can be as simple as giving another person advice if the opportunity presents itself. As membership grows, I will be reaching out to established industry entities, and urge them to consider our members when doing business.
Additionally, on various social media platforms, I spotlight work created by, and for, Italian Americans and those of Italian descent. Most recently, we completed press coverage and conducted red carpet interviews at the Tribeca Film Festival, BAMcinemaFest, the IFC Center’s Split Screens TV Festival and Lincoln Center’s Open Roads Film Festival. 

Taylor Taglianetti interviewing Italian producer Domenico Procacci at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival

I've seen on your social media pages that you cover a lot of Red Carpet premieres in New York. That is pretty impressive since your organization is so new! You have really hit the ground running. What are your short-term and long-term goals for the project?
Going to festivals and premieres was never a thought in my mind when I started NOIAFT. Now, it’s become one of my most important assets in building up the organization. A friend of mine, Adam Yuster, suggested I attend the Tribeca Film Festival and was able to help me get press credentials a month after the deadline. I was surprised by how much access I got as an organization that just started. I spent hours going through the hundreds of films playing and basically made a list of anyone involved in the productions of Italian descent and contacted their publicists for interviews. Of course, I had to also grab some interviews with celebrities like Alexander Skarsgård and Christoph Waltz. One of my goals that I’m considering is creating a subsidiary to the organization that is just for entertainment interviews/press-related content.

I have some really exciting interviews booked for July. I can’t say what they are now, but they are going to be with very high-profile talent. Also, this week, one of my members, Christie Peruso, is actually headed to Sicily to cover the Radio Italia Live Concert in Palermo. She’s a seasoned actress, model and correspondent based in Milan and from the East Coast.  We connected on Instagram and will be working together on other projects. It’s so exciting to see that after just a couple of months since starting that NOIAFT is going international. One of my other goals would be to get more members out there interviewing. Not only is a lot of fun, but it’s also a tremendous networking opportunity. I recently started working with member Giò Crisafulli who is a writer, director, producer, editor and actor. Again, another fortuitous Instagram encounter. I asked him to conduct all the NOIAFT interviews at Open Roads. I was so impressed with his depth of knowledge of cinema and Italian culture. Overall, it’s great getting this fantastic content, but I need to figure out the best ways to disseminate these interviews, reach a wider audience, and in turn, recruit more members. So, thank you very much for giving me a platform to talk about NOIAFT!

Check out Giò Crisafulli's interview with filmmaker Laura Luchetti at Open Roads: New Italian Cinema...

I saw that you invite people to become members. What are the benefits to being a member?
Whenever someone becomes a member, I put them on a mailing list to let them know about screenings, press events, casting calls, etc. I had a couple of members come to Tribeca Film Festival and work as press. Two of my other members conducted interviews at festivals. These are great opportunities to network. Also, becoming a member is free so there’s nothing to lose!

By becoming a member, you also get access to our members’ directory. NOIAFT is a community that, I believe, works best when people work together. Sometimes, it’s just having that simple resource to say, hey, I need a couple of actors for my short film and using the directory as an easy way to find talent. I also promote member projects and spotlight members on our website and social media, including conducting on-camera interviews with them.

Right now, in NOIAFT’s infancy, these are the main benefits. However, the goal for the future is to provide internship/job opportunities, workshops, mentoring, fundraising initiatives for creative works and scholarships for members.

Tell me about your Italian-American origins and culture. You obviously have great pride. 
I’m a proud Italian American from Brooklyn, New York. My roots trace back to Potenza in Basilicata and Salerno in Campania. I would say the cornerstones of my Italian upbringing are food, family and faith. I don’t think my Italian American upbringing is too different from others, except that I didn’t grow up in an Italian neighborhood and not until the last couple of months did I get into eating sauce…yup, can you believe it?

I’m actually only half-Italian; my mom is Irish. We really don’t have any Irish traditions so I’d say she’s more Italian than Irish, haha. My great-grandfather, Gelsomino Taglianetti, was born in Potenza in 1892 and at the age of 19, hopped aboard the S.S Romanic in search of his sweetheart, Maria Cavallo, my great-grandmother, who early on had emigrated to the United States. My great-grandparents owned a tailor shop near my house. My grandmother, Carol, was a seamstress and grandfather, Rocco, was a plumber and steamfitter, but also a medic’s assistant during World War II.

My Grandma Carol’s brothers, Jimmy and Johnny, both served their country during the war, too. My father’s paternal uncle, Alfred, had lied about his age, joined the Coast Guard at seventeen, and participated in the Invasion of Normandy.

My grandfather’s other brother, Phil, was in the Navy and went on to make a career of it, retiring as a Chief Petty Officer. In fact, he once avoided an international incident by locating important documents that were thought to be stolen. My father dug up an old magazine that featured a story about him. I read that my great-uncle had participated in the invasions of Kwajalein and Saipan and helped liberate the Philippines. In 1948, he was used as the model for a “Join the Navy Poster” that was distributed all over the United States in a highly successful recruitment drive. He said his tour of duty with Uncle Sam took him all over the world, but the biggest thrill he got was meeting Pope Pius XII in a private audience.  My dad’s brother, my Uncle Philip, served in Vietnam and was awarded a Purple Heart. Last year, I made a documentary about my family’s involvement in the military.

I’m so proud of my family and their sacrifices motivate me to work hard every day. I recently connected with a distant cousin through Ancestry DNA and he informed me that I have an ancestor, Captain Zaccaria Taglianetti (1815-1874), who was a hero for his participation in the Lucanian Risorgimento of 1860. He was captain of the squad from Salvia. Cap. Zaccaria Taglianetti persists in local memory, having had a pizza named in his honor at Savoia di Lucania's 2013 Pizza & Beer Fest (Il Capitano: tomato, mozzarella, and basil!). Zaccaria's son, Vincenzo Taglianetti (1838 - 1893), saved the life of the King of Italy and was later given the title of Duke.

Taglianetti told me that her favorite Italian movies are Bicycle Thieves and Cinema Paradiso. She is grateful to the support that she has received from family and friends. When I asked her if there was anything she wanted to add to our interview, she sweetly replied, "I want to thank my parents, Alan and Shirley Taglianetti, my brother and sister-in-law, Alan and Dominique Taglianetti, and my friend, Austin Tucker, for without their support, NOIAFT would not be possible!"

Visit NOIAFT online at There, you will find links to the organization's social media platforms and information on how to become a member.

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...