Once again it’s time for a feast of Italian cinema to return to the Cine Lumière at the French Institute in London this March. The eighth edition of Cinema Made in Italy presents nine films over 5 days, with Q&As and introductions to each from film-makers themselves.
Pick of the new films looks to be RAINBOW (Una questione privata), the opening film, and a return to familiar territory from veteran director Paolo Taviani (his usual collaborator, brother Vittorio, working with him on the screenplay). They’re back in rural Italy with an atmospheric and affecting story of the partisans of World War II, centring on ‘Milton’, a young man torn between an obsessive love and the everyday horrors of fighting a guerrilla war.
Another must-see is HANNAH directed by Andrea Pallaoro, with Charlotte Rampling in the role which won her Best Actress Award in Venice last year. In an intense and immersive film of private anguish she plays a woman under tremendous pressure striving to cope after her husband has been imprisoned. It’s another brilliant, very different portrayal of marital isolation after her unforgettable performance in Andrew Haigh’s recent 45 Years.
It’s a year of strong performances. Un Certain Regard Best Actress winner at Cannes Jasmine Trinca appears in FORTUNATA, directed by Sergio Castellitto playing an on-her-uppers single mother struggling for custody of her child and a new more prosperous life.
This year, Naples features in three of the offerings. Also in competition in Venice we have the chirpy LOVE AND BULLETS (Amore e Malavita), by brothers Antonio and Marco Manetti, a musical set in Naples which mixes tongue-in-cheek James Bond-like shenanigans with comedy and romance. And that city features again in the animation CINDERELLA THE CAT (Gatta Cenerentola), by Alessandro Rak, a contender for the Orizzonti prize in Venice, a modern musical riff on the fairy story that also makes some satirically acerbic comments on the city. Variety has called it one of the best animated films from Italy on recent years. But in stark contrast it’s a dour and dangerous Naples in Leonardo di Costanza’s THE INTRUDER (L’Intrusa), a social realist portrait of the troubles at a community centre, a haven for children, when the Mafia make an appearance.
Relationships usually loom large at Cinema Made in Italy: in UNA FAMIGLIA, also a contender at Venice, we get a grim and disturbing tale of an abusive relationship, directed with style by Sebastiano Riso. While Francesca Comincini’s STORIES OF LOVE THAT CANNOT BELONG TO THIS WORLD (Amori che non sanno stare nel mondo) looks at the fallout of a once happy partnership that failed.
But the most fascinating relationship comes in the vintage screening of the 1977 A SPECIAL DAY (Una giornata particolare) by Ettore Scola, who died 2 years ago. His sharp wit and sense of absurd comedy, as seen a couple of years ago here in How Strange to be Named Federico, a light and loving portrayal of his great friend and colleague Fellini, combines here with a delicate humanism that still has a strong backbone of political purpose. Against the background of rising Fascism, and using real newsreel footage of contemporary events, this beautiful and sorrowful film details an odd and unexpected relationship between a Mussolini –adoring housewife and a radio announcer about to be deported because of the fascist anti-gay laws in 30s Rome. Two small figures in the big picture of a world bound for catastrophe. That they are played by Sophia Loren, acting against type as a downtrodden housewife, and Marcello Mastroianni, adds a delicious piquancy. This is a great opportunity to catch a little-seen masterpiece, don’t miss it!
Organised by Istituto Luce-Cinecittà in Rome, in conjunction with the Italian Institute in London, the films were selected by Adrian Wootton, CEO of Film London.
Details and screening times can be found on https://www.institut-francais.org.uk/italianfestival