UK cinemagoers get a chance to see the newest Italian productions when the 7th edition of Cinema Made in Italy returns to Ciné Lumière in South Kensington from 1–5 March with nine new films, all with Q&A sessions with the film makers, along with a 50th anniversary re-issue of the classic The Battle of Algiers. The five-day annual event is organised by Istituto Luce Cinecittà, in collaboration with Ciné Lumière and with the support of the Italian Cultural Institute in London.
Pick of the crop is The Confessions (Le confessioni), by Roberto Andò, starring the peerless Toni Servillo and Daniel Auteuil, boldly set at a G8 summit in a German hotel, where the presence of three observers, invited by the head of the IMF (Auteuil): a rock musician, a children’s author and enigmatic monk (Servillo), disturb the complacency of the participants, and a mysterious death brings a further whodunit aspect to what is at heart a philosophical questioning of the nature of power.
A personal must for me will be In Guerra per amore (At War for Love), directed by Pierfrancesco Diliberto, aka PIF, a satirical writer and film maker whose The Mafia Kills Only in Summer was a highlight here 2 years ago, and went on to an enthusiastic if limited distribution in the UK. Billed as a love story set in Sicily in the Second World War, with the Mafia as an ingredient and with such a director it cannot fail to have a degree of dark humour and ambiguity.
Opening the festival is 7 Minutes, directed by Michele Placido, an unusual take on female power, as we see into the lives of the 11 female members of a factory council as they make a vital decision about whether to sell out to a multinational. In Alessandro Aronadio’s Ears (Orecchie) a man wakes up one morning to find a ringing in his ears and a note on the fridge about the death of a ‘friend’ he has no recollection of. There follows a surreal day of half-comic half-disturbing activity across Rome, reflecting on the mad folly of life. Pericle il Nero is an American-noir style film where Pericles (Riccardo Scamarcio), an underworld enforcer, runs for his life when he finds himself the target of two powerful gangland bosses. Slam (Tutto per una ragazza) by Andrea Molaioli, is an adaptation of the Nick Hornby novel about a skateboarding teenager (Ludovico Tersigni) whose happy expectations of life do not go entirely to plan. Pawn Streets (Le ultime cose), by Irene Dionisio, hitherto a documentary filmmaker, looks at the stream of folk washed up by the harsh economic tide as they visit a pawn shop in Turin, as the stories of 3 individuals begin to intertwine.
The final day brings Vangelo, a documentary by theatre director Pippo Delbono made in a refugee centre, where slowly but surely, the refugees open up and tell their stories. In the relationship that emerges Pippo decides to create with them a Gospel stage production. And finally in I was a dreamer (Il più grande sogno) by Michele Vannucci, Mirko returns from prison hoping to make a fresh start with his family. A lively and sometimes hard-hitting story of the regaining of personal identity, the film was nominated for the Orizzonte Award in Venice last year.
And into the mix goes Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers,(La bataille d’Alger) a sensation when it arrived on screens in 1966 and a permanent presence on critics’ best film lists. An explosive, highly realistic, reconstruction of the fighting during the Algerian war in the late 50s, seen mainly from the point of view of the Algerian insurgents, while, as protested by the director, maintaining an unbiased approach, it sparked controversy and was the recipient of many awards. It’s a great opportunity to re-visit this film on its 50th anniversary.
For details see Cinema made in Italy