With a lineup of 17 sensational films, the Italian Film Festival promises to bring a delicious taste of Italy to the northern rivers. The festival is a cinematic celebration of Italian culture that will take audiences on a rollercoaster journey of love, laughter and drama, illuminating the many facets of the passionate Italian soul.
The Great Beauty, a critically lauded drama about love and regret that was an audience favourite at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, opens the festival on Friday October 11. With the grandeur of Rome’s most famous palaces, aqueducts and fountains, The Great Beauty, starring the incomparable Toni Servillo, is a carnival for the senses and a cinematic feast – delightful, nostalgic and inspiring. With drinks and appetisers on arrival, an after party complete with gift bags, cocktails, canapés and live music from Luke Vassella, opening night promises to be a very Italiano night of fun.
Closing the festival on Sunday October 20, with pre-film Limoncello cocktails to set the mood, is the cinema classic Fellini’s Roma – a grand homage from the late great director Federico Fellini to the spectacular city he adored. Made in 1972, the poetic comedy-drama begins with Fellini’s move from his native Rimini to 1931 Mussolini-era Rome. Shifting between past and contemporary times, chapters include Roman history and government in a wild amalgamation of eccentric characters and bizarre situations throughout the city. An outdoor restaurant, a movie theatre, a music hall, a brothel and a street parade all set the stage for this exploration of Italy’s magnificent capital city,
Other festival highlights include A Five Star Life starring Lesley Manville, Margherita Buy and Stefano Accorsi. Drama and comedy are effortlessly fused in this clever and stylish tour of hotels across Paris, Berlin, the Alps, and Marrakesh. Hotel critic Irene spends her glamorous days travelling to the world’s best establishments, methodically judging their standards in every fastidious respect. However, she remains supremely unaware of the glaring imperfections in her own life until events shatter her complacency, challenging her to find a balance between work and play.
Valerio Mastandrea won the Best Actor award at the Venice Film Festival for his outstanding performance in Balancing Act, playing husband and father of two Giulio, whose wife Elena cannot forgive him when he has an affair. He decides to move out but promises that he will continue to support the family financially despite his meagre monthly salary. But where can he go? His friends have their own problems, apartments are too expensive and he resists staying with his mistress. Finding a one-room, shared-bathroom pensione, Giulio plunges deeper into poverty as he struggles to pay for his separation, borrowing more and more money before hitting rock bottom. Told with ironic humour amid the tragedy, this movie poignantly examines the thin line between having it all and having nothing.
In the wry comedy A Perfect Family, Leone, a very wealthy and very lonely man, decides to create a family Christmas by writing a script and hiring professional actors to play different family members, but Leone’s constant mood swings cause havoc, forcing the actors to improvise until an unexpected arrival throws a spanner in the works that will either make or break this strange family unit.
Officially selected for Un Certain Regard at Cannes 2013, Honey (Miele) is the outstanding directorial debut of internationally famed actress Valeria Golino. Irene is an angel of mercy. Going by the pseudonym Honey, she works under the radar and outside the law to assist the terminally ill to pass on peacefully and with dignity. However the work is not without its costs and Irene lives a largely insulated life with personal liaisons kept at arm’s length. However, when retired architect Carlo enlists her services, a tense yet caring relationship results, causing her usually fierce code of ethics to be tested.
The legendary Domenico Modugno charmed the world with his melodic voice and songs, which came to symbolise Italian grandeur in the 60s. His career was launched with Volare, a huge hit which garnered two Grammy Awards, sold more than 22 million records, and represented Italy in the 1958 Eurovision Song Contest. He was also a successful actor with 44 films to his credit before entering politics in 1986. Mr Volare: The story of Domenico Modugno, follows his incredible journey as a boy from the south of Italy to a man who produced some of the world’s most famous songs.
And in Women Dive Me Crazy, an hilarious examination of family, love and relationships, Andrea is the sole male in a house of seven eccentric and overbearing women, whose antics ensure that his girlfriends don’t stay around for long. He loves his family even as they drive him crazy, but Andrea wonders whether he will be forced to choose between them and a girlfriend!
Screening at Palace Byron Bay Cinema October 11–20.
Tickets and programs are available at Palace Byron Bay Cinema or online at www.italianfilmfestival.com.au.