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June 24, 2024

Italian Film Festival: che bellezza

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The annual Lavazza Italian Film Festival, screening at Palace Byron Bay Cinema, is now firmly in the calendar as one of the year’s must-see cinema events.

Screening from October 9 to 15, this year’s promises to be a wildly exuberant celebration of Italian culture, with a program of 20 films that run the gamut from drama to comedy, romance to adventure.

On top of the already exciting schedule, four additional movies have been added – some of the most popular films to screen at the recent Sydney and Melbourne festivals.

This year’s opening night film Marina, is a delightful biopic that tells the true story of Rocco Granata, the much loved singer, songwriter and accordionist, from his early life as a child whose father left the poverty of southern Italy to work as a miner in Belgium, to Rocco’s emergence as a worldwide musical phenomenon with his 1959 song Marina, one of the biggest international hits of that era.

The cinema will be serving drinks and appetizers prior to and after the film, while patrons at the after party will also be entertained by local musician Luke Vassella.


Palace film festivals’ closing night films are often cinema classics and this year that slot will be amply filled by Marriage Italian Style, the multi-award winning film directed by Vittorio De Sica and starring the stunning Sophia Loren as Filumena, the long-time mistress of a successful businessman who decides to do whatever it takes to secure a future for her and her three illegitimate children.  The newly digitally restored release highlights the exceptional quality of this piece of cinema history.

Other festival highlights include Out of the Blue, a romantic comedy that was a huge success at the Italian box office, starring one of Italy’s sexiest male stars Raoul Bova as a ladies man leading an indulgent lifestyle with few concerns, until a 17 year old daughter he never knew comes into his life.  This unapologetic playboy finds he has to learn some new lessons in the art of love.

Darker than Midnight
Darker than Midnight

Darker Than Midnight is a dramatic coming of age story inspired by the work of indie US filmmaker Gus Van Sant, and based on the youth of Davide Cordova who, after a rough adolescence in Sicily, achieved fame on the Roman stage as the drag queen Fuxia. An embarrassment to his father who torments him for not being manly, family tensions force Davide to leave home, where  he is befriended by effeminate hustler La Rettore and his band of gay and transgender friends. But one day the past encroaches on the present and Davide has to face the most difficult choice of his tender years.

Charlotte Gainsbourg and Italian TV idol Gabriel Garko star in Incompresa, a not to be missed  charmer about childhood and growing up featuring a wide-ranging soundtrack of rock, punk and Mozart, a film that Indiewire described as “fresh, fond and blackly funny”.


Quiet Bliss
Quiet Bliss

In Quiet Bliss, a small textile factory in southern Italy is forced to close, leaving three generations of women struggling to make ends meet. Taking refuge at the family’s olive grove overlooking the sea, the pressure of mounting debts brings them close to breaking point but against all expectations, they discover that cultivating the soil and selling or bartering their produce provides the chance for a new beginning. Set in the isolated beauty of the Puglia region of southern Italy, this warm and vibrant drama boasts powerful performances by its four female leads.

Bonus films

The four bonus films are: A Boss in the Kitchen, Sacro Gra, Blame it on Freud and I Can Quit Whenever I Want. And it’s not hard to see why they have been selected.

A Boss in the Kitchen
A Boss in the Kitchen

From the comic mind of director Luca Miniero, A Boss in the Kitchen is a riotous offering telling the story of the family Coso, an almost perfect family leading a quiet life in Tyrol, Northern Italy. That is, until no-good uncle Cyrus ‘Ciro’ played by Rocco Papaleo arrives from Naples.

A humanistic approach enlivens the inventive documentary Sacro Gra, about people living around Rome’s ring road, the Grande Raccordo Anulare, or GRA as it is colloquially known, which divides the city from the suburbs. Punning on the ‘Sacro Graal,’ or Holy Grail, this intriguing documentary was singled out by Venice’s jury president Bernardo Bertolucci for its ‘poetic force,’ and ‘Franciscan’ regard for individuals and spaces. Not only this, it also holds the prestigious mantle of being the first documentary to win the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.

A huge box-office hit in Italy last year, Paolo Genovese returns with the light-hearted, humorous and touching offering Blame it on Freud. Francesco is a psychologist who was left by his wife to raise three daughters alone. Now in their adulthood, the daughters are going through various hurdles in their love lives: Marta has fallen for a thief, Sara has just been dumped by her girlfriend, and 18-year-old Emma (to the exasperation of her father) is in a relationship with Alessandro, a 50-year-old married architect. Each daughter loves Francesco dearly, and despite his protests, they collectively enlist him to counsel them in the ways of men.

I Can Quit Whenever I Want
I Can Quit Whenever I Want

From talented newcomer Sydney Sibilia, comes the most popular comedy of 2014, I Can Quit Whenever I Want, about a group of unemployed neo-graduates who turn to producing and trafficking synthetic drugs. In the style of Breaking Bad and Ocean’s Eleven, this film has become a cult hit in Italy since its release.

Pietro (Edoardo Leo) is a researcher and a genius who has just been laid off. In order to survive, he recruits the best of his colleagues: economists, chemists and anthropologists in order to result in the A-team of drug dealing. Success is immediate, but at what cost? With a backdrop of the economic and job crisis, we see the world in the most disillusioned and lighthearted way imaginable – it’s sincere and honest with a good dose of nastiness, resulting in a very funny treat!

Full program details and ticket information available at www.italianfilmfestival.com.au, or at Palace Byron Bay box office.

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