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April 12, 2021

Film festival brings the flavour of Italy to Byron Bay

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Il Conformista
Il Conformista (The Conformist)

The Lavazza Italian Film Festival returns to Palace Byron Bay this month offering audiences the chance to experience the elegance, beauty and boldness that is Italian cinema.

The program will feature an exciting line up of brand new comedies, romantic tales, crime thrillers and gripping dramas including the closing night classic, Academy Award nominated The Conformist (Il Conformista), which sees the return to the big screen of acclaimed director Bernardo Bertolucci’s visually intoxicating art deco style adaptation of Alberto Moravia’s novel about an upper-class follower of Mussolini.

The festival opens on Friday September 18 with the award-winning box office smash hit, God Willing (Se Dio Vuole), starring Italian heartthrob Alessandro Gassman with Marco Giallini and Laura Morante, in a comedy about an atheist surgeon with a God-complex, a charismatic priest, a dysfunctional family and an announcement that takes everyone by surprise!

Opening night tickets include pre-film drinks and after party with live entertainment, food, drinks – plus the coveted Italian gift bags!

Alessandro Gassman and Marco Giallini in God Willing.
Alessandro Gassman and Marco Giallini in God Willing.

The gripping crime thriller Perez, for which star Luca Zingaretti won Best Actor award at the Italian Golden Globes,  depicts an urban wasteland hiding the underbelly of organised crime through the filtered lens of the justice systems. Also delving into the criminal world is Black Souls (Anime Nere), an elegant, seething and expertly directed, award-winning thriller by Francesco Munzi which is a timeless and powerful tale about the challenges of breaking cycles of crime and violence.

This year will see a string of Italian comedies light up the screen with highlights including Latin Lover, a charming and amusing new offering from acclaimed writer/director Cristina Comencini which tells the story of the life and secrets of the great Italian star Saverio Crispo, a ‘Latin lover’ played seductively by Francesco Scianna. Winner of the Best Comedy at the Italian Golden Globes in 2015, The Legendary Giulia (Noi E La Giulia) by Roman actor/director Edoardo Leo brings a fantastic cast together to tell the story of three down-on-their-luck men who meet by chance and decide to combine forces and risk everything to start a Bed and Breakfast. Warm-hearted, comedic gem Do You See Me? (Scusate Se Esisto!) stars Paola Cortellesi and Raoul Bova and delivers laugh-out-loud moments to celebrate the importance of individual value and being true to oneself. Finally, Mia Madre is the lively and brilliantly absurd comic clash from veteran director Nanni Moretti featuring John Turturro and an award winning performance from Margherita Buy as an unhinged filmmaker dealing with a personal crisis.

Wondrous Boccaccio
Wondrous Boccaccio

Other films set to deliver laughs are Unique Brothers (Fratelli Unici), a delightful comedy about family and second chances starring handsome duo Raoul Bova as a man suffering memory loss, and Luke Argentero as his irresponsible younger brother; A Fairytale Wedding (Un Matrimonio Da Favola), in which a whirlwind of comedic misunderstandings arise when four high school friends reconnect years later at a lavish wedding; Soap Opera, in which the kooky tenants of an apartment block experience a sudden and shocking situation when they let their private lives, past secrets and crazy passions intervene; and So Far So Good (Fino A Qui Tutto Bene), a touching comedy that that brings together five fantastic young actors who play university graduates facing important life choices.  Director Matteo Garrone’s English language debut Tales Of Tales (Il Raccoto Dei Racconti), featuring an all-star cast of Salma Hayek, Toby Jones, Vincent Cassel, John C. Riley, Shirley Henderson and Hayley Carmichael. Not for the faint hearted, the film delves into the depths of the human psyches in a delicious dream-like visual feast brimming with imagination and mischief.

Laetitia Casta in A Woman as a Friend
Laetitia Casta in A Woman as a Friend

Romantic tales are sure to delight at this year’s festival, with a selection including Wondrous Boccaccio (Maraviglioso Boccaccio) where love triumphs over death in veteran filmmakers Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s reinterpretation of Giovanni Boccaccio’s classic The Decameron; What A Beautiful Surprise (Ma Che Bellasorpresa), a classic romantic comedy of errors from the master Alessandro Genovese, about a jilted hopeless romantic who is surprised when he is given a second chance for love; and A Woman As A Friend (Una Donna Per Amica), an hilarious rom-com from Giovanni Veronesi, the director of box office sensation MANUAL OF LOVE, starring French model/actress Laetitia Casta and Fabio De Luigi.

Coming-of-age is explored in Short Skin, a surprising pleasure and profound drama that perfectly interweaves family drama and cheeky comedy; and Italo, a charming tale for all ages that depicts the life-altering friendship between an extraordinary dog and a lonely child. The fascinating bio-pic Leopardi (Il Giovane Favoloso) is a highly acclaimed and engrossing historical drama about the talent and struggle of Italy’s greatest 19th-century poet Giacomo Leopardi, a radical thinker and philosopher who produced inspiring works and intelligent prose that have influenced countless others, played by Elio Germano (Best Actor, Cannes Film Festival 2010).

Stefano Accorsi in Mafia and Red Tomatoes
Stefano Accorsi in Mafia and Red Tomatoes

Other titles that form part of this year’s festival line up include Partly Cloudy With Sunny Spells (Tempo Instabile Con Probabili Schiarite), a warm-hearted comedy with a conscience about generation clashes, new horizons and an oil discovery in a small town starring Luca Zingaretti, John Turturro and Pasquale Petrolo; and Mafia & Red Tomatoes (La Nostra Terra). Based on the real-life work of the Libera association, this recent Italian box-office hit tackles the issue of mafia power over communities with redemptive joy and a smile; and the Australian Premiere of the Venice multi award winning The Dinner (I Nostri Ragazzi), which follows the moral struggle facing two wealthy brothers and their wives in this gripping adaptation of the best-selling novel by Herman Koch.


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