Festival serves up slice of Italy

By Michele McPherson

Mamma mia - New Zealand's second largest film festival is heading to Tauranga next month.
The Italian Film Festival screened last year in Tauranga for the first time, much to the delight of fans of European films.
This year the festival will screen 17 films over two weeks, from November 17 to December 1, at Rialto Cinema in Tauranga.
It's the 15th consecutive year the event has run nationally, and it will screen in eight centres.
Director Tony Lambert said the festival had developed into the most successful cultural film festival, and was the second largest film festival in the country.
"It is also the largest, and only national, Italian event, both business and cultural, in New Zealand."
Mr Lambert said the Italian film industry was experiencing a "renaissance".
"Over the past decade the Italian domestic audience has acquired a renewed appetite to see films about themselves, their lives, their troubles, their history, their country."
Italians, he said, wanted to see Italian films - even the younger generation.
And the New Zealand Italian Film Festival has benefited from this abundance of new Italian film - the films in the festival are from 2007-2010.
"There is a greater range for festival organisers to choose from, which means the films that succeed in reaching the final programme are rich in variety and style.
"They are a select bunch that represents the best of filmmaking and all the nuances of Italian life - this year's selection does exactly that," Mr Lambert said.
And as a connoisseur of Italian film, Mr Lambert is used to being asked for film recommendations.
And he'll always give the same answer: "Pick a time when you can indulge yourself with around two hours of great entertainment, and go and see the film that is screening then."
All the films are in Italian with English subtitles, something which shouldn't be a problem for Tauranga and New Zealand film audiences, who are increasingly open to subtitled films.


Clayton Morgan, cinema manager of Tauranga Rialto Cinema, said during the New Zealand International Film Festivals the popularity of mainstream blockbusters such as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire had opened up a new audience for subtitled films.
Highlights of the festival include the gala opening night movie Many Kisses Later, directed by Fausto Brizzi.
The film won an award for comedy at the 2009 Italian Golden Globes.
Described as "a brisk romantic comedy about that crazy little thing called love", the film asks the question about how love endures.
The movie follows six couples between Christmas and Valentine's Day in episodes that intertwine and revolve around the end of a love affair, and the ways formers lovers can shape our lives.
Many Kisses Later shows relationships that have turned into hatred, into friendship, and ones where the flame of love still burns.
Some lovers have lost sight of each other by choice, others by a bizarre twist of fate, others by mistake. But the film's message is clear: exes remain a part of our lives and who we are, for better or worse, is at least in part due to them.
Another highlight is Un giorno perfetto - A Perfect Day.
The film, which netted a best actress award for Isabella Ferrari at the 2008 Venice Film festival, is based on a novel by Melania Mazzucco.
The drama, directed by Ferzan Ozpetek, captures the 24 hours in the lead-up to the moment the lives of a group of people became irreversibly intertwined.
Antonio (Valerio Mastandrea) is a bodyguard. He refuses to accept that his marriage to Emma (Isabella Ferrari) is over.
Their two children welcome reconciliation but Emma knows this can never be. Meanwhile, his boss, MP Fioravanti (Valerio Binasco), tries frantically to salvage his political career, unaware that he is destroying his personal life. Then there is Mara, a lonely and complicated teacher who re-discovers her long lost love.
Woven against the frenetic backdrop of Rome, their stories inspire a compelling contemporary mixture of love and politics. Ozpetek, a master of subtle and involving ensemble drama, constructs a sensitive atmosphere that touches tenderly on the characters' emotions while inexorably building the suspense to a shattering, powerful denouement.
The film Giulia Doesn't Go Out At Night comes with high praise - it won David Di Donatello awards in 2009 for best actress and best song.
Director Giuseppe Piccioni is at the helm of this compelling story of love, drama and intrigue.
Giulia teaches at a swimming pool. One of her pupils is the young daughter of Guido (Valerio Mastandrea), a married and successful writer.
The Italian Film Festival screens in Tauranga at Rialto Cinema from November 17 to December 1.
For full film details, see www.italianfilmfestival.co.nz

- Bay of Plenty Times

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