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:: Spotlight :: 2008 Lavazza Italian Film Festival

By: Matylda Buczko

Not since the glory days of Fellini and Antonioni has Italian cinema enjoyed such a creative and critically acknowledged resurgence, with films like Paolo Sorrentino’s witty political expose IL DIVO, Andrea Molaioli’s beguiling thriller THE GIRL BY THE LAKE (La Ragazza Del Lago), Silvio Soldini’s family drama DAYS AND CLOUDS (Giorno E Nuvole) and Andrea Porporati’s revealing Mafia portrait THE SWEET AND THE BITTER (Il Dolce E L’Amaro) exciting audiences and reviewers alike…and that’s just a small but tantalizing sample of what awaits at this year’s LAVAZZA ITALAN FILM FESTIVAL.

In keeping with the robust passion for life and love for which Italy and its citizens are renowned, the line-up for the 2008 Festival is a seductive blend of old and new with 25 outstanding new films, representing the best in contemporary Italian cinema, plus an amazing Retrospective featuring 12 movies that provide a mesmerizing snapshot of Italy’s finest celluloid moments throughout the last four decades.

Now in its ninth evocative year, the Festival is also delighted to continue its longstanding association with Lavazza, Italy’s favourite coffee, who will once again be the event’s major sponsor. With over a century of experience behind them, Festival patrons can be assured that when they enjoy a Lavazza coffee, they are truly experiencing Italy’s definitive espresso.

Opening this year’s Festival will be HER WHOLE LIFE AHEAD (Tutta La Vita Davanti) from director Paolo Virzi. Hailed by international critics, including industry bible Variety, as one of the best Italian comedies of recent times, this witty satire takes a whimsical look at the lives, loves and struggles which beset the employees of an Italian call centre.

And if you’re in the mood to be dazzled, be prepared to enjoy the latest performances from Italy’s biggest stars who will display their talents alongside some of the country’s most exciting newcomers. Look out for Italian heart-throbs Luigi Lo Cascio, Silvio Muccino and Kim Rossi Stuart who will be joined on-screen by Margherita Buy, Jasmine Trinca, Valeria Golino, Fanny Ardant, Valentina Cervi and, the eternally alluring Monica Bellucci, who stars in the hotly anticipated drama WILD BLOOD (Sanguepazzo) from BEST OF YOUTH director Marco Tullio Giordana.

Our 2008 Retrospective will feature such cinematic gems as Federico Fellini’s AMACORD (1974); Vittorio De Sica’s beloved comedy MARRIAGE ITALIAN-STYLE (1964); Maurio Bolognini’s THE LOVERS (1961); Francesco Rosi’s THREE BROTHERS (1981); Pietro Germi’s SERAFINO (1969) and E.B. Clucher’s cult spaghetti-western THEY CALL ME TRINITY (1970).

2008 programme highlights include:

Days and Clouds (Giorno E Nuvole)
Director: Silvio Soldini
The day after a lavish birthday party, Elsa (Margherita Buy) discovers that her husband Michele (Antonio Albanese) hasn't worked in months. Soon, the altered circumstances begin to bite, causing a schism in the marriage, and further strain with their 20-year-old daughter.

Il Divo
Writer/Director: Paolo Sorrentino
This original and witty political opera looks at the life and longevity of eighty-nine year-old Giulio Andreotti, who has been Italy’s prime-minister three times and enjoyed an uninterrupted sixty two years as a parliamentarian, despite twenty-six separate court cases on charges including corruption and Mafia involvement.

Piano Solo
Director: Riccardo Milani
Based on a novel by Walter Veltroni, the perceptive new film from award-winning director Riccardo Milani tells the passionate and haunting true story of jazz pianist Luca Flores, portrayed by Kim Rossi Stuart.

Rush Hour (L’Ora Di Punta)
Director: Vincenzo Marra
Nominated for a Golden Lion at the 2007 Venice International Film Festival, this engrossing new thriller follows a young tax officer who recklessly commits fraud and bribery to join the nouveau riche of Rome.

The Girl by the Lake (La Ragazza Del Lago)
Director: Andrea Molaioli
In this engrossing thriller that swept this year’s David di Donatello Awards (Italian Oscars), an idyllic town is shocked by the murder of a young and beautiful woman, whose naked and mysteriously unscathed body, is found alongside a lake.

The Rest of the Night (Il Resto Della Notte)
Director: Francesco Munzi
In the wealthy industrialized north, Silvana, the depressed wife of a provincial industrialist, persuades herself that Maria, her young Romanian maid, is stealing valuable objects around the villa. With no proof and against her husband’s wishes, Silvana fires Maria without notice; an action that sets off a chain of events which lead to a tremendously tense conclusion.

The Sweet and the Bitter (Il Dolce E L’Amaro)
Director: Andrea Porporati
Luigi Lo Cascio gives one of his finest performances in this revealing portrait of a young man’s seduction by the Mafia, viewed over twenty years.

Wild Blood (Sanguepazzo)
Director: Marco Tullio Giordana
Based on the true story of Luisa Ferida (Monica Bellucci) and Osvaldo Valenti (Luca Zingaretti), two renowned actors of 1940’s Italian Fascist cinema, who were found dead under mysterious circumstances.

Melbourne - September 17 to October 5 - Palace Balwyn, Cinema Como, Palace Westgarth & Kino
Sydney - September 24 to October 12 - Palace Norton Street & Academy Twin
Brisbane - October 1 to 19 - Palace Centro Cinemas
Perth - October 15 to 29 - Cinema Paradiso & Luna on SX
Adelaide - October 16 to 29 - Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas
Canberra - November 13 to 23 - Greater Union Manuka


Preview - Girl By The Lake

One of the benefits of living in Melbourne is that the city is not only inherently multicultural, but is also renowned for its appreciation, encouragement and wealth of global arts and entertainment. This passion allows Melburnians to be exposed annually to films and cinema from around the world, most famously through the Melbourne International Film Festival. Apart from this event, we are invited throughout the year to experience the films of India, Israel, Japan and more, and this month, we welcome films from Italy to our shores.

The Lavazza Italian Film Festival 2008 begins its journey in Melbourne on September 17 and will visit each capital city until late November, bringing to audiences an array of scenically beautiful, thematically challenging and heart-warming tales. One of the films featured in this wonderful tapestry of contemporary Italian film is multi-award winning La Raggaza del Lago, or Girl By The Lake, directed by Andrea Molaioli. The film is based on Karin Fossum’s novel Don’t Look Back, released for the first time in Italy in 2003.

This 2007 film deals with the murder of a beautiful, young girl Anna, and as with all good murder mysteries, the identity of the killer is never obvious, with suspicions being cast on almost every character in the small town. Centre of the story, and responsible for solving the case, is Detective Giovanna Sanzio (Tony Servillo) - an experienced and admired detective, close to retiring and with a history of personal struggle behind him. This case affects him more grimly as he is raising a teenage daughter of his own and struggles to cope with a sick wife, whose condition causes her to suffer from a form of amnesia, not even able to recognise her own family.

The cinematography features breathtakingly saturated Italian landscapes, while the absence of the melodramatic, action-packed drama of Hollywood murder-mysteries allows this film to freshly portray the atmosphere of a small town following a shocking murder. The film is dotted with colourful characters who all give clues for a motive, thus leaving the audience truly guessing as to who the culprit might be.

Winner of Best First Director, Best Actor, and Best Screenplay at the Nastri D’Argento Awards, and winner of the Critic’s Week and SNGCI Award at the Venice Film Festival 2007, you can be sure this will be a hit at the upcoming festival.

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