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:: Spotlight :: 2013 Lavazza Italian Film Festival

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

For sensual tales that explore the spectrum of human emotions, look no further than the 2013 Lavazza Italian Film Festival. Proudly presented by Palace Cinemas with the generous support of chief sponsor Lavazza, famed for their expertly crafted coffee blends, the Festival will commence its 14th season from early October to mid-November, screening across 7 cities at 14 romantically indulgent Palace locations.

Continuing its tradition of unveiling a ‘semplicemente superbo’ selection of contemporary Italian cinema, the Festival will present over 27 features and documentaries showcasing the considerable talents of Italy’s internationally renowned film industry. The scope of the Festival is a voyage throughout Italy, and even the world, plunging to the depths of emotion, and heights of delight, all through the eyes of Italy’s best directors.

Launching the 2013 Festival at Opening Night Galas nationally will be The Great Beauty (La grande bellezza) from writer/director Paolo Sorrentino who gained worldwide acclaim with his 2008 drama, Il Divo. A sweeping, evocative tale in the style of Rossellini and Fellini, starring famed Italian actors, Toni Servillo and Carlo Verdone, The Great Beauty garnered many plaudits at this year’s Cannes International Film Festival and tells the story of a celebrated, yet jaded journalist whose glittering, but empty lifestyle is instilled with fresh hope through the memories of a past love and the promise of one to come.

Additional highlights of the Festival’s 2013 programme include:

Honey (Miele)
- Director: Valeria Golino
- Starring: Jasmine Trinca, Carlo Cecci, Libero De Rienzo & Vinicio Marchioni
Officially selected for Un Certain Regard at Cannes 2013, this finely-tuned drama is the outstanding directorial debut of actress Valeria Golino, known to English-speaking audiences through her lead roles in Rain Man and Hot Shots. Irene (Jasmine Trinca, The Son’s Room, LIFF 2001) 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 withdignity. However the work is not without its costs and Irene lives a largely insulated life with personal relationships kept at arm’s length. But when retired architect Carlo (Carlo Cecchi) enlists her services, a tense yet caring relationship results, causing her usually fierce code of ethics to be tested.

I Travel Alone (Viaggio sola)
- Director: Maria Sole Tognazzi
- Starring: Margherita Buy, Stefano Accorsi, Fabrizio Sacchi & Lesley Manville
Described by Hollywood Reporter as “part Up In The Air, part Eat Pray Love,” drama and comedy are effortlessly fused in this clever and stylish world-tour of hotels across Paris, Berlin, the Alps, and Marrakesh from thedirector of The Man Who Loves (LIFF 2009). Hotel critic, Irene (Margherita Buy) 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. Nominated in 5 David di Donatello (Italian Academy Awards) categories and winner of Best Actress for Margherita Buy, I Travel Alone was also named Best Comedy at the renowned Nastro d’Argento Awards (Europe’s oldest film awards, bestowed by Italy’s National Syndication of Film Journalists).

Salvo
- Writer/Director: Fabio Grassadonia & Antonio Piazza
- Starring: Saleh Bakri, Sara Serraiocco, Luigi Lo Cascio & Mario Pupella
A henchman for the Sicilian Mafia, Salvo is solitary, cold and ruthless in this Italian film noir, which won the Critics’ Week Grand Prix at the 2013 Cannes International Film Festival. After being ambushed by a rival Mafia clan, and winning the shootout, Salvo sneaks into the house of one of the last members to finish the job. Upon entry he discovers Rita, a beautiful, young blind girl who powerlessly stands by while he assassinates her brother. After sparing Rita’s life, Salvo escorts her to an abandoned factory where she is held captive. He battles with his duty to dispose of this witness while his fascination with her grows. An intense part-miracle results in what will be an unbreakable bond between the two.

The Interval (L’intervallo)
- Director: Leonardo di Costanzo
- Starring: Francesca Riso, Alessio Gallo, Carmine Paternoster & Salvagore Ruocco
17-year-old Salvatore, or Toto as he is nicknamed (Alessio Gallo), spends his days selling lemon crushed-ice from a cart in a run-down area ofNaples. Setting out for business one seemingly regular day, he is forcefully enlisted by the local Camorra boss, Bernardino (Carmine Paternoster, Gomorrah) to temporarily guard 15-year-old wild child Veronica (Francesco Riso) in a dilapidated warehouse. Toto is initially resentful, unaware of the reasons for being handed this task. Meanwhile Veronica loathes her imprisonment and her ‘babysitter’. However, as time passes, a friendship develops, despite the sense of impending doom that prevails asthey anticipate the return of Bernadino and the fate that awaits Veronica. Reflecting the omnipresent power of criminals that resides beneath the buff and shine of Silvio Berlusconi's Italy, The Interval is deservedly receiving accolades worldwide and won Best New Director for Leonardo di Costanzo at the David di Donatello Awards.

The 2013 Lavazza Italian Film Festival will take place nationally at Palace Cinemas on the following dates:

VIC: 2 October to 27 October - Palace Cinema Como, Kino Cinemas, Palace Westgarth, Palace Balwyn & Palace Brighton Bay
QLD: 3 October to 22 October - Palace Barracks & Palace Centro
ACT: 8 October to 23 October - Palace Electric
NSW: 9 October to 3 November - Palace Verona, Chauvel Cinema
WA: 10 October to 23 October - Paradiso, Luna on SX
Byron: 11 October to 16 October - Palace Byron Bay
SA: 22 October to 10 November - Palace Nova Eastend

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**Update as at September 20, 2013**

Lavazza and Palace Cinemas are thrilled to welcome supermodel Nicole Trunfio to the family as ambassador for the 2013 Lavazza Italian Film Festival. Now dividing her time between the runways of New York and Australia, the West Australian local is of Italian-Australian background and has worked with the world’s best known fashion houses including Chanel, Versace, Fendi, Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana, and friend of Lavazza, Roberto Cavalli.

Lavazza National Marketing Manager, Stuart Smyth, said Nicole was an easy choice for this year’s face of the Festival, “Lavazza is proud to again be the major sponsor of the Lavazza Italian Film Festival and for us Nicole is the perfect ambassador for the festival as she is young, stylish, well-travelled and of course a lover of a quality espresso.”

“We’re excited to host Nicole while she’s in Australia and we’re hoping to take her to some of our top restaurants where Lavazza coffee is served. She will also be appearing at Palace Cinemas in Melbourne and Sydney for the Festival's Gala Opening Nights along with international film star Clara Ponsot,” said Smyth.

Now in its 14th year of screening some of the Italian industry’s most acclaimed films, the Lavazza Italian Film Festival will host its Gala Opening on Wednesday 2 October at Como Palace Cinemas, Melbourne. The month-long Lavazza Italian Film Festival will this year play in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth and Byron Bay.

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**Update as at September 21, 2013**

The breathtakingly beautiful Clara Ponsot, the young French actress who is fast becoming one of Europe’s hottest stars, will visit Australia as a guest of the 14th annual LAVAZZA ITALIAN FILM FESTIVAL. Clara will be visiting Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney and Canberra to promote her first Italian-speaking role in her latest feature film, COSIMO AND NICOLE - a passionate highlight of this year’s Festival program.

Starring opposite Italian heartthrob Riccardo Scamarcio (THE AGES OF LOVE – LIFF 2011), COSIMO AND NICOLE tells the story of beautiful, impulsive Frenchwoman Nicole (Ponsot) who embarks on a torrid affair with Cosimo (Scamarcio) during the dramatic Genoa G8 riots. After much wandering, the lovers return to Genoa where they begin organizing rock shows for a concert-promoter friend, Paolo. All goes well, until a sudden, disastrous on-set accident throws their lives into turmoil, forcing them to question their own morals, devotion and loyalty to one another.

Born in France, Ponsot, who speaks fluent Italian and French, studied in Paris at the Conservatoire National Supérieur d’Art Drammatique, one of Europe’s most prestigious acting schools. Winner of the 2013 French “Révélation” César Award (France’s equivalent of the Academy Awards), she has emerged in recent times as one of the country’s most popular young actresses. Her early film credits include BUS PALLADIUM, NOBODY ELSE BUT YOU and BYE BYE BLONDIE, in which she portrayed Emmanuelle Béart’s character as a young woman.

Clara Ponsot will attend the Festival’s Opening Night Galas in Melbourne and Sydney along with COSIMO AND NICOLE Screening/Q&A events in Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney and Canberra as follows:

MELBOURNE
Wed 2 Oct Opening Night Gala at Palace Cinema Como
Fri 4 Oct 6.45pm session of COSIMO AND NICOLE at Palace Cinema Como followed by Q&A

BRISBANE
Sat 5 Oct 4.15pm session of COSIMO AND NICOLE at Palace Barracks followed by Q&A

SYDNEY
Wed 9 Oct Opening Night Gala at Palace Verona
Thu 10 Oct 6.30pm session of COSIMO AND NICOLE at Palace Verona followed by Q&A

CANBERRA
Fri 11 Oct 6.30pm session of COSIMO AND NICOLE at Palace Electric followed by Q&A

For more information, visit

www.italianfilmfestival.com.au