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:: Spotlight :: 2014 Lavazza Italian Film Festival

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

Marina, a gloriously entertaining biopic that tells the true story of singer, songwriter and accordionist, Rocco Granata, will launch the 2014 Lavazza Italian Film Festival.

Based on Granata’s early life, Marina charts his rise from humble beginnings, as the son of a Calabrian coal miner, to his emergence as a musical phenomenon with the release of his 1959 song Marina, which became one of the biggest international hits of that era. Directed by multi-award winning filmmaker Stijn Conix (When the Light Comes, Daens), produced by the Dardenne brothers and starring the smouldering Matteo Simoni as Granata, along with famed screen-star, Luigi Lo Cascio, the nostalgic charm of Marina is certain to leave audiences with a smile on their face, and a spring in their step!

Bringing a dash of Mediterranean romance to 15 superb Palace locations from mid-September to late October, the Festival’s 15th annual outing will screen 33 show-stopping new features and documentaries and one glamourous classic, showcasing the charisma of Italy’s most engaging actors, from Kim Rossi Stuart, Raoul Bova, Monica Bellucci and Claudio Santamaria to Giovanna Mezzorgiorno, Valeria Golino, Margherita Buy and Sergio Rubini.

50 years after its first release, the Sophia Loren/Marcello Mastroianni classic Marriage Italian Style has been restored by Cineteca di Bologna, Technicolor Foundation for Cinema Heritage and Memory Cinéma, in collaboration with Surf Film and will be presented as the Closing Night film in each city. This triumph will support the special events presented by Peroni and Enoteca Sileno, and a fabulous international guest (to be announced).

If you’re seeking the ultimate Italian espresso, whilst indulging in some ‘cinema italiano’, look no further than Lavazza, whom the Festival is once again honoured to have as the naming rights partner. Lavazza is proudly served at all Palace Cinemas so attendees year-round can enjoy the premium taste of Barista made coffee.

Highlights of the 2014 line-up include:

A LONELY HERO (L’INTREPIDO)
Director: Gianni Amelio | 2013 | 104 mins
Starring: Antonio Albanese, Livia Rossi, Gabriele Rendina & Ginevra Antona
Amelio’s deadpan parable follows a small everyday hero from Milan who throws himself at a wide array of “substitute” jobs with a deep moral consistency as he reinvents himself with each new day.

DARKER THAN MIDNIGHT (PIÙ BUIO DI MEZZANOTTE)
Director: Sebastian Riso | 2014 | 98 mins
Starring: Davide Capone, Vincenzo Amato, Lucia Sardo & Micaela Ramazzotti
With his effeminate looks, Davide is different from other teenage boys. Fleeing a brutish home life, his intuition leads him to take refuge in Villa Bellini, a park in Catania. Villa Bellini is a world in itself, populated by the marginalized, to which the rest of the city turns a blind eye. But one day the past encroaches on the present and Davide has to face the most difficult choice of his tender years. Based in part on the life of drag artist Davide Cordova, this evocative drama screened in Critics’ Week at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.

THE FIFTH WHEEL (L’ULTIMA RUOTA DEL CARRO)
Director: Giovanni Veronesi | 2013 | 113 mins
Starring: Elio Germano, Alessandra Mastronardi, Ricky Memphis & Sergio Rubini
Veronesi’s irresistible romantic comedy journeys through four decades of recent Italian history on the back of a good-hearted, honest middle-class guy who always finds himself a step behind.

I CAN QUIT WHENEVER I WANT (SMETTO QUANDO VOGLIO)
Director: Sydney Sibilia | 2014 | 100 mins
Starring: Edoardo Leo, Valeria Solarino, Valeria Aprea & Paolo Calabresi
A band of brilliant under-employed academics turn to a life of crime in order to survive in this biting parody on the plight of the Italian middle-class in the aftermath of the economic crisis.

THE MAFIA ONLY KILLS IN SUMMER (LA MAFIA UCCIDE SOLO D’ESTATE)
Director: Pierfrancesco Diliberto | 2013 | 89 mins
Starring: Cristiana Capotondi, Pif & Alex Bisconti
In Pierfrancesco “Pif” Diliberto’s irreverent feature debut, a young boy’s obsession with the Mafia surpasses even his passion for the beautiful schoolmate who remains his main love interest until adulthood.

QUIET BLISS (IN GRAZIA DI DIO)
Director: Edoardo Winspeare | 2014 | 127 mins
Starring: Celeste Casciaro, Laura Licchetta, Anna Bocadamo & Barbara De Matteis
Three generations of women seek refuge in their family’s Salento olive grove after their small textile business collapses in this warm and vibrant drama, set against the radiant southern Italian landscape.

SACRO GRA
Director: Gianfranco Rosi | 2013 | 93 mins
The first documentary to win the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, Rosi’s latest film reveals the sheer diversity of life bubbling around the margins of the 43.5-mile highway that encircles Rome.

SONG OF NAPOLI (SONG’E NAPULE)
Directors: Antonio Manetti, Marco Manetti | 2013 | 114 mins
Starring: Alessandro Roja, Giampaolo Morelli & Serena Rossi
The charismatic Alessandro Roja plays Paco, a nerdy and exceptionally talented piano player, who after resorting to a low-level job with the Naples police force is reluctantly enlisted on a dangerous top-priority case to go undercover as “Pino Dynamite” - a member of Lollo Love’s pop-music band in order to capture a Camorra boss known as “The Ghost”.

THE SOUTH IS NOTHING (IL SUD È NIENTE)
Director: Fabio Mollo | 2013 | 86 mins
Starring: Miriam Karlkvist, Vinicio Marchioni, Valentina Lodovini & Andrea Bellisario
A teenage tomboy who hasn’t spoken a word since the death of her beloved brother runs away from home and finds herself on a quest to learn the truth about her lost sibling and, ultimately, herself.

THOSE HAPPY YEARS (ANNI FELICI)
Director: Daniele Luchetti | 2013 | 100 mins
Starring: Kim Rossi Stuart, Micaela Ramazzotti & Martina Gedeck
Luchetti’s warm-hearted, bittersweet autobiographical account of his childhood as a budding filmmaker witnessing his parents’ tumultuous relationship

The 2014 Lavazza Italian Film Festival will take place nationally at Palace Cinemas on the following dates:

VIC: 17 Sept - 12 OctPalace Cinema Como, Palace Balwyn, Palace Brighton Bay, Palace Westgarth, The Kino Cinemas
NSW: 18 Sept - 12 OctPalace Verona, Palace Norton Street & Chauvel Cinema
ACT: 23 Sept - 15 OctPalace Electric
WA: 24 Sept - 15 OctCinema Paradiso & Luna on SX
QLD: 1 Oct - 22 OctPalace Barracks & Palace Centro
SA 2 Oct - 22 Oct Palace Nova Eastend
BYRON 9 Oct - 15 OctPalace Byron Bay
TAS: 16 Oct - 22 OctState Cinema

For updates, check the official website

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**Update as at September 2, 2014**

As exotic as the Indian princess for whom she was named, rising Italian movie star Nadir Caselli will be a guest of the 2014 Lavazza Italian Film Festival. But don’t be fooled by her youth and beauty – with a black belt in Karate, this is one young lady who can take care of herself! Audiences will be able to catch Nadir in not just one, but two Festival highlights; the infectious romantic confection University: More than Friends (Universitari – Molto più che amici) and the hit ensemble comedy, I Can Quit Whenever I Want (Smetto quando voglio).

A sought-after model in her teens, Nadir who is fluent in English, made her screen debut in 2008 at just 18 when she starred in director Matteo Rovere’s drama Bad Girls (Un gioco da ragazze) an evocative snapshot of teenage Europe, which made the Italian film industry take immediate note of this gorgeous actress. A role in the romantic comedy Kiss Me Again directed by Gabriel Muccino, alongside Italian heartthrobs, Pierfrancesco Favino and Claudio Santamaria, was swiftly followed by the popular Italian TV series, Tutti Per Bruno, in which she was a key cast member.

Nadir, who learned her craft at the famed Teatro a Vista Acting School (and also studied languages at Rome’s Roma Tre University), was named ‘Best Actress’ at the Cittadella del Corto Festival for her performance in the short film Just a Game (Solo un gioco). More films beckoned, including director Paolo Genovese’s The Immaturi (with Raoul Bova and Barbora Bobulova) and the smash hit comedy, The Worst Week of my Life (a hit at LIFF 2013). Nadir also starred with Italian comic legend, Carlo Verdone, in A Flat for Three and found time to front modelling campaigns for high-end clothing labels Maggie Jeans and Marina Yachting.

Given her burgeoning list of cinematic credits, it’s no wonder that Fabrique du Cinema – Italy’s foremost movie magazine - recently cited Nadir as one of Italy’s six most promising actors. In addition to presenting screenings of her two Festival films, Nadir Caselli will attend the Festival’s Gala Opening Nights in Melbourne and Sydney.

For more information, visit

www.italianfilmfestival.com.au