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:: Spotlight :: 2017 Lavazza Italian Film Festival

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

Presented by Palace, the 18th Lavazza Italian Film Festival screens nationally in September presenting over 30 of the best films from cinema masters and ground breaking new talent from Italy.

Festival Director Elysia Zeccola said: “The Venice, Rome, Berlin and Cannes film festivals have featured an exciting range of star-studded Italian films in the last 12 months and we are excited to be presenting them on the big screen. The festival is a celebration of Italian cinema, language, culture and la dolce vita and you can’t find that sitting on your couch at home.”

The first 12 titles from the 2017 program have been announced – they include:
FORTUNATA starring Jasmine Trinca (Wondrous Boccaccio LIFF’15) in a performance that earned her the Best Actress Award in Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival and the Best Lead Actress Award at this weeks Nastri d’Argento Awards. Sergio Castellitto’s emotionally charged tale of a single mother fighting for her independence will captivate audiences. Also stars Stefano Accorsi (HBO’s The Young Pope).

Box-office smash hit and 2017 Nastri d’Argento Award winner for Best Comedy IT’S THE LAW! (L’ORA LEGALE) from directing duo Salvo Ficarra and Valentino Picone about small town politics in the Sicilian village of Pietrammare where the tainted leadership of a crooked mayor is set to be challenged. The ensemble cast includes Ficarra and Picone alongside Vincenzo Amato, Leo Gullotta, Tony Sperandeo and Antonio Catania.

From the director of Welcome to the South (LIFF ’11) and Welcome to the North (LIFF ’12) Luca Miniero comes the hilarious new comedy MESSY CHRISTMAS (NON C’E PIU RELIGIONE) set on the small island of Porto Buio where the town mayor (Claudio Bisio, What a Beautiful Surprise LIFF ‘15) enlists the help of local Islam convert Bilal (Alessandro Gassman, God Willing LIFF ‘15) to find a child to play baby Jesus in the traditional Christmas nativity scene… but as the island birth rate has been zero for years the only solution may be to change Jesus’ nationality, and even his religion!

Directed by Massimo Gaudioso, screenwriter of numerous Italian films such as Tale of Tales (LIFF ’15) and Gomorrah, comes AN ALMOST PERFECT TOWN (UN PAESE QUASI PERFETTO) starring Silvio Orlando (HBO’s The Young Pope, The Human Factor LIFF ‘14). Set in the stunning mountains of the Lucan Dolomites of Southern Italy, this small town is deserted by most of its youth leaving just a small group of ex-miners. But when a new factory is announced, this could be the solution to all the town’s problems.

Winner of the Italian Golden Globe for Best Comedy, Francesco Amato’s LET YOURSELF GO! stars Toni Servillo (The Great Beauty LIFF ’13) as a Jewish psychoanalyst who lives on the same floor as his ex-wife Giovanna. After a minor illness, his doctor prescribes physical activity and at the gym he meets Claudia, a personal trainer who will change his life.

Mirko Frezza plays a hardened ex-con who returns to his working-class Rome suburb in the moving drama I WAS A DREAMER (IL PIÙ GRANDE SOGNO), directed by Michele Vannucci and starring Alessandro Borghi (Don’t Be Bad LIFF ‘16, Fortunata LIFF ‘17). But the path to redemption is difficult when your father is a criminal and temptation is around every corner.

The feature debut from Simone Godano WIFE & HUSBAND (MOGLIE E MARITO) is a body-swap comedy starring Pierfrancesco Favino (Suburra) and Kasia Smutniak (Perfect Strangers LIFF ‘16) as Andrea and Sofia. After ten years of marriage they are on the verge of divorce but when a scientific experiment leaves their bodies seemingly irreversibly swapped, they have no choice but to live each other’s lives… and they are in for some surprises.

Benedict Cumberbatch narrates the fascinating documentary NAPLES ’44 (NAPOLI ’44) adapted from British Intelligence Officer Norman Lewis’s memoir. Lewis entered war-torn Naples with the American Fifth Army in 1943 at the end of WWII observing the complex social cauldron of a city that contrived every day the most incredible ways of fighting to survive. This is a powerful condemnation of the horrors of war.

Giuseppe Piccioni’s THESE DAYS (QUESTI GIORNI), follows four young women on a road trip to Belgrade in an adventure which will mark a turning point in their lives. Featuring Margherita Buy (Me, Myself & Her LIFF ‘16) alongside Filippo Timi (Vincere LIFF ‘09) and Sergio Rubini (Mafia & Red Tomatoes LIFF ‘15).

In SUMMERTIME (L'ESTATE ADDOSSO) by director Gabriele Muccino (The Pursuit of Happyness), a gay couple living in San Francisco take in two teens traveling from Italy to start a new life in America. The four become fast friends and embark on enthusiastic explorations of love, life, and themselves, trying to discover and define who they are during a summer they’ll never forget.

Director Lisa Azuelos confirms her status as a strong director of actors, with Italian model-turned-actress Sveva Alviti, stealing the show in every scene of DALIDA. Based on the true story of acclaimed music icon “Dalida” who gained celebrity in the 50s, singing in Italian, French, Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew and German - she had a repertoire of hits as vast and varied as her private life was tumultuous and tragic. Also starring Italian heartthrob Riccardo Scamarcio (Wondrous Boccaccio LIFF ‘15) as her brother Orlando.

Available for school bookings is FROM NAPLES WITH LOVE (TROPPO NAPOLETANO) a joyous romantic comedy about Ciro, an 11-year old kid who falls head-over-heels for a new girl at school and loses his once healthy appetite causing his panicked mother Barbara (singer Serena Rossi) to take him to a child psychologist!

The Lavazza Italian Film Festival presented by Palace screens in the following locations:
Sydney: Sept 12- Oct 8, Palace Norton Street, Palace Verona, Chauvel Cinemas
Melbourne: Sept 14 to Oct 8, Palace Cinema Como, Palace Westgarth, Palace Balwyn, Palace Brighton Bay, Kino Cinemas, The Astor Theatre
Canberra: Sept 14 to Oct 8, Palace Electric Cinemas
Brisbane: Sept 20 to Oct 8, Palace Barracks and Palace Centro
Adelaide: Sept 13 to Oct 1, Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas
Perth: Sept 21 to Oct 11, Cinema Paradiso, Luna on SX
Hobart: Sept 21 to Oct 1, The State Cinema

The full program will be announced in August.

For more information visit here


**Update as at August 11, 2017**


Palace is thrilled to announce that this year, for the first time, it will present a competition section as part of the 18th edition of the Lavazza Italian Film Festival with six outstanding Italian films in official competition for the Bulgari Critics’ Choice Award.

Palace have gathered esteemed members to take part on the jury – from film critics, actors and an international director – the jury all have its lust for Italian cinema in common.

An official award ceremony will be held on September 20 where the winner of the AUD $10,000 Bulgari Cinema Award for best film will be announced.

“Presented by Palace, the Lavazza Italian Film Festival is proud to celebrate excellence in Italian contemporary cinema with the inaugural Bulgari Critics’ Choice Awards. This cements the festival’s place on the world film festival landscape,” said Founder and Managing Director of Palace Cinemas and Palace Films, Antonio Zeccola.

“Bulgari has always been a strong supporter of creativity and passion and there is no better medium to express these attributes than through cinema,” said Bulgari Australia Managing Director Brad Harvey. “We are delighted to express this passion in Australia via the creation of the Bulgari Critics’ Choice Award, a first for Bulgari internationally, to encourage the creative art of story-telling always told best in the Italian way.”

The 2017 jury members are:

Greta Scacchi – Italian born Australian actress, has appeared in many films including Presumed Innocent (1990), White Mischief (1987), Looking for Alibrandi (2000) and The Player (1992)

Jason di Rosso - RN’s film critic and host of the weekly film show The Final Cut

Ruth Borgobello - director and 2016 festival guest for her film The Space Between

Daniela Farinacci – with acting roles in film and television including Lion (2016), Lantana (2001), and ABC TV series Glitch (2016 -)

Damian Walshe-Howling – with a 25 year acting career in film and television with credits including: The Secret Life of Us (2001-2006), Blue Heelers (1994 – 2006) and Mystery Road (2013)

Brad Harvey - Bulgari Australia Managing Director. With a career spanning 20 years in luxury jewellery, Brad brings an eye for creativity and detail as well as a passion for Italian design and cinema.

The Lavazza Italian Film Festival presented by Palace is a true celebration of Italian language, culture, cuisine and film. The festival was founded in 2000 by Antonio Zeccola. Since then, it has continued to grow every year, being enthusiastically embraced by audiences to become the largest Italian film festival in the world outside of Italy.

For more information, visit