Italian-made cinema in Israel

The second annual Cinema Italian Film Festival begins this week with a lineup of films ranging from classics and comedies to documentaries.

April 14, 2015 11:49
3 minute read.
italian film israel

THE STORY of the Sicilian Mafia is told in the crime comedy ‘The Mafia Kills Only in Summer'. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Italian movies have always been among the finest in the world, and this heritage, as well as the finest in contemporary Italian cinema, will be celebrated at Cinema Italia, a festival of Italian films in Israel. It just opened at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque and opens today at the Jerusalem Cinematheque, and in the coming weeks at the Haifa, Holon and Herzliya Cinematheques.

The festival will feature some of the greatest movies in history. All movie lovers will want to see Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (1960) as it was meant to be seen, on the big screen. This film features Marcello Mastroianni’s most iconic performance, as a cynical tabloid journalist in Rome. The film skewers the celebrity culture of its day, and shows that the issues of alienation and loss of faith people confront today are nothing new. The sequence with Anita Ekberg as a Hollywood star holding a kitten and, later, wading through the Fontana di Trevi are among the best-loved movie moments of all time.

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There are no fewer than five movies by Vittorio de Sica, one of the pioneers of Neorealism. The Bicycle Thieves (1948), de Sica’s deceptively simple masterpiece, will be shown, as will Umberto D., his 1952 portrait of an elderly man struggling to get by in postwar Rome. His 1951 Miracle in Milan is an allegory about poverty and injustice. Two of his later films, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (1963) and Marriage, Italian Style (1964), star Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren, and, once again, this is a rare opportunity to see these unbelievably gorgeous stars, larger than life.

Edoardo Winspeare’s topical drama Quiet Bliss is about three generations of an Italian family whose company goes bankrupt and who are forced to move back to their ancestral home in a small coastal town, which turns out to be a blessing in disguise.

Black Souls, directed by Francesco Munzi, tells the story of three brothers, sons of a shepherd, who become involved in the Calabrian Mafia. It won four prizes at the past Venice International Film Festival.

Emma Dante’s A Street in Palermo has been described as a kind of Italian Thelma & Louise. It tells the story of two women who head off on a road trip in Palermo and meet a free-spirited woman who takes them in a new direction. It stars the director, Elena Cotta, and Alba Rohrwacher (who attended the Haifa Film Festival in 2014 to promote the film Hungry Hearts). Cotta won the Best Actress award at the Venice International Film Festival for her performance.

There are also several comedies on the program. Among these is A Lonely Hero (L’intrepido), about a divorced man who gets by doing odd jobs but maintains a positive outlook. When he meets a pessimistic young woman, he takes on the challenge of brightening her life.

The movie has won a number of awards in Italy, including several for its leading man, Antonio Albanese.

Paolo Zucco’s The Referee is a darkly comic look at a losing soccer team in Sardinia that turns its fortunes around, and an ambitious referee who dreams of working in the country’s top league.

The just-released crime comedy The Mafia Kills Only in Summer, directed by Pierfrancesco Diliberto (also known as Pif), won the Best Comedy award at the European Film Awards. It tells the story of the Sicilian Mafia from the ‘70s to the ‘90s, and focuses on one young man and his attempts to win the woman of his dreams.

Elisa Amoruso’s Off Road is a documentary about a mechanic and race-car driver who has a sex-change operation, then falls in love with his mother’s nurse.

Cinema Italia is sponsored by the Italian Cultural Institute of Tel Aviv, the Tel Aviv municipality’s Culture Department, Istituto Luce Cinecittà Filmitalia, and Cineteca di Bologna.

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