Italian Film Festival returns to Israel

The festival is a collaboration between the Italian cultural institutes of Tel Aviv and Haifa, Filmitalia, and Cinecittà in Italy.

 ‘THE SHADOW of a Day.’ (photo credit: Cinecitta)
‘THE SHADOW of a Day.’
(photo credit: Cinecitta)

The 10th Italian Film Festival in Israel will delight audiences like a rich cup of espresso and some flavorful biscotti, when it arrives at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque on April 19. It will also be shown in the cinematheques in Jerusalem, Haifa, Holon, Herzliya and Sderot.

The festival, which showcases the best contemporary films and also highlights classics, will focus on three great artists whose names are synonymous with Italian cinema around the world and who were particularly well known for their work in the spaghetti western genre: directors/writers Sergio Leone and Sergio Carbucci and legendary composer Ennio Morricone, many of whose tunes you can probably hum even if you do not recognize his name.

Director Francesco Zippel will attend the festival to present his documentary about Leone, Sergio Leone: The Italian Who Invented America, which features interviews with Leone, as well as with actors and filmmakers who worked with him and were influenced by him, among them Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg and Dario Argento. Leone’s iconic film The Good, the Bad and the Ugly will also be screened at the festival.

What else is being shown at the Italian Film Festival?

Giuseppe Tornatore, who made the beloved film Cinema Paradiso, has made a new documentary, Ennio, about Morricone, which will be shown, as will Gillo Pontecorvo’s classic 1966 film, The Battle of Algiers. It has influenced generations of directors and was scored by Morricone.

Luca Rea’s documentary Django & Django, about Corbucci, is a look at how Corbucci’s 1966 western Django influenced Quentin Tarantino and helped inspire his movie Django Unchained. Corbucci’s 1968 western The Great Silence, starring Jean-Louis Trintignant and Klaus Kinski, will be shown at the festival.

 ‘SERGIO LEONE: The Italian Who Invented America.’ (credit: Cinecitta) ‘SERGIO LEONE: The Italian Who Invented America.’ (credit: Cinecitta)

Director Giuseppe Piccioni will be a guest of the festival and will attend the opening-night screening of his film The Shadow of the Day. Set against the backdrop of fascist Italy and the 1938 racial laws there, which mainly discriminated against Jews, the movie tells the story of a restaurant owner (Riccardo Scamarcio, one of Italy’s most acclaimed actors) who is sympathetic to the racist laws, until getting to know a young Jewish waitress (Benedetta Porcaroli).

Lyda Patitucci, the director of Like Sheep Among Wolves, a gritty police drama about a female detective who is torn between work and family, will also be present at screenings of her film.

Paolo Taviani’s Leonora Addio, his first film since the death of his brother and collaborator, Vittorio, in 2018, will be shown at the festival. The movie is an homage to Vittorio, and it is about the great writer Luigi Pirandello, whose work the Taviani brothers dramatized in their movie Kaos. In Leonora Addio, part of the film is about Pirandello’s wish for his ashes to be transported to Sicily, his birthplace, but during the Mussolini years his remains were interred in Rome and were only brought to Sicily through a complex series of events. The second part of the film is an adaptation of Pirandello’s final story, The Nail. Kaos, the 1984 adaptation of four Pirandello stories set among Sicilian peasants, will also be screened.

Roberto Ando’s Strangeness also focuses on Pirandello and tells the story of how the playwright had a chance encounter with two gravediggers who were amateur actors when he was on his way to the funeral of his beloved governess, which helped spark a creative breakthrough.

Mario Martone’s Nostalgia is a stylish crime thriller about a man who returns to his native Naples, which he left as a teenager, to see his dying mother, and is pulled back into the crime at the heart of the city.

Dry, Paolo Virzi’s movie about how a drought caused by climate change has affected Rome, stars Monica Bellucci and takes a complex problem much in the news and uses it to tell an engaging story.

Benedetta Porcaroli, the star of The Shadow of the Day, the opening-night movie, also plays the lead in Amanda, a movie by Carolina Cavalli, about a socially awkward young woman trying to reconnect with a childhood friend.

The Eight Mountains was the winner of the Cannes Jury Prize and tells the story of an enduring friendship between two children who grow up together in a remote mountain village.

Gianni Di Gregorio’s Ciao Roma is about Astolfo, a retired professor evicted from his apartment, who decides to move into an old family mansion in the remote village of Abruzzo, where he hasn’t lived for decades. Soon he invites some workmen in the neighborhood to live there and finds himself falling in love with a neighbor. Di Gregorio, who is a well-known actor, stars in the film with Stefania Sandrelli, who appeared in the classic films Divorce Italian Style and The Conformist.

Gianni Amelio’s Lord of the Ants is a fact-based drama about a playwright persecuted for his homosexuality in the 1960s.

The artistic directors of the festival are Roni Fellus and Dan Angelo Muggia, who founded the festival. The festival is a collaboration between the Italian cultural institutes of Tel Aviv and Haifa, Filmitalia, and Cinecittà in Italy. To see the full program and order tickets, go to