Molto buono

Cinema Italia opens April 1 at cinematheques around the country.

‘Italian Race’ (photo credit: PR)
‘Italian Race’
(photo credit: PR)
Italy has long had the one of the most magnificent film industries in the world, and in recent years it has been especially strong.
Cinema Italia, the Italian film festival in Israel, returns for the fourth time, to the cinematheques in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Holon, Rosh Pina and Sderot, starting April 1.
The festival features 14 movies, including the best of recent Italian cinema and some classics, plus a tribute to Roberto Rossellini.
Among the festival’s special guests will be Matteo Rovere, director of the opening film, Italian Race. The film is a sports drama about a troubled young woman who races cars.
Stefano Mordini, director of Pericle (aka Pericles the Black), will also attend the festival. The movie tells the story of a mobster who changes his ways after he meets a woman. Monica Moscato, an official representative of Istituto Luce Cinecittà, will also take part in the festival.
The festival will include the Oscar-nominated documentary Fire at Sea, directed by Gianfranco Rosi. The film is an extraordinary look at the island of Lampedusa, off the coast of Sicily, with a population of just a few thousand, which has been the first stop in Europe for about half a million migrants setting sail from Libya.
The film, which won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, examines how the migrants have influenced the island, mostly through a look at the life of the family of one of the fishermen. There are also interviews with a doctor who treats the migrants and describes what condition they are in when they step off the boat. This film says more, and in a far more memorable way, than the countless news reports about the migrant phenomenon.
Irene Dionisio, who is known for several documentaries she has made, directed the feature film Pawn Street, a look at the stories of three pawn shop customers whose lives intertwine.
Fiore, by Claudio Giovannesi, focuses on the longing for love among young offenders behind the walls of a correctional facility.
Indivisible, directed by Edoardo De Angelis, follows the story of Siamese twins who are popular singers on the outskirts of a city in the south of Italy.
One of the biggest hits in Italy in recent years has been Gennaro Nunziante’s Quo Vado, a comedy about a bureaucrat.
The Rossellini retrospective features five of his films, and I would urge anyone who has not seen the director’s work on the big screen to take advantage of this opportunity.
Rossellini’s Rome, Open City is one of the most famous films by the Italian neorealists. Made in 1945, it tells the story of a resistance leader pursued by the Nazis during the German occupation of Italy, and it’s one of the most moving films ever.
Rossellini’s Paison, an omnibus film of different stories about the Allied invasion of Italy from 1943-1944, is impressively done but has dated more than Rome, Open City.
In Germany, Year Zero, Rossellini looks at the life of a German boy a year after the end of the war and his fight for survival.
The festival also includes two of the movies Rossellini made with his wife, Ingrid Bergman – Stromboli and Journey to Italy. Journey to Italy is mostly in English and stars Bergman and George Sanders as an unhappily married couple vacationing in Italy, not a typical Rossellini film.
The tagline on Stromboli — “Raging Island... Raging Passions!” — was particularly apt, since this was the film on which Rossellini and Bergman fell in love. It tells the story of a woman from the Balkans who marries an Italian fisherman and goes to his village to escape a prison camp.
Kaos, a 1978 film by the Taviani brothers, is based on five stories by Luigi Pirandello about Sicilian peasants. It is being shown to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Pirandello’s birth.
Cinema Italia was organized by Ronny Fellus and Danny Moggia and is a collaboration among ADAMAS Italia-Israel and the Italian Cultural Institute in Tel Aviv (IIC), Italian Cultural Institute in Haifa, Istituto Luce Cinecittà, the Municipality of Tel Aviv-Yafo, the Municipality of Haifa, the cinematheques and the Italian Embassy.