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VIEWERS ENJOY a screening during the Cinema Italia, 2018 at the Cinemateque Tel Aviv.(Photo by: RONNY FELLUS)
Cinema Italia’s yearly feast
Besides movies with Anna Magnani, Cinema Italia decided to dedicate the special screening to Bernardo Bertolucci, one of the most representative and internationally known Italian directors.
For the sixth year, devotees of Italian cinema are awaiting the Cinema Italia festival, which begins around the country on April 4.
Sixteen films will be screened at cinematheques all over Israel: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Rosh Pina, Holon, Herzliya and Sderot.

As in previous years, Cinema Italia is divided into two sections: Contemporary Cinema and Classic Cinema. This year, the Classic section of the festival pays a tribute to one of the greatest world actresses and the symbol of Italian cinema, Anna Magnani. We will see her in real: Campo de ‘fiori, directed by Mario Bonnard (1943); Vulcano by William Dieterle (1950); Bellissima by Luchino Visconti (1951); Laughter of Joy by Mario Monicelli (1960) and Mamma Roma directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini (1962). For the younger audience, those movies will be an opportunity to learn the pearls of the Italian cinematography that influenced decades of cinema, not only in Italy.

“For those who saw them many years ago, it is a chance to watch them again, often in better technically digitalized versions,” says Ronny Fellus, one of two (next to Dan Angelo Muggia) artistic directors of the Cinema Italia. “Those movies, even if they were seen once, never get old.”

Besides movies with Anna Magnani, Cinema Italia decided to dedicate the special screening to Bernardo Bertolucci, one of the most representative and internationally known Italian directors, who passed away in November last year.

“We will show his film The Conformist (1970), based on the novel of the same name by Alberto Moravia,” says Fellus.

In the Contemporary section of the festival, the public will see the 10 best productions of 2018, including two very important documentaries: 1938 Diversi, written and directed by Giorgio Treves on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the proclamation of the racial laws in Italy.

“Not in Germany, in Italy,” underlines Fellus, “laws of segregating and discriminating Jews. A very shameful chapter of Italian history.” The sea of our history, written and directed by Giovanna Gagliardo, is about Italians and Jews in Libya. “But during this year’s festival, there will be all the genres,” promises Fellus, “we will show also thrillers, movies about love and adolescent conflicts, dramas, sport and comedies.”

Fellus, who is also the founder and the director of the Italian comedy festival in Israel, “Finita La Comedia” (which runs September to November each year), finds his mission to show also modern comedy movies to the Israeli audience. In his opinion, Israelis love Italian comedies, but the popularity stopped in the 1970s and until last few years, Israelis did not realize that new, contemporary Italian comedies are still produced and that some of them are very successful.

“A great example of it is the film Perfect Strangers (2016) by Paolo Genovese, it was in cinema theaters for over a year in many countries,” he says. The director Genovese came to the Cinema Italia festival last year as a guest, promoting his next film The Place.

The public attendees of the festival are mostly Israeli born but the festival plays also a very important role to the Italian community here. Valeria Blatt, an olah hadasha from Padua (Padova), Italy, told me: “Israel is my home now, but my Italian roots are a very important part of me, too. This festival makes me feel at home – in a double way.”

As during any festival, an important part for the audience is also the Q&A section following the screenings. This year, the public will have a chance to meet, among others, Margherita Ferri the director of The Ice Rift, actor of La terra dell’abbastanza Matteo Olivetti, the producer of 1938–Diversi Carolina Levi and Stefano Mordini, who was guest of the festival two years ago and who fell in love with Tel Aviv. His newest thriller, Il testimone invisibile, will open the festival this year.

Fellus, who was already was doing the Israeli Film Festival in Rome for few years, came up with the idea of an Italian movie festival in Israel in 2013, during Doc Aviv in Tel Aviv. He was choosing films for his festival in Italy when he saw an advertisement of the Irish film festival in Israel. And it was an instant reaction: “Something is missing! With all the respect to Irish cinematography, or Polish, French or African, Italian films deserved a festival in Israel.”

Not waiting too long, he reached out to the Italian Embassy and to his partner in crime, Dan Angelo Muggia, co-director of the Israeli Film Festival in Italy and presently of the Cinema Italia in Israel. In cooperation with the Italian Cultural Institutes of Tel Aviv and Haifa and Filmitalia-Cinecittà Luce, the cinematheques, Fellus and Muggia have created Cinema Italia – a festival that became a great success from its first edition.
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