Film

Documentary illuminates Sardinian supper for the dead

A few years ago, we featured a unique collection of videos available on Vimeo that showcase the heritage of Sardinia. Accessible through the Ethnographic Institute of Sardinia’s on-demand platform, “ISRECINEMA,” the collection been updated since then. The collection includes photo essays, documentaries, short works and animated films. The platform contains the institute’s earliest works from the late 1970s as well as the most recent productions, all of which were filmed on the island of Sardinia. Some works have achieved significant acclaim, such as Paolo Zucca’s “The Referee,” which earned the David di Donatello Award for Best Short Film. One compelling …

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Antique organ lives on at Rochester University gallery

North America’s only full-size, fully functional antique Italian organ is located at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, New York. Built in central Italy in the mid-18th century, this remarkable organ was discovered in Florence around 1980 by a German craftsman who specialized in restoring musical instruments. It was almost taken apart and sold as pieces of home furnishings. Fortunately, the renowned Eastman School of Music, which is part of the University of Rochester, acquired the organ and restored it to its former glory. In 2005, it was installed in the Memorial Art Gallery’s Fountain Court. Featuring 600 pipes and …

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Documentary showcases gifted Sicilian photographers

A visual love letter to the culture and landscape of Sicily, Sergio Gianfalla’s documentary “Sicily in Photographs” features images captured by a few of the island’s most renowned photographers, including Angelo Pitrone, Melania Messina and Mauro D’Agati, plus the stories behind them. The film begins with the photographers talking about what first sparked their interest in the craft and then what fueled their passion to master it. We are then taken through the Sicilian countryside for a firsthand look at the natural landscape that has captured their imaginations through the years. “The calling of the lens around here has been …

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Pasolini’s playground among the Roman ruins

Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1962 “Mamma Roma” stars Anna Magnani as the title character, a Roman prostitute determined to change her life and give her son the opportunities she never had. She seizes the opportunity to leave her life on the streets behind when her pimp (Franco Citti) gets married and frees her from his control. Mamma then goes to the small provincial town of Guidonia to fetch her son, Ettore (Ettore Garofolo), and bring him to Rome to embark on their new life together. She buys a pushcart, finds an apartment in a nice neighborhood, and uses her connections to …

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MoMA to host expansive Morricone retrospective

The Museum of Modern Art in New York hosted a retrospective spanning the nearly 60-year career of composer Ennio Morricone. The film series took place in December and January and featured more than 35 films with 17 new digital restorations plus 35mm archival prints. “This Ennio Morricone retrospective is the largest MoMA has ever devoted to a movie composer,” said Joshua Siegel, curator of the Department of Film at MoMA. Among the films screened were classics like Giuseppe Tornatore’s “Cinema Paradiso,” Sergio Leone’s “A Fistful of Dollars,” and “Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight.” One archival treasure in the lineup was …

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Film sheds a shocking light on Naples’ plight during WWII

Francesco Patierno’s 2016 documentary “Naples ’44” was adapted from the book of the same name by Norman Lewis, a British intelligence officer stationed there during World War II. It is narrated by British film and TV star Benedict Cumberbatch. The documentary is a strong dose of reality that intermixes archival footage, old cinema clips, dramatizations and the recollections of an officer who witnessed unfathomable atrocities. Patierno’s film is informative, riveting, and at times shocking. “The inspiration to make this film came from my father,” Patierno said in a 2018 interview with Fra Noi. “One day, he told me about how …

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Bellocchio, Rohrwacher, Benigni light up New York fest

This year’s edition of the New York Film Festival had a strong Italian flavor. The festival opened with Jim Jarmusch’s 1986 cult classic, “Down by Law,” which features a young and captivating Roberto Benigni, and closed with the North American premiere of Michael Mann’s “Ferrari,” starring Adam Driver, which tells the story of auto giant Enzo Ferrari’s legendary 1000-mile race across Italy, the Mille Miglia. In between, there were icons of Italian cinema and filmmakers from the new generation, and the screenings were packed. Marco Bellocchio presented his latest film, “Kidnapped” (Rapito), which is based on a true story. Adapted …

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Cavani receives Lifetime Achievement award in Venice

Organizers of the 80th edition of the Venice Film Festival, which ran Aug. 30-Sept. 9, recognized a number of legendary artists. Tributes included a film retrospective dedicated to Gina Lollobrigida, who passed away in January. One very special recognition went to director Liliana Cavani, who was awarded a Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement. Now 90 years old, Cavani was there to receive her award and later presented her new film, “L’ordine del tempo,” which premiered out of competition. Actress Charlotte Rampling, who starred in Cavani’s 1974 devastating Holocaust drama, “Il portiere di notte” (The Night Porter), presented Cavani with the …

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Verduci’s music video a love letter to Calabria

In 2019, we talked with Calabrese actor Fortunato Verduci about his role in the FX series “Trust,” his passion for the Calabrese culture, and keeping alive the region’s traditions of music and dance. He was later featured in the April 2020 issue. Now, Verduci has a new project; an enchanting music video celebrating the land he loves so much. The video is set in the Castello di Santo Niceto, an 11th-century Byzantine castle nestled on a hilltop in Motta San Giovanni in the province of Reggio Calabria. In this haunting setting, Verduci and model Maryame Jafire act out a tale …

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1950s docudrama reenacts post WWII workplace tragedy

A tragic story based on true events, Giuseppe De Santis’ 1952 “Roma ore 11” (Rome 11:00) follows several young women in post-WWII Rome as they answer a single job listing for a typist. When 200 women are in line on one staircase spanning several floors, a crack leads to the collapse of the entire staircase. Dozens were injured, and one person was killed. The tragedy spoke to the poverty and desperation of so many Italians in the early 1950s before the ’58 industrial boom began. The prolific screenwriter Cesare Zavattini contributed to the script, which was based on testimonials. Filmmaker …

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