Italian Embassy to screen 6 contemporary Italian films in October

A Potpourri of Vestiges Feature

Murtaza Ali Khan 

In its continuing effort to boost the cultural ties between India and Italy, the Embassy of Italy is hosting the first ever Italian Film Festival in collaboration with ANICA (Italian Film Commission). The screenings will take place simultaneously in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru from October 12-15, 2022. The festival comprises 6 films that have been previously presented at the prestigious Davide di Donatello Awards, which were established in 1955 with the aim to honour the best of each year's Italian and foreign films. The film awards are given out each year by the Accademia del Cinema Italiano (The Academy of Italian Cinema).

One of the major highlights of the festival will be noted Italian filmmaker Giuseppe Tornatore’s riveting documentary on the legendary film composer Ennio Morricone. The winner of the Cecilia Mangini Award at the 2022 David di Donatello Awards, ‘The Glance of Music – Ennio’ retraces the life and works of the legendary Italian composer Ennio Morricone: from his debut with Sergio Leone to the Oscar-winning `The Hateful Eight.’ Interestingly, Tornatore and Morricone also collaborated on the 1988 Oscar-winning classic 'Cinema Paradiso,' which remains a very popular film among film lovers in India. India’s pick for the Oscars this year, the Gujarati film ‘Chello Show’ has been compared to ‘Cinema Paradiso’ by several film critics the world over. ‘Ennio’ also sets out to reveal the less well-known side of Morricone, such as his passion for the game of chess or the origin in real life of some of his musical intuitions.

Michelangelo Frammartino’s ‘Il Buco’ (English title: ‘The Hole’) follows the extraordinary adventure of the young members of the Piedmont Speleological Group who, having already explored all the caves of Northern Italy, changed course in August 1961 and went South to explore other caves unknown to man—Europe’s deepest cave in the untouched Calabrian hinterland as the bottom of the Bifurto Abyss, 700 meters below Earth, is reached for the first time.

‘Sulla giostra,’ co-written and directed by Giorgia Cecere, tells the story of an intense but ironic female duel over the fate of a family home, starring Lucia Sardo and Claudia Gerini. The film makes us ask a very basic question. What importance do the places hold in a person’s life where he/she has lived?

Mario Martone’s ‘The King of Laughter’ is essentially a biographical film about the Neapolitan comic theater legend Eduardo Scarpetta, essayed by none other than the legendary Toni Servillo. At the beginning of the twentieth century, in the Naples of the Belle Époque, theaters and cinemas are on the rise. The great comedian Eduardo Scarpetta is the box-office king. Success has made him a very rich man. At the height of his success, Scarpetta allows himself what will prove to be a dangerous gamble. He decides to parody the play ‘The Daughter of Iorio,’ a tragedy by the greatest Italian poet of the time, Gabriele D’Annunzio. Will the gamble pay off or will it prove to be a disaster?

‘A Girl Returned,’ directed by Giuseppe Bonito, is set in the summer of 1975. A thirteen-year-old girl returns to the family she didn't know she belonged to. Suddenly she loses everything from her previous life: a comfortable home and the exclusive affection reserved for an only child, and finds herself in a strange world barely reached by progress, forced to share a small, dark house with her natural parents and five other brothers she had never met before.

Also starring the celebrated Italian actor Toni Servillo, Leonardo Di Costanzo’s ‘The Inner Cage’ is set in an old nineteenth-century jail, which is in the process of being vacated, when bureaucracy comes in the way. Together with a handful of officers, a dozen prisoners are left behind in a suspended bubble where rules get hazy, and new relationships form.

In the month of November, the Italian Embassy Cultural Centre will be hosting a week-long retrospective on Pier Paolo Pasonlini, marking his centenary year, at the India Habitat Centre. The retrospective will be followed by a balet performance which will pay homage to Pasolini as a director, writer, and a poet, combining dance, music, words, and images.

The Embassy of Italy in New Delhi as well as the Italian Cultural Centre, which celebrated its 50th Anniversary in October last year, has been playing in instrumental role in bringing the best of Italian cinema to India. Last year in March, the Embassy organized “Notti Stellate – Italian Cinema Under The Sky”. The three-day event, which was hosted with strict COVID-19 guidelines in place, screened films such as Pasolini’s short documentary film “Notes for a Film on India”, Marco Bellocchio’s 2019 critically acclaimed crime drama film “The Traitor”, Matteo Garrone’s 2015 fantasy film “Tale of Tales”, and a segment of the legendary Italian filmmaker Roberto Rossellini’s 10-part documentary mini-series on India titled “India Through Rossellini’s Eyes” made back in 1959. The visitors were served with pizza and gelato, once again reminding that food and cinema are a perfect pairing, especially when it comes to India and Italy.

A version of this review was first published in The Daily Guardian.

About Author

Murtaza Ali Khan is an award-winning critic and journalist who has been covering art, culture, and entertainment for over 10 years. Khan regularly appears on television as a cultural expert and has conducted hundreds of exclusive / tête-à-tête national and international celebrity interviews for leading Indian publications. He regularly conducts workshops on screenwriting, film appreciation, media studies, and film theory. He is the screenplay and dialogue writer of the short film 'To New India with Love' about Startup India, produced and directed by Tirlok Malik who is an Emmy-nominated Indian-American filmmaker based out of New York. Khan has translated the book 'Hindujas and Bollywood,' about the global journey of over 1200 Hindi films from 1950s to 1980s, into English.

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