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The 19th edition of the Italian Film Festival, the largest (by some distance) of the national and cultural festivals taking their places on the calendar reveals its 2014 menu.

The festival kicks off in Auckland late September, offering up 18 titles for its tour. Most of the programme lies firmly in the mainstream drama-comedy genre spectrum. Indeed, the Italians are one of few filmmaking nations not to have celebrated genre films by turning out at least one zombie flick in the last year.

Among the outliers beyond the drama-comedy continuum in this year’s IFF is Riccardo Milani’s two-part biopic Volare: The Story of Domenico Modugno, screened as a TV mini-series in Italy. Older readers will recall the 1958 song which has been covered over the years by Louis Armstrong, Andrea Bocelli, David Bowie, Dean Martin, Luciano Pavarotti, Frank Sinatra, and – because you can’t get enough love – Barry White. Among others.

To get you in the mood, here’s a rather uptempo version by the Gipsy Kings.

Also out there are trio of thrillers. Edoardo Gabbriellini’s The Landlords is a comedy-thriller. Davide Marengo’s The Lithium Conspiracy is more down the line. Fabio Grassadonia & Antonio Piazza’s Salvo, one of two titles in the programme arriving (if not quickly) with Cannes gongs. Salvo took the Critics Week Grand Prize & France 4 Visionary Award at the 2013 festival.



For lighter relief – and generally an awards-free section of any festival programme – there are six or seven comedies on offer, depending on where you draw the line.

Fausto Brizzi’s Women Drive Me Crazy, Massimiliano Bruno’s Viva Italy and Alessandro Genovesi’s based-on-a-UK-TV-show The Worst Week of My Life are the “pure” comedies.

The Worst Week of My Life

The Worst Week of My Life

Alessandro Siani’s romcom The Unlikely Prince and a pair of dramedies, Paolo Genovese’s A Perfect Family and Roberto Andò’s Long Live Freedom round out the half-dozen. Andò’s film does break the award-free streak, having collected the Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor gongs at last year’s Italian Oscars, the David di Donatello awards. The film was nominated for a further 10 awards at the event.

There’s a crop of romantic dramas: Francesco Amato’s winner at Rome’s 2012 IFF, Cosimo and Nicole, Francesca Comencini’s A Special Day and Paolo Virzì’s Every Blessed Day which took last year’s David di Donatello award for Best Song.

Rounding out that section is Maria Sole Tognazzi’s A Five Star Life, starring Margherita Buy, who won the 2013 David di Donatello Best Actress for her performance. Buy also features in Giuseppe Piccioni’s drama The Red and the Blue.

A Five Star Life

Margherita Buy in A Five Star Life

Valerio Mastandrea won last year’s David di Donatello Best Actor gong with his turn in Ivano De Matteo’s drama Balancing Act. Last, but by no means etc., is Valeria Golino’s drama Honey, the second Cannes winner (Prize of the Ecumenical Jury), a double David di Donatello winner for Best Actress and Best First Feature. And, the only film in the programme with an English-subtitled trailer.

The 19th Italian Film Festival will screen in Auckland at Rialto Cinemas 24 September – 12 October and Berkeley Takapuna 25 September – 12 October; in Dunedin at Rialto Cinemas 8 – 22 October; in Wellington at the Embassy Theatre 9 – 26 October; and in Christcurch at Hollywood Cinemas 16 – 29 October.

Check out Nelson’s Suter Theatre, Hawke’s Bay’s MTG and Hamilton’s Lido for festival screenings in those locations.

As ever, all films will screen in Italian with English subtitles.

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