The Italian Film Festival is a travelling festival that this year will visit seven cities throughout Australia. Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to the media preview of the festival at Palace Electric Cinemas here in Canberra. Please note that awesome limoncello cocktails were served as part of the event and all statements that follow were influenced by that tastiness.
Travelling film festivals are a growing feature of the Australian cinema industry and this particular one has been doing its thing for 14 years now. The high profile of the Italian Film Festival is proven by the fact that basically all of the films on the extensive 27 film program are Australian Premieres. This is even more impressive considering the festival arrives on the calendar soon after the two heavyweight international film festivals in this country – Sydney and Melbourne.
As part of the preview, we were shown Honey dir by Valeria Golino. The film follows Irene an ‘angel of mercy’ who assists terminally ill people end their life. Jasmine Trinca is excellent in the main role, bringing to life the journey of a young woman who increasingly struggles with what it is she does. Along the way, she meets Carlo who accompanies her through much of the change she undergoes. Indeed it is the fact that Carlo is not terminally ill even though he is attempting to end his life that triggers much of the action and revelation of the film. I though Honey was a really interesting film, managing to avoid cliché where many a film would have succumbed. A fantastic soundtrack and central performance from Trinca did not hurt. The film also has an interesting attitude toward death, and therefore life, that informs everything that takes place.
In addition to Honey here are five more films to whet your appetite of what the festival has to offer. I will definitely be trying to get along to as many of these as I can during the Canberra leg of the festival.
- Roma dir by Federico Fellini – I’ve heard a lot about Fellini’s ode to Rome, but have never been lucky enough to see it. Now, as the closing night film of the festival, I will have the chance to see it on the big screen. Made in 1972, the film is episodic, covering a period of 40 years. Anything Fellini is worth seeing, especially on the big screen.
- A Five Star Life dir by Maria Sole Tognazzi – The film follows Irene, a hotel critic who travels the world living it up in luxury. This blissful, globe-trotting life begins to become a little more complicated though when personal troubles begin to impinge on her happy ignorance.
- A Perfect Family dir by Paolo Genovese – Christmas can definitely be the loneliest time of year. Leone knows this, which is why in an attempt to alleviate this he hires professional actors to play his family over the festive season. So basically, hopefully this will be like We’re the Millers… only not terrible in every single way.
- The Human Cargo dir by Daniele Vicari – This is one of those documentaries that makes you wonder how in the world you have never heard this story before (well at least I hadn’t). The film focuses on the 1991 events where 20,000 people stowed away on board a sugar cargo ship that docked in Italy. A truly incredible tale. Especially when in this country a boat rocking up to our shore with 50 people on board is front page news.
- There Will Come a Day dir by Giorgio Diritti – This is another film that stars Jasmine Trinca, along with Honey. In this film she plays August who leaves home and ventures to Brazil. Here she goes on a journey that is both physical and spiritual. Ending up perhaps not exactly where her mother would have liked.
Thanks to the Italian Film Festival I have a two double passes to give away. The passes are able to be used for a vast majority of the sessions, the only exceptions being a couple of special events. They are valid for any of the cities that the festival visits as it tours around Palace Cinemas all over the country. Check out the website www.italianfilmfestival.com.au to see where the festival is travelling and when. If you live in Australia and what to be put in the draw, then comment below and let me know. Entries will remain open til 5pm on Monday 30 September. I will chuck them in the post the next day and should reach you by the time the festival kicks off.