Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Lavazza Perth Italian Film Festival 2011

Hot on the heels of the recent Russian Resurrection announcement comes October's offering in the Australian minority film festival stakes. Sponsored by a coffee company that I am not that enamoured with The Italian Film Festival hits Perth 13th - 26th October.

If you head to their website you will be greeted by a Benvenuti page that uses way too many exclamation marks. Do people not understand the power of the exclamation mark?! Ha. And be told about the "highlights" which include an Italian film starring Robert De Niro and Monica Belucci, The Ages of Love, which I can safely say I have no interest in seeing. De Niro should be taking a long hard look at his recent career trajectory, he could've been someone, he could've been a contender, instead we get a constant stream of nothing movies that are only worth seeing because a once great man is acting in them. Perhaps that's a little harsh. The other major highlight is a film called Basilicata Coast to Coast which is advertised as featuring a 3 minute introduction by the Basilicata tourism office narrated by another former great of American cinema Francis Ford Coppola.

I'll be quite blunt about this festival, it all seems a bit bland. The large majority of films seem aimed at a middle aged, middle class audience who enjoy average genre films and I was hard pushed to find much to excite me in to buying tickets. If this is the state of contemporary Italian cinema then I think their industry needs an injection of new ideas from its youth. There's a chance that it was merely curated by somebody who is middle aged, middle class and enjoys average genre films however.

From the 31 new films selected for the festival I can raise a meagre amount of hope for the following films:

Gorbaciof AKA Gorbachev

A crime film with a lead character who doesn't speak much and an unlikely romance with someone who doesn't speak the same language. It sounds familiar in theme but it screened at TIFF and Venice and looks/sounds worth a watch.

Lost Kisses AKA I Baci Mai Dati

A dramedy about a young girl who claims the Madonna appears to her in a dream and her family who try to cash in on her sudden fame. With satire in a foreign language you're always taking a chance that you'll have no idea what they're satirising but this one sounds fun and the blurb compared it to early Almodovar with its use of colour, drab realism and sardonic humour. Played at Sundance and Venice also.

A Quiet Life AKA Una Vita Tranquila

A slow-burn sophisticated crime film focusing more on character than action; sounds like something I might enjoy. Interestingly this one also stars the same guy who plays Gorbaciof, Toni Servillo.

School is Over AKA La Scuola E Finita

A gritty drama set in an Italian high school, centering on a bored student and the warring divorced pair of teachers who both try to 'save' him from himself for their own interests. Apparently it mixes a realism/documentary style of film making (I hope that doesn't just mean handheld shaky camerawork) with naturalistic acting performances to great dramatic effect.

A measly 4 films from 31 means at least I won't be making myself poor in October and work won't be inconvenienced too much by my requests for days off. There is a Dario Argento retrospective which is quite cool of them but I've not exactly been taken by his work in the past so will also be skipping those sessions.

Anyone heard anything good about some of the films in the program? Drop me some blah with your recommendations.


  1. How very posh. You are properly spoilt for things like this in Perth.

    Was it last year that you had to put up with noisy old Italians talking through the films? Or am I confused?


  2. I wish they were a bit more cutting edge or artsy though scott. And yeah it was this event last year that brought talking old italians to my eardrums whilst watching bicycle thief.

    I remember there being a mexican festival last year too. Hopefully that is not in november. Too much world cinema!

  3. Wow that's pretty cool. There's nothing like this in Finland!

    For some reason I haven't really watched that many Italian films .. I've seen loads of French and Spanish ones, but no ITALIA DAMBADAMBADAM .. do you think they're all funded by Berlusconi? Do they all have underaged prostitues in them?

  4. i'm glad you guys thinks so, to me its a bit of a disappointment!

    i cant think of many films from italy that i've seen either anna. aside from the italian neorealist stuff. from what ive heard ossessione is the best film version of the postman always rings twice. perhaps italian movies really are just boring and it's not just the programming of this festival?

    as for :D although underaged prostitutes might cause the box office to skyrocket in italy if nowhere else.

  5. Hey man. Solid choices. I had a browse through the brochure and found a few that interested me, but I agree, it does seem like a weak lineup. So, I'm seeing A Quiet Life tonight, and then I guess I'll see what screeners I get sent. Perhaps there'll be some surprises. I won't get to see many once the Festival starts, because I'll be working most days. Leichhardt is the Italian centre of Sydney, so the Norton St. Palace will get killed most nights. Look forward to your coverage, my friend!

  6. Andy - damn, I just assumed you were there for pleasure. I hope it really is as busy as you expect, anything that will support smaller cinemas is a great thing. Do you get many screeners?

  7. I have been attending Festivals for pleasure in the past. This time, I got an invite to the Media Launch. It was quite a surprise. I'm not sure how many I will get. Waiting for them in the mail at the present haha. Yeah, our cinema survives (i imagine) from the Festivals we host. We have 6-7 a year!

  8. so this is your first batch of screeners? exciting! i think our Luna cinemas here are part of the Palace group perhaps or at least the WA equivalent as they're the choice for all the festivals we get. i can think of 4 in the past year but i wsn't always paying attention.

  9. Yep! It is, indeed! Luna Cinemas I haven't heard of, but I imagine they are the equivalent!