Geneva Anderson digs into art

Benvenuto Novembre! New Italian Cinema starts Wednesday, November 13, with a line-up of 14 new films and a spotlight on Neapolitan cinema, through Sunday, at San Francisco’s Landmark Clay Theatre

Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Great Beauty” (La grande bellezza, Italy/France 2013) is the Closing Night film at New Italian Cinema, November 13 – 17, 2013.  Sorrentino, one of Italy’s most influential film director’s, will attend.  Set in Rome, the film has been described as a Technicolor “La Dolce Vita” for the Berlusconi era, allegorically asking what has happened in Italy?  Image: San Francisco Film Society

Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Great Beauty” (La grande bellezza, Italy/France 2013) is the Closing Night film at New Italian Cinema, November 13 – 17, 2013. Sorrentino, one of Italy’s most influential film director’s, will attend. Set in Rome, the film has been described as a Technicolor “La Dolce Vita” for the Berlusconi era, allegorically asking what has happened in Italy? Image: San Francisco Film Society

Celebrating its 17th year, New Italian Cinema (NIC) is the much-loved annual festival of newly-released Italian films which comes to San Francisco every November.  NIC opens tomorrow, November 13, at San Francisco’s Landmark Clay Theatre with Garibaldi’s Lovers, the latest film from Silvio Soldini (Days and Clouds, 2007), and will feature a Closing Night tribute to Paolo Sorrentino (This Must Be the Place, 2011) that includes a screening of his new film The Great Beauty.   NIC 2013 will screen a total of 14 new films, including a three-film spotlight of recent Neapolitan cinema and eight terrific features by up-and-coming directors entered in the City of Florence Award competition.  Decided by audience ballot, this annual award is announced at Closing Night on Sunday, November 17.  There is also a fabulous Closing Night Party at 1300 On Fillmore, known for Chef David Lawrence’s inspired soul food and its smooth jazz.  The program eases into weekend by offering two films on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings starting and four films on both Saturday and Sunday.

NIC provides the opportunity not only to see these films before they are widely available (and some will always be difficult to find outside Italy) but also to experience them presented by directors, actors, producers and other involved parties, and to participate in lively Q&A’s about the films. Attending this year: Silvio Soldini, director, Garibaldi’s Lovers (Opening Night film); Paolo Sorrentino, director, The Great Beauty (Closing Night film); Stefano Mordini, director, Steel; and actor Luigi Maria Burruano who appears in The Ideal City.   Thematically, this year’s NIC delves into issues of economic instability, cultural and familial conflict and metropolitan living.

NIC is organized by the San Francisco Film Society, in collaboration with New Italian Cinema Events ( and Italian Cultural Institute, San Francisco, under the auspices of the Consulate General of Italy. NIC is one of more than 200 participating events taking place in more than 50 American cities this year in recognition of 2013 The Year of Italian Culture in the United States.

The charming venue, Clay Theatre, situated on the busting Fillmore Street, was built in 1910 and is one of the oldest theatres in San Francisco (refurbished with comfortable new seats).

ARThound recommends:

Thursday 6:45 pm: There Will Come a Day (Un giorno devi andare) (Georgio Diritti, Italy/France 2013)

Having suffered the double whammy of losing her baby and then being abandoned by her husband for her inability to have children, soulful Augusta (Jasmine Trinca) flees Italy for the Brazilian Amazon to restore some meaning to her life.  There, hoping to do aid work, she joins up with Franca, a hard-line Catholic whose conversion tactics clash with her own spiritual values.  As the two women float down the river in a houseboat ministering to indigenous peoples, Augusta grows increasingly frustrated and leaves.  She ultimately ends up in the favelas in the port city of Manaus doing work that seems authentic and right for her.  Depicting Augusta’s journey with compassion and complexity and an often astonishing visual magnificence, director Giorgio Diritti’s second feature film is a work of great beauty about finding one’s place in this world, something all of us grapple with.  Diritti (The Man Who Will Come, SFIFF 2010) also address important issues like the surge in World Evangelism, the displacement of poor Brazilians (in preparation for the World Cup and Olympics), the Amazon’s fragile ecology, and the widening disparity between rich and poor.  Augusta’s story is delicately interwoven with that of her mother and new adoptive sister whose set-backs and own emotional wounding make for a compelling story of suffering, growth, and spiritual healing.  Features aerial shots of the grandeur of the Amazon.  110 minutes.


Sunday 6:00 pm Closing Night Film: The Great Beauty (La grande bellezza, Paolo Sorrentino, Italy/France 2013)

(Sunday 6:00 pm Closing Night Film) The Great Beauty (La grande bellezza, Paolo Sorrentino, Italy/France 2013)  In Italian, “grande bellezza,” like “grande tristezza,” can relate to love, sex, art, or death.  In Paolo Sorrentino’s swooning epic, it refers to Rome, and Sorrentino evokes the eternal city with exacting panache, melancholy, and knowing.  It’s also been hailed as a very timely reflection on the excesses and stagnation of Italy in the era of prime minister Berlusconi.  The film premiered at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival where it was a contender for the Palme d’Or and has been selected as the Italian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards.  It reunites Sorrentino with his favorite leading man, Toni Servillo, Italy’s leading stage and screen actor, who has starred in three of his previous films— films One Man Up (2001), The Consequences of Love (2004), and Il Divo (2008).  Servillo plays aging Roman playboy Jep Gambardella, a man who wrote one promising novel in his youth and, since then, has lived on its fumes.  A cultivated gentleman by day; at night, Jep chases away death and introspection by hosting wild parties to the stylish elite at night.  Following his 65th birthday and a shocking news about a long lost love, Jep looks beyond his shallow and amusing world to find a timeless Roman landscape of absurd, exquisite beauty—a classic in the high Italian style of Fellini’s La Dolce Vita and Antonioni’s La Notte.  (142 mins.)

New Italian Cinema 2013 line up:

6:15pm Opening Night Film: Garibaldi’s Lovers (Silvio Soldini, 2012) filmmaker attending*
9:00pm Napoli 24 (Multiple Directors, 2010) Neapolitan Retrospective*

6:30pm Balancing Act (Ivano De Matteo, 2012)
6:45pm There Will Come a Day (Georgio Diritti, 2013)

6:30pm Steel (Stefano Mordini, 2012)  filmmaker attending*
9:00pm Cosimo and Nicole (Francesco Amato, 2013)

12:15pm We Believed (Mario Martone, 2010)  Neapolitan Retrospective*
4:15pm Ali Blue Eyes (Claudio Giovannesi, 2012)
6:30pm Out of the Blue (Edorado Leo, 2013)
9:00pm The Interval (Leonardo di Costanzo, 2012)

1:00pm Gorbaciof (Stefano Incerti, 2010)  Neapolitan Retrospective*
3:00pm The Ideal City (Luigi Lo Cascio, 2012)  Luigi Maria Burruano, actor, attending*
6:00pm Closing Night Film: The Great Beauty (Paolo Sorrentino, 2013) filmmaker attending*
9:15pm Closing Night Reception at 1300 on Fillmore
9:30pm One Man Up (Paolo Sorrentino, 2013)

Details: New Italian Cinema is November 13-17, 2013 at San Francisco’s Landmark Clay Theatre, 2261 Fillmore Street, San Francisco. (Please click here for a map of the location.) Film tickets $12 for SFFS members, $14 general, $13 seniors, students and persons with disabilities, $10 children (12 and under); Closing Night film and party tickets $20 for SFFS members, $25 general; Fall Season CineVoucher 10-Packs $110 for SFFS members, $130 general.  Purchase tickets online here.

November 12, 2013 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Italian Cinema: Italian film actress Laura Morante’s Directorial Debut “The Cherry on the Cake”

In Laura Morante’s “The Cherry on the Cake,” Morante stars as a woman who may suffer from “androphobia,” an inability to be happy with a boyfriend.

The New Italian Cinema film festival closes Sunday, November 18 with Laura Morante’s directorial debut, the romantic comedy The Cherry on the Cake (La Cerise sur le gâteau), followed by a festive closing night reception at a nearby locale.  The veteran Italian film actress Morante stars as Amanda, a slightly neurotic fifty-something woman in Paris whose current relationship is tanking.  When she meets the cultured Antoine (Pascal Elbé) at a New Year’s party, she’s convinced he’s gay.  As their relationship blossoms, he feels romantic feeling for her, but gets the strange sense that she just wants to be friends. Add Amanda’s meddling sister Florence (Isabelle Carré) and her psychologist husband to the mix, and the recipe for a savory comedy of compounding errors is complete. With rapid-fire dialogue and a speedy pace, The Cherry on the Cake is a piquant portrait of a woman’s search for her perfect match. (Screens Sunday, November 18 9:15 PM)

Details:  New Italian Cinema is November 11-18, 2012 at the Landmark’s Embarcadero Center Cinema.  Tickets are $13.

November 16, 2012 Posted by | Film | , | Leave a comment

New Italian Cinema starts tomorrow with a special tribute to Valeria Golino, November 11-18, 2012

Valeria Golino stars in KRYPTONITE!, playing at New Italian Cinema, November 11-18, 2012, at Landmark’s Embarcadero Center Cinema in San Francisco. Image courtesy SFFS.

The New Italian Cinema film festival, now in its 16th  year, opens on Sunday, November 11, 2012, with a four film tribute honoring Italian actress Valeria Golino, who will make a special guest appearance, and promises to tantalize audiences with Kryptonite! (2011), her directorial debut which is a quirky family drama set in in 1970’s Naples.  Kryptonite! director Ivan Cotroneo is expected to attend as well.  Seven terrific features by up-and-coming directors are featured in the City of Florence Award competition.  The films in this year’s program include delightful coming-of-age stories, an intense war drama and one very memorable road trip. For the first time in many years, the festival is also presenting a documentary, the delightfully personal Hit the Road, Nonna. Closing out the program is Laura Morante’s directorial debut, the romantic comedy The Cherry on the Cake, followed by a festive closing night reception at a nearby locale.  (Stay tuned to ARThound for festival coverage.)

Details:  New Italian Cinema is November 11-18, 2012 at the Landmark’s Embarcadero Center Cinema.  Tickets are $13.

November 10, 2012 Posted by | Film | | Leave a comment

The Italian Cultural Institute of San Francisco presents “Italy in Film: 1978 – 2008,” a free film series, Friday evenings, February 24-March 23, 2012

Tony Servillo (center) is scandal-ridden seven time Italian Prime Minister, Giulio Andreotti, in Paolo Sorrentino’s “Il Divo,” screening at “Italy in Film: 1978-2008,” at San Francisco’s Italian Cultural Institute, starting February 24, 2012. Image: Music Box Films/MPI Media Group

 The Italian Cultural Institute of San Francisco will present “Italy in Film: 1978-2008,” a selection of five entertaining Italian films on Friday evenings starting February 24, 2012,  that explore main changes and issues in Italian society.  The Italian Cultural Institute co-sponsors the acclaimed annual Italian fall film series “New Italian Cinema” and at last November’s N.I.C. hosted Daniele Luchetti and held post-film discussions with the prominent filmmaker.  The audience was transfixed.   “Italy in Film” offers another chance to familiarize yourself with a few of the best newer Italian films.  The series follows a chronology of events from the 1970s to the 2000s, as well as five key themes: politics, mafia and family, work, economy, and immigration. Together, these create a vivid portrait of contemporary Italy from multiple perspectives.  The host is Professor Andrea Bini (MA in Film studies at the University of Texas at Austin, Ph.D. in Italian studies at UCLA).  He is currently teaching Italian literature and film at Santa Clara University and contributed two chapters to the newly published Popular Italian Cinema: Culture and Politics in a Postwar Society, edited by Flavia Brizio-Skow.  All movies are in Italian with English subtitles.  

Friday, February 24 at 6:30 pm:     The Divo (Il Divo), Directed by Paolo Sorrentino, (2008, 110 min.): Register Now!

A biographical drama based on seven time Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti, leader of Italy’s Christian Democrat party.  “Il Divo” is a label that was once applied to Julius Ceasar II and is just once of Andreotti’s nicknames─Sphinx, Hunchback, Black Pope and Beezebub are others.  The film is an almost operatic look at his 44 year reign and the Christian Democrats’ last months of power in the early 90’s as mob connections, murders, and other corruption became public knowledge.  Andreotti’s legend is enhanced by the great performance of Toni Servillo, an actor who delivers an absolutely hypnotic character so devoid of magnetism, so Poker-faced, dry and dispassionate, that he becomes fascinating.   The film is a full-on indictment and delivers an astounding and engrossing spree of violence and carnage.

Written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino; director of photography, Luca Bigazzi; edited by Cristiano Travaglioli; music by Teho Teardo; production designer, Lino Fiorito; produced by Nicola Giuliano, Francesca Cima, Andrea Occhipinti and Maurizio Coppolecchia.  Cast:  Toni Servillo, Anna Bonaiuto, Giulio Bosetti, Flavio Bucci , Carlo Buccirosso and Giorgio Colangeli.

Friday, March 2 at 6:30 pm:     One Hundred Steps (I Cento Passi) , Directed by by Marco Tullio Giordana (2000, 114 min.): Register Now! 

I Cento Passi is about the life of Giuseppe “Peppino” Impastato, a political activist who opposed the Mafia in Sicily. The story takes place in the small town of Cinisi in the province of Palermo, the home town of the Impastato family. One hundred steps was the number of steps it took to get from the Impastato house to the house of the Mafia boss Tano Badalamenti.  The film opens with Peppino as a small child singing the popular song “Volare” with his brother in the back seat of a car on the way to a family gathering. The family is in good standing in the social community and they are celebrating the fact that they have such a good life.  Soon after, Peppino’s uncle Don Cesare, a Don (Mafia boss), is blown up by a car bomb which was planted by a rival Mafia boss. So ends Peppino’s time of innocence.  Little by little, as Peppino grows, he learns to despise the Mafia and in 1968, he joins left wing parties and groups and starts organizing and supporting the farmers and landowners whose ground has been expropriated to build the Punta Raisi airport.  Along with friends, he starts a pirate radio station, ‘Radio Aut’ and publicly accuses the Mafia in Cinisi and Terrasini of controlling the drugs and arms trafficking through the airport.  Through the radio, Peppino mocks the mafia and they tire of his impudence.  Peppino’s final days play out against the great upheavals of the 1970’s. 

Directed by Marco Tullio Giordana; written by Claudio Fava, Marco Tullio Giordana.  Cast: Luigi Lo Cascio, Luigi Maria Burruano, Lucia Sardo.

Friday, March 9 at 6:30 pm:     The Fever (La Febbre), Directed by Alessandro D’Alatri (2005, 108 min.): Register Now!

D’Alatri  is beloved by audiences and critics for his amazing ability to balance drama and comedy and to tell amazing stories of the inner lives of seemingly ordinary people leading boring lives.  La Febbre is the story of Mario (Fabio Volo), a young man in his thirties who still lives with his mother in the northern town of Cremona, birthplace of Stradivarius.  The film addresses what was once a very common European middle class career aspiration─parents who encouraged  their children to settle into civil service jobs, with job security and good benefits, which is what Mario’s mother wants for Mario. He dreams of opening a nightclub but goes along with mom and gets a job at a local prefecture. Things seem to go from bad to worse but, at the same time, he meets the beautiful Linda (Valeria Solarino), an exotic dancer who makes him rethink his life.

Cast: Fabio Volo, Valeria Solarino, Vittorio Franceschi, Massimo Bagliani, Gisella Burinato, Thomas Trabacchi, Gianluca Gobbi, Paolo Jannacci, Alessandro Garbin, Lucilla Agosti, Julie Depardieu.


Friday, March 16 at 6:30 pm:     The Jewel (Il Gioellino), Directed by Andrea Molaioli (2011, 110 min.): Register Now! 

Based on the real-life bankruptcy of the Italian company Parmalat, Molaioli’s film reunites him with the great Toni Servillo (The Girl by the Lake, La Ragazza del Lago)(2007) to dramatize a true example of corporate corruption. In 1992, Italian dairy company Leda decides it needs to diversify.  CFO Ernesto Botta (Servillo), right hand man of the boss Amanzio Rastelli (Remo Girone) suggests going public in order to raise cash, but mismanagement, backroom dealings and widespread financial finagling lead to disaster.  Even as the business unravels and it becomes obvious who will be the scapegoat, Botta remains loyal and unflappable. The pace is slow and mesmerizing, and we watch Leda unraveling for years as Rastelli keeps bringing the company back from the brink of failure.  The action switches from Italy to New York to Moscow as various leveraged financing schemes are tried to keep Leda, once the little jewel, afloat.  With a wide range of hooded glances and a particular rhythm of speech, Servillo inhabits yet another character unable to extricate himself from a devastating predicament.

Directed by Andrea Molaioli; written by Andrea Molaioli, Ludovica Rampoldi, Gabriele Romagnoli; photographed by Luca Bigazzi. Cast: Toni Servillo, Remo Girone, Sarah Felberbaum, Lino Guanciale.

Friday, March 23 at 6:30 pm:   Clash of Civilization Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio (Scontro di civiltà per un ascensore a Piazza Vittorio), Directed by Isotta Toso (2010, 96 min.): Register Now! 

A nineteenth century apartment building inhabited by a group of tenants of various nationalities in Rome’s Piazza Vittorio is the scene of a suspicious death.  Within the walls of the building, there arises a clash of civilizations in which the differences within the group─ beliefs, cultural pratcices─become more evident daily and lead to misunderstandings, provocations, and distrust.  Anyone could to be the killer and each person, zany but believably real, begins to blame the other.  The group, together, will reveal the killer’s name to the police commissioner, in place of the only witness that cannot speak: the elevator.  Based on the novel of the same name by Algerian novelist Amara Lakhous, Toso’s film is an exploration of truth seen through various perspectives and a touching ode to the human condition, so fraught with misunderstandings.  

Directed by Isotta Toso; written by Maura Vespini, Isotta Toso; photography by Fabio Zamarion;
music by: Gabriele Coen, Mario Rivera. Cast: Kasia Smutniak, Daniele Liotti, Roberto Citran, Isa Danieli, Ninetto Davoli, Kesia Elwin, Ahmed Hafiene, Francesco Pannofino, Marco Rossetti, Milena Vukotic, Serra Yilmaz 

Details:  Screenings are held Fridays, February 24, 2012 – March 23, 2012 at 6:30 PM, at the Italian Cultural Institute, 814 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, CA 94133.  Admission is free, but space is limited, and RSVP required.  To RSVP, click the link by the film you wish to see and you will be directed to  a registration webpage which will send you a confirmation email.

February 24, 2012 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

New Italian Cinema prequel: acclaimed Italian Filmmaker, Daniele Luchetti in conversation at Italian Cultural Institute Saturday, November 12, 2011

Italian Filmmaker Daniele Luchetti, subject of a retrospective at New Italian Cinema, November 13- 20, 2011, will speak at the Italian Cultural Institute in San Francisco on Saturday, November 12, 2011, after a screening of his award-winning film "My Brother is an Only Child." Photo: Courtesy of San Francisco Film Society

The Italian Cultural Institute of San Francisco will host a special event with acclaimed Italian filmmaker Daniele Luchetti on Saturday, November 12, 2011 at the Italian Cultural Institute, located at 814 Montgomery Street in San Francisco.  Luchetti’s film My Brother Is an Only Child (Mio fratello è figlio unico, 2007, 108 min., in Italian with English subtitles) will screen at 3:00 pm, then at 5:00 pm, Luchetti will be interviewed by Rod Armstrong, programmer for the San Francisco Film Society, to discuss the film as well as the broader scope of Luchetti’s work. This special event with Luchetti is a rare opportunity to hear about the filmmaker’s experience in a more intimate setting, just prior to the the 2011 edition of the New Italian Cinema festival, which celebrates Luchetti with a three film tribute.

New Italian Cinema opens Sunday, November 13, 2011, in San Francisco at Landmark’s Embarcadero Cinema with Luchetti’s latest film Our Life (La nostra vita, 2010, 98 min) and runs through November 20, 2011.  The other two films in the Luchetti tribute are It’s Happening Tomorrow (Domani accadrà,1988, 87 min), a philosophical Western set in Tuscany’s Maremma region and Ginger and Cinnamon (Dillo con parole mie, Italy 2003, 103 min), a romantic comedy of flirtation, sex and errors set on the Greek island of Ios. 

Now in its 15th year in San Francisco, New Italian Cinema runs every October and is an excellently curated taste of the best new Italian filmmaking.  In addition to the Luchetti opening night film and tribute, this year’s porgramming will feature eight additional new feature films by up and coming filmmakers who are all vying for the City of Florence Award, as well as the closing night film, Habemus Papam (2011), by acclaimed director Nanni Moretti who was an influential mentor for Luchetti.  The films in this year’s program investigate topics including corporate malfeasance, office politics, rural life and war, as experienced by Italians from every walk of life.   All filmmakers are expected to be in attendance at the Embarcadero for lively Q&A’s with their audiences.  The festival concludes with a fabulous closing night party at Fior d’Italia in North Beach, one of America’s oldest Italian restaurants, established in 1886. 

New Italian Cinema is presented by the San Francisco Film Society, New Italian Cinema Events of Florence, Italy and the Italian Cultural Institute of San Francisco.  Tickets, a full scheule, and further information on New Italian Cinema are available at 

About Daniele Luchetti:  Daniele Luchetti was born in 1960 in Rome. He first worked as an actor and later as an assistant director to Nanni Moretti.  The first film of his own that he directed, Domani accadrà, received a David di Donatello as best debuting film. He went on to make Il portaborse (1991), featuring Silvio Orlando who is pressed into becoming a lackey speechwriter for a ruthless politician, played by Nanni Moretti. The film was seen as a forecast of the “Mani pulite” corruption scandal that struck Italy the following year, and won four David di Donatello awards. Luchetti is the recipient of dozens of other awards and nominations, including a Nastro d’Argento for best screenplay for My Brother Is an Only Child, and a David di Donatello for best film for Our Life, which was also the only Italian film in competition at the 2010 Cannes Film FestivalLuchetti’s skill as a filmmaker lies in his ability to draw in the viewer and forge a direct relationshiop with his audience through the narrative and characters of his films.


My Brother is an Only Child: (Mio fratello è figlio unico), 2007, 108 min: Winner of four David di Donatello Awards (Italian equivalent of an Academy Award)—Best Actor (Elio Germano), Best Supporting Actress (Angela Finocchiaro), Best Screenplay, Best Editing—My Brother is an Only Child, is a hit in its native Italy and screened at the Cannes and Toronto film festivals.  The film reunites director Luchetti with longtime collaborators Sandro Petraglia and Stefano Rulli, screenwriters of the highly-acclaimed epic The Best of Youth (La meglio gioventù) 2003.

Set in a small Italian town in the 1960’s and 70’s, the film tells the story of two brothers who want to change the world — but in completely different ways.  Manrico (Riccardo Scarmaccio), the oldest, is a handsome, charismatic firebrand who becomes the prime mover in the local Communist party.  Accio, (Elio Germano), the younger, more rebellious brother, finds his own contrarian voice by joining the reactionary Fascists. What starts as a typical tale of sibling rivalry becomes the story of the polarizing and paralyzing politics of those turbulent times and, the rift between the brothers is further intensified when Accio realizes that he loves his brother’s girlfriend, Francesca (Diane Fleri) who, like everyone else, is blind to Manrico’s increasingly dangerous ideas.  Addressing the dreams and disillusionments of the 60’s and 70’s, My Brother is an Only Child is set in the exact era of the groundbreaking early classics of Bernardo Bertolucci and Marco Bellochio.  Not only does Luchetti pay explicit homage to those films — “Before the Revolution,” “Fist in the Pocket,” and “China is Near” — he comes very close to matching their beauty, intelligence, and youthful exuberance. (THINKfilm) 

A scene from Daniele Luchetti's "Our Life," the opening night fim at New Italian Cinema. A construction worker, married with two kids and desperately needing money to support his family, faces a devastating blow in this powerful character portrait that earned Elio Germano the Best Actor prize at Cannes. Photo: courtesy San Francisco Film Society.

About the Italian Cultural Institute:  The Italian Cultural Institute (Istituto Italiano di Cultura, or IIC) of San Francisco promotes Italian language, culture and the best of Italy by disseminating information about Italy, offering scholarships, and presenting cultural events including art exhibitions, film screenings, concerts, lectures, book presentations, poetry readings, round table discussions and other events. Its goal is to foster mutual understanding and cultural cooperation between Italy and the United States. The Italian Cultural Institute of San Francisco presents a rotating exhibition schedule, video and book libraries containing Italian books, cds, dvds, journals and newspapers; and information and documentation on cultural matters in Italy.

A scene from “Ginger and Cinnamon,” playing as part of the tribute to Daniele Luchetti at New Italian Cinema. Stefania (Stefania Montorsi) (left) heads off to the Greek Island of Ios with her 14-year-old niece, Martina (Martina Merlino), in a farcical romance. Photo: courtesy of San Francisco Film Society.

The IIC moved in September 2010 to its current location at 814 Montgomery Street, in the historic Jackson Square District of San Francisco. For further information on the IIC and its events,

Details:  Saturday, November 12, 2011, screening of My Brother is an Only Child at 3:00 pm and conversation at 5:00 pm at Istituto Italiano di Cultura, 814 Montgomery St., San Francisco, (415) 788-7142.            Tickets:  $10/general, $5/members of the IIC.  Please RSVP to 415-788-7142 ext 18

New Italian Cinema:  Tickets, a full scheule, and further information on New Italian Cinema at

November 2, 2011 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

film review: SFFS New Italian Cinema In “18 Years Later” (18 anni dopo), two estranged brothers embark on an Italian road trip in a classic Morgan to lay dad’s ashes to rest

A scene from Edoardo Leo's "18 YEARS LATER," screening Thursday 11/18 and Sunday 11/21 at New Italian Cinema at Landmark's Embarcadero Center Cinema. Photo: SFFS.

This year’s New Italian Cinema series, November 14-21, 2010, at Landmark’s Embarcadero Cinemas, by the San Francisco Film Society  and Istituto Italiano di Cultura di San Francisco showcases new films by seven emerging young Italian filmmakers, most of whom you’ve probably never heard of but all of whom will be making personal appearances at their screenings to discuss their work.  The annual mini-festival is sponsored by the San Francisco Film Society  and Istituto Italiano di Cultura di San Francisco highlights new trends in Italian cinema.  Established director Turkish-born Ferzan Ozpetek was honored at the series’ opening night last Sunday with a screening of his new film “Loose Cannons” and a retrospective of three of his classics which screened on Sunday and Monday.  Paolo Verzi closes the festival this Sunday, November 21, with “The First Beautiful Thing,” Italy’s official submission for the foreign-language Oscar. 

Being a European vintage car buff and an Italian film aficionado, Edoardo Leo’s “18 Years Later” (18 anni dopo) stood out in the program as a potential gem—showcasing a gorgeous vintage Morgan 4+ or 4-4 roadster in classic British racing green and a road trip through the Italian countryside–a journey that stands to reunite two estranged brothers.  The film screens this Thursday and Sunday.  If you are a car buff, this finicky Morgan will keep you entertained.  And even if  you can’t tell a Morgan from a Fiat Dino, the film  is definitely worth seeing for the touching tale it weaves about a broken family.   Its members have suppressed the truth and their feelings for so long that they each have became stuck in toxic patterns that have drained them and those around them of life.   When a tragedy occurs, the added grief is nearly insurmountable.

Italian brothers Mirko (director Edoardo Leo) and Genziano (co-writer Marco Bonini) haven’t spoken since their mother died 18 years ago in a car accident.  Genziano moved to London after the accident and buried himself in work–becoming a successful merchant banker.  Sweet stammering Mirko stayed at home in Rome helping out in the family’s auto repair garage until he lost sight of himself, got swallowed up in debt and faces losing his wife who sees him as a shadow of the man he once was.   His speech impediment seems directly related to his repressed emotions.

When their father dies, Genziano returns to Rome for a 24 hour visit and spends most of his time on his iphone orchestrating a complex futures sale that is to go through the moment he returns to London.  He is nervous, distracted, unable and unwilling to connect emotionally with the family he left behind years ago.  

When Mirko discovers that their father’s last wish was to have his ashes put to rest beside those of their mother in Calabria some 300 miles away, and that the two brothers are to accomplish this delivery in the Morgan roadster in which their mother mysteriously died, he is beside himself.   He also learns that their father secretly rebuilt the wrecked Morgan and stored it in the garage awaiting his death when it instead could have been sold to get the family out of hock.   

Barely speaking, the two brothers reluctantly embark on their journey with their dad’s ashes in the back seat.  Predictably, they experience a number of setbacks—including encountering a pretty hitchhiker who manages to break their silence, a breakdown, and losing the Morgan and their dad’s ashes. 

There is comic relief at the film’s midpoint when the two brothers are forced to hitchhike and encounter all sorts of characters and situations that bring them together.

The car carries as much symbolic weight in the film as the actors.  It knows the truth about the past but cannot speak it and suffers a breakdown that sets the stage for the truth to surface.   Why an Italian would buy a Morgan, over a classic Italian car  in the first place is a puzzler, but it seems the father and mother lived in London at one point and were wealthy enough to buy the luxury British roadster and returned to Rome to raise their family and brought the car with them. 

In terms of Morgan design features that figure in the film’s plot—the convertible requires a good half hour of wrangling to get its top erected, which involves manually attaching a canvas roof cover to a metal frame and then positioning that frame over the car—an awful task in the rain. It’s even more terrible for two brothers who aren’t speaking and who are transporting dad’s remains in a not so leak-proof ash tray in the back seat.  That the electrical system implodes on this first long run in years is almost a given. Morgans are notoriously finicky.   This sets the stage for stuttering Mirko to shine as he uses his mechanical skills to finesse some bastard repairs while the impatient financial whiz Genziano appears useless.    

Sabrina Impacciatore shines as Mirella and Gabriele Ferzetti as her father-in-law in Edoardo Leo’s “18 Years Later,” playing at New Italian Cinema, November 14-21, 2010 at Landmark’s Embarcadero Center. Photo: SFFS.

A subplots unfolds in Rome involving their grandfather, played wonderfully by Gabriele Ferzetti, who reveals what he knows about his daughter’s death to Mirella (Sabrina Impacciatore), Mirko’s loyal but very frustrated wife.   She is biding the time that Mirko is away by sorting through old photos, looking for clues as to how her husband–silent about the past–arrived at his sorry state.

The ending is magical, proving there no one who knows you like a brother who is near your age and who you have grown up with.  This is a slow-paced film that rests on the solid acting of Leo and Bonini who initially seem as different as night and day but sink into their roles credibly as the film progresses. 

108 minutes, in Italian with English subtitles

Director: Edoardo Leo

Producers: Guido De Angelis, Nicola De Angelis, Marco De Angelis for DAP Italy

Writers: Edoardo Leo, Marco Bonini, Lucilla Schiaffino,

Cast: Edoardo Leo, Marco Bonini, Sabrina Impacciatore, Eugenia Costantini, Gabriele Ferzetti, Tommaso Olivieri, Vinicio Marchioni,

Part of New Italian Cinema, November 14-21, 2010, sponsored by the San Francisco Film Society and the Italian Cultural Institute of San Francisco.  Guest appearance of Director Edoardo Leo. 

Screens: Thursday, November 18, 6:00 pm & Sunday, November 21, 3:00 pm,  Landmark’s Embarcadero Cinema.  Tickets: $12.50,

November 17, 2010 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment