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Saluti! The Italian Film Festival starts this week

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The Italian Film Festival starts at Palace Electric Cinemas this week and the tiramisu of treats on offer is Bellissimo.

I cannot wait to see Pinocchio on opening night. I’ve seen shorts and the animation looks astounding. It also seems the darker parts of the original story will get some airtime, along with the raucous humour.

Roberto Benigni is playing Geppetto so his energy will make up for his wooden co-star (did you see what I did there?). The buzz seems to be around the amazing makeup (better timber texture than Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy), the richness of production and the scope of the filming. I’m very impressed with the storyboarding too.

Pinocchio Director Matteo Garrone.

I was fortunate to see The Goddess of Fortune at a preview last week and I was deeply moved. I laughed, I cried—I loved it. Although a bit concerned by the horror movie-like opening (had we wandered into the wrong cinema?).

I was fully involved with all the characters from the first giddy, handheld introduction to them.

The two central characters—Arturo and Alessandro—have been in a steady (if somewhat open) relationship for 15 years when their beloved friend Annamaria foisted her two children on them ‘for a few days’ while she has some tests in hospital. Needless to say, chaos ensues.

They live in Rome, but it is not the tourist’s eternal city, it is a place of rundown bars and offbeat neighbourhoods where everyone is trying to live their lives as best they can.

The Goddess of Fortune.

Besides laughter and tears, this film also has the most beautifully sketched riff on the meaning of family and devotion that I’ve seen in a while. And the gothic start eventually makes complete sense. So very worth seeing.

Other standouts in the festival, for me, include Golden Men, which promises to be a humorous but edgy heist story involving older postmen. Sounds like a winning formula.

Then there is The Big Step, advertised as a bittersweet comedic drama. Dario dreams of being an astronaut while his half-brother Mario, who barely knows him, runs a hardware store.

Dario is thrown in prison for causing a fire and Mario is the only one who can help him. The stills show Dario in an astronaut’s suit and it claims to pay tribute to American sci-fi and Italian poetry. Colour me intrigued.

Another film, Martin Eden (feature image), takes the original Jack London story out of the American west and transplants it into Italy just before the Second World War. Socialist foment, literary angst and passionate love—yes please!

Luca Marinelli stars and I loved his role in The Old Guard—the best speech and the best eyes in that film. I think he is destined for Big Things, if Hollywood every starts production again.

Pinocchio.

There’s a retrospective screening of the much-lauded Malena, for its 20th anniversary. If you’ve already seen it, it might be worth a reprise just for the recently lost (and much lamented) Ennio Morricone’s score.

Besides Pinocchio, there are two other family-friendly films—the wonderfully titled My Brother Chases Dinosaurs and The Most Beautiful Day in the World, advertised as a modern fairy tale about another unsuspecting adult looking after two children.

The brother has telekinetic powers and the scientists are circling—could be a human ET? I want to find out!

THE ESSENTIALS 

What: The Italian Film Festival 2020
When: 1-18 October 2020
Where: Palace Electric, Phillip Lim Street, NewActon
Website: italianfilmfestival.com.au/venues/canberra

Roslyn saw The Goddess of Fortune as a guest of Asha Holmes publicity.

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