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Lavazza Italian Film Festival: Our Top Three

Beatrice Smith

As I may have mentioned before, Italian cinema has something of a hold on me.

From the scenery to the language, the ever-present cultural heritage of so many amazing achievements (science! art! flight! gelato!) as well as a habit of producing some of the best dramatic actors in the business, Italian cinema has few rivals. Italian cinema, presented in such a cohesive, rich format as the Lavazza Italian Film Festival, allows you to fully immerse yourself in Italy, if only for a month or so.

The location is imperative to the experience – the obvious choice for film festival locations has been Palace Electric in NewActon with its intimate, subterranean Brown Brothers Prosecco Bar a far cry from the noisy soda soaked Candy Bars of my youth.

One of my favourite cinematic memories is going to three films from the Alliance Francais French Film Festival in a single day, allowing cinema to become less of an ‘rainy day past time’ and more of an indulgent ‘experience’, fully appreciating the art that goes into curating a film festival for an overseas audience.

Palace Electric is known for bringing boutique international cinema to Canberra and each new film festival seems a world away from the popcorn-and-sticky-carpet of other cinemas, an indulgent treat for lovers of cinema and the Italian Film Festival is no different.

We’ve scoured the LIFF program and come up with our top three ‘must see’ films on our agenda so you can indulge yourself in the chocolate truffle of cinema that is Italian film.



Sadly I’ve been unable to find a trailer for L’Oriana with English subtitles, but through the magic that is dramatic music and beautiful cinematography (and perhaps a little help from the LIFF website) I can figure out what this film is about.

Oriana Fallaci was one of Italy’s most prolific female journalists in the latter half the 20th century who travelled the world, interviewing such heavyweights as Indira Gandhi, Yasser Arafat and Henry Kissinger. L’Oriana, a fictional interpretation of her life, follows Oriana’s later years as she returns to her villa in Italy, taking in a protege with whom she develops a complex relationship. From my research of Oriana’s life, this film obviously had to be made at some point (she seems like the Truman Capote of Italy) and has apparently been pulled off with aplomb, with rave reviews from Italy to Canada.

There’s always a chance with these ‘iconic figure’ films that the final product falls short of the mark, or perhaps overly glorifies every single action, failing to separate the fallible human from the legend, but L’Oriana seems to have hit its mark. I can’t wait to see it.

Latin Lover


Italy is known as the home of the lothario and this film seems to be about the original lothario. Though a fictional tale, I’m sure there are many paralells between the fictional lothario Saverio Crispo and midcentury Italian film stars. The plot centres on a meeting between the daughters of Crispo who are the product of a rather promiscuous lifestyle. It’s a comedy so you can expect the awkwardness of the situation to be capitalised on to the furthest extent. It’s set in Crispo’s ‘hometown’, too, so you can expect glorious Italian countryside.

This film may exploit the traditional view of Italian men as swarthy, but with the great reception it received in Italy with nominations for Best Actress, Best Costume Design, Best Make-Up and Best Hair Design at the 2015 David di Donatello Awards and nominations for Best Comedy, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Costume, Best Editing and Best Casting at the Nastro d’Argento Awards 2015 you can expect the best.

Italy In A Day


This film is one of the most unique and ambitious concepts I’ve seen attempted in a while. Italy In A Day is a collage of snippets of video created by everyday Italians who responded to a call out by Director Gabriele Salvatores for short home-videos taken on phones or video cameras on the 26th of October 2013. In what must have been a mammoth effort by creators and studio, Salvatores has combined these videos to create a dusk ’til dawn picture of Italy on that particular day.

There’s volcanoes and babies, weddings, births, deaths and everything in between- no other film has quite managed to create a picture of the circle of life quite like Italy In A Day, even the trailer gave me a combination of misty eyes and goosebumps, not easy to do when you don’t even know what they’re saying.

I think if I only get along to see one film at the LIFF it’ll be Italy in a day. The idea of peeking into the lives of so many different Italians, seeing all the varied landscapes, all the things that happened on October 26 2013, is a fairly special experience.


The full program of films is here.


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Beatrice Smith

Bea loves that her job as HerCanberra’s Online Editor involves eating, drinking and interviewing people - sometimes simultaneously. The master of HerCanberra’s publishing schedule, she’s usually found hunched over a huge calendar muttering to herself about content balance. Otherwise, you’ll find her at the movies or ordering a cheese board. More about the Author