Fantastico – from Boccaccio to Bertolucci, it’s the Italian Film Festival

Laetitia Casta in A Woman as a Friend.
Laetitia Casta in A Woman as a Friend.

From the opening comedy to the closing night classic, Il Conformista, there’s something for everyone at the Italian Film Festival which runs from Friday September 18 until Sunday September 27 at the Palace Byron Bay Cinema.  Verandah Magazine readers have a chance to win a double pass to a single film – leave a comment below, or on our FB page to be in the draw…

The Lavazza Italian Film Festival returns to Palace Byron Bay this month offering audiences the chance to experience the elegance, beauty and boldness that is Italian cinema. The program will feature an exciting line up of brand new comedies, romantic tales, crime thrillers and gripping dramas including the closing night classic, Academy Award nominated The Conformist (Il Conformista), which sees the return to the big screen of acclaimed director Bernardo Bertolucci’s visually intoxicating art deco style adaptation of Alberto Moravia’s novel about an upper-class follower of Mussolini.

The festival opens on Friday September 18 with the award winning box office smash hit, God Willing (Se Dio Vuole), starring Italian heartthrob Alessandro Gassman. with Marco Giallini and Laura Morante, in a comedy about an atheist surgeon with a God-complex, a charismatic priest, a dysfunctional family and an announcement that takes everyone by surprise. Opening night tickets include pre-film drinks and after party with live entertainment, food, drinks – plus the coveted Italian gift bags.

God Willing

God Willing (Se Dio Vuole), starring Italian heartthrob Alessandro Gassman, Marco Giallini and Laura Morantee

The gripping crime thriller Perez, for which star Luca Zingaretti won Best Actor award at the Italian Golden Globes,  depicts an urban wasteland hiding the underbelly of organised crime through the filtered lens of the justice systems. Also delving into the criminal world is Black Souls (Anime Nere), an elegant, seething and expertly-directed, award-winning thriller by Francesco Munzi which is a timeless and powerful tale about the challenges of breaking cycles of crime and violence.

This year will see a string of Italian comedies light up the screen with highlights including Latin Lover, a charming and amusing new offering from acclaimed writer/director Cristina Comencini which tells the story of the life and secrets of the great Italian star Saverio Crispo, a “Latin Lover” played seductively by Francesco Scianna. Winner of the Best Comedy at the Italian Golden Globes in 2015, The Legendary Giulia (Noi E La Giulia) by Roman actor/director Edoardo Leo brings a fantastic cast together to tell the story of three down-on-their-luck men who meet by chance and decide to combine forces and risk everything to start a Bed and Breakfast. Warm-hearted, comedic gem Do You See Me? (Scusate Se Esisto!) stars Paola Cortellesi and Raoul Bova and delivers laugh-out-loud moments to celebrate the importance of individual value and being true to oneself. Finally, Mia Madre is the lively and brilliantly absurd comic clash from veteran director Nanni Moretti featuring John Turturro and an award winning performance from Margherita Buy as an unhinged filmmaker dealing with a personal crisis.

Other films set to deliver laughs are Unique Brothers (Fratelli Unici), a delightful comedy about family and second chances starring handsome duo Raoul Bova as a man suffering memory loss, and Luke Argentero as his irresponsible younger brother; A Fairytale Wedding (Un Matrimonio Da Favola), in which a whirlwind of comedic misunderstandings arise when four high school friends reconnect years later at a lavish wedding; Soap Opera, in which the kooky tenants of an apartment block experience a sudden and shocking situation when they let their private lives, past secrets and crazy passions intervene; and So Far So Good (Fino A Qui Tutto Bene), a touching comedy that that brings together five fantastic young actors who play university graduates facing important life choices.

Films that will add further excitement into the mix delving into experimental, fantasy and documentary cinema include Italy In A Day (Un Giorno Da Italiani). Oscar-winning director Gabriele Salvatores experiment portrays Italy though the eyes of Italians exposing their hopes and fears through a collage of 632 videos sent from all over Italy in a touching mosaic of life in Italy; director Matteo Garrone’s English language debut Tales Of Tales (Il Raccoto Dei Racconti), featuring an all-star cast of Salma Hayek, Toby Jones, Vincent Cassel, John C. Riley, Shirley Henderson and Hayley Carmichael. Not for the faint hearted, the film delves into the depths of the human psyches in a delicious dream-like visual feast brimming with imagination and mischief.

Wondrous Boccaccio

Wondrous Boccaccio – love triumphs over death.

Romantic tales are sure to delight at this year’s festival, with a selection including Wondrous Boccaccio (Maraviglioso Boccaccio) where love triumphs over death in veteran filmmakers Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s reinterpretation of Giovanni Boccaccio’s classic The Decameron; What A Beautiful Surprise (Ma Che Bellasorpresa), a classic romantic comedy of errors from the master Alessandro Genovese, about a jilted hopeless romantic who is surprised when he is given a second chance for love; and A Woman As A Friend (Una Donna Per Amica), an hilarious rom-com from Giovanni Veronesi, the director of box office sensation MANUAL OF LOVE, starring French model/actress Laetitia Casta and Fabio De Luigi.

Coming-of-age is explored in Short Skin, a surprising pleasure and profound drama that perfectly interweaves family drama and cheeky comedy; and Italo, a charming tale for all ages that depicts the life-altering friendship between an extraordinary dog and a lonely child.

Italo - Marco Bocci and Italo the dog.

Italo – Marco Bocci and Italo the dog.

Other titles that form part of this year’s festival line up include Partly Cloudy With Sunny Spells (Tempo Instabile Con Probabili Schiarite), a warm-hearted comedy with a conscience about generation clashes, new horizons and an oil discovery in a small town starring Luca Zingaretti, John Turturro and Pasquale Petrolo; and Mafia & Red Tomatoes (La Nostra Terra). Based on the real-life work of the Libera association, this recent Italian box-office hit tackles the issue of mafia power over communities with redemptive joy and a smile; and the Australian Premiere of the Venice multi award winning The Dinner (I Nostri Ragazzi), which follows the moral struggle facing two wealthy brothers and their wives in this gripping adaptation on the Dutch best-seller by Herman Koch.

You can also delve into a couple of fascinating biopics this year – Oriana (L’oriana) from Italian Golden Globe-winning director Marco Turco, about the life of Italian journalist and writer Oriana Fallaci who gave up everything in pursuit of her career; and Leopardi (Il Giovane Favoloso), an applauded and engrossing historical drama about the talent and struggle of Italy’s greatest 19th-century poet Giacomo Leopardi, a radical thinker and philosopher who produced inspiring works and intelligent prose that have influenced countless others, played by Elio Germano (Best Actor, Cannes Film Festival 2010).


Leave a comment below, or on Verandah Magazine’s Facebook page to be in the running to one of three double passes to a single film – other than the opening or closing nights.
Programs available at Palace Byron Bay Cinema or the festival website italianfilmfestival



Leave a Reply