Italian cinema is hot right now, with Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty winning the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and grossing a cool $2.8 million in the United States, good for No. 9 on the Italian-language box-office list. So it’s the perfect time to brush up on some of the latest Italian movies at the 2014 Atlanta Italian Film Festival, which will be playing April 24-27 at the Plaza Theatre.
Eight films, never before screened in Atlanta, will be playing at this year’s event, the eighth edition of Cinema Italy’s fest. All are in Italian with English subtitles, save for the documentary Chattahoochee Unplugged.
Individual film tickets can be purchased at The Plaza Theater box office for $10 each. Pre-event, festival passes are available for $40 at CinemaItaly.com, where you can also peruse the full event schedule.
If you’re thinking about checking out the 2014 Atlanta Italian Film Festival, here are three selections to put at the top of your list:
1) Viva la liberta
Friday, April 25, 9 p.m.
This is the big one, a great chance to see actor Toni Servillo in action. Servillo played lead character Jep Gambardella in The Great Beauty and is probably the consensus pick for best Italian actor working today. In Viva la liberta, Servillo plays two characters -- Enrico Olivieri, Secretary of the main opposition party who disappears as his party is languishing in the polls, and Enrico’s twin brother Giovanni Ernani, an ingenious philosopher who suffers from bipolar depression.
What to do about the missing politician? Enter Valerio Mastandrea as Andrea Bottini. Though unknown in the United States, the 42-year-old Mastandrea has been building up a stellar filmography, racking up six David di Donatello (Italian Oscar) nominations in the last seven years and winning three times.
Andrea decides to sub in Giovanni for Enrico, and before long public opinion and the crowds at rallies are excited and enthusiastic once again. But someone from a secret hiding place is following his movements and waiting.
Viva la liberta tallied 12 David di Donatello nominations this past year and won two -- Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (Mastandrea). Check it out and let me know what you think.
2) Tutti i santi giorni (Every Blessed Day)
Sunday, April 27, 7:30 p.m.
Guido (Luca Marinelli) is shy, reserved and well-educated. Antonia (Federica Victoria Caiozzo) is restless, touchy and proudly ignorant. He’s a night porter who loves ancient languages and saints; she’s an aspiring singer and works for a car rental company. Acclaimed Italian director Paolo Virzì (The First Beautiful Thing) helms this romantic love story, which unfolds in Rome.
Both Marinelli and Caiozzo received David di Donatello nominations for their performances in Tutti I santi giorni, which opened in Italy in 2012. Virzì’s subsequent film, Human Capital, has outstanding buzz, so this is an excellent opportunity to catch a rising star’s work on the big screen.
3) Cosimo e Nicole
Saturday, April 26, 9:30 p.m.
This drama, directed by Francesco Amato, won two awards at the 2012 Rome Fest. Cosimo (Riccardo Scamarcio) is Italian, Nicole (Clara Ponsot) is French. They meet in Genoa, during the G8 protests in 2001, and it’s love at first sight.
After bumming around a while, they decided to return to Genoa, where they take jobs working for a friend who organizes concerts. Everything seems to be going fine until a tragic accident threatens to destroy their love, forcing them to face choices that will mark their entire future.
Scamarcio is a pretty big name in Italy and has been nominated for a bunch of acting awards (and won a few), including turns in My Brother Is an Only Child and Romanzo criminale. He also had a role in Woody Allen’s 2012 pic To Rome with Love.
For more Italian movies news, reviews and analysis, visit VivaItalianMovies.com.