by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor
When you are part of Italian film royalty, one of the things that you do know is Italian cinema. Veronica De Laurentiis is the daughter of legendary film producer Dino De Laurentiis and neorealist film star Silvana Mangano. With cinema in her blood, she is the perfect programmer for the VISIONS OF ITALY program screening today at the Palm Beach International Film Festival.
De Laurentiis, who jet sets between homes in Rome and Los Angeles, has worn many hats in her career. Actress, fashion designer, best-selling novelist, lecturer, television personality.....all of these impressive credentials have made her one of Italy's most recognizable faces. Her memoir LA MIA VITA (Claim My Life) is on the Italian best seller list for months and she is currently finishing up a follow-up book. She has been one of the first to tour Italy and speak openly about issues of rape, domestic abuse and breaking the silence surrounding these taboo subjects. She has launched her own foundation to combat domestic violence and is one of Italy's most respected motivational speakers (self-help being a new phenomenon in Italian culture).
"For the film series that I have programmed here in Palm Beach, I wanted to bring fims that have a message of hope and tell the truth", De Laurentiis commented during our interview. "I have found in my personal life that finding the truth is the most important thing we can do with our lives, and films help that process by showing how others have done it. In this way, film is a great inspiration."
The program of Italian films, most making their U.S. debuts at the Festival, includes: ATOMIC! A TRAIN OF MAD ITALIANS IN CHINA, a documentary about mental patients and their care workers who take a train from Venice to Beijing, directed by Giovanni Piperno; DOUBLE (Doppio), the story of an Italian filmaker who must work in a dubbing house to make ends meet, written and directed by Eric Alexander; NARCISO, DIETRO I CANNONI, DAVANTI AI MULI, a look at the emergence of multiculturalism in Italy as told in the story of a mountain worker who returns to his native village with a Muslim son and wife, written and directed by Marcello and Dario Baldi; and SALVATORE, the tale of a young boy who is forced to live with his grandfather, who is played by Giancarlo Giannini. In addition, the program will showcase four short films from a new generation of emerging Italian filmmakers.
With Italy's filmmaking scene making (yet another renaissance) with the international successes of films like GOMORRAH and IL DIVO, this program of new Italian film talents is of definite interest. Asked why this resurgence in interest in Italian cinema has blossomed again, De Laurentiis offered "Italian filmmakers get so little government support and yet they have amazing stories to tell.....so they must find economical and effective ways to put their films on the screen."