11 September, 2010

Italian Cinema Bridges The Atlantic

PASSIONE (John Turturro, Italy)

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

As the Venice International Film Festival enters its final weekend, the annual overlap between it and the Toronto International Film Festival, which opened this past Thursday, is most keenly felt. It is no secret that the two festivals are major rivals for world premieres and the attention of the world press. Venice's appeal is well, that's it is of the world's most glamorous destinations. Toronto, a city that put the ugh in urban, is more industry-necessary and ultimately may have more commercial impact. However, the film business, that uneasy balance between art and commerce, is at its most vivid as both Venice and Toronto make nice over one's final and the one's first weekend.

This bridge across the Atlantic Ocean can also be evidenced by the strong contingent of Italian films playing in Toronto, cooridnated by the Italian Trade Commission, a public agency entrusted with promoting trade and business opportunities between Italian and foreign companies, and Cinecitta Luce (, whose FilmItalia team creates a presence for Italian cinema at film festivals in Cannes, Berlin, Bueones Aires, Toronto, Shanghai, Tokyo, Locarno, London and New York.

At this year's Toronto International Film Festival, Italian films are out in force in most of the Festival's sections. It even boast a World Premiere in the film THE CALL (La Llamada), the story of the ardent and sudden passion between two Italian women in Buenos Aires, in a film written and directed by Stefano Pasetto which is screening in the Discovery section.

Most of the Italians films on tap are International Premieres, marking their first time out of Italian soil. In the Special Presentations section of the Festival, three Italian titles are generating attention. GORBACIOF (The Cashier Who Liked Gambling) by writer/director Stefano Incerti tells the story of a prison cashier who spends his spare time in the illegal gambling den of a seedy Chinese food shop in Naples. MALAVOGLIA (The House By The Medlar Tree) by Pasquale Sciemca focuses on the effects of illegal immigration on a tight knit community of fishermen in Sicily. Actor-turned-director John Turturro expresses his amore for Napoli in the musical pastiche film PASSIONE.

In the Contemporary World Cinema section, Italian master director Saverio Costanzo delivers a devastating take on the role of fate in the lives of two misfits who seem destined to be alone but never are in THE SOLITUDE OF PRIME NUMBERS (La Solitudine Dei Numeri Primi). The scene shifts to a quiet medieval village perched high on the hills of Calabria in the existential drama LE QUATTRO VOLTE by Michelangelo Frammartino, which premieres in the Visions section of the Festival.

Italy is also represented in several major co-productions, including BARNEY'S VISION, a Canadian-Italian film starring Paul Giamatti, Dustin Hoffman and Minnie Driver, as directed by Richard J. Lewis; OUTSIDE THE LAW, an "Algerian GODFATHER" crime drama co-produced with France, Algeria, Tunisia and Belgium, directed by Rachid Bouchareb; and two co-productions with the UK: NEDS by Peter Mullan and ROUTE IRISH, the latest film from auteur Ken Loach. Whether in the heart of Venice or the pulse of Toronto, viva Italia!!!

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