Archive for April, 2011


La Terra Trema, The Earth Moves 1948

by Marianne Wi


I baci mai dati, Lost Kisses

by Marianne Wi

Director : Roberta Torre is a great Italian female writer and director, who although Milanese by birth has adopted Sicily for many of her films. You will know her from Sud Side Story, South Side Story 2000 –  Angela 2002 –  Mare Nero, The Dark Sea 2006 all of which have seen great success at International Film Festivals. I baci mai dati, Lost Kisses is set in Librino, a poor crime ridden build up area of Catania, Sicily. It was originally named Miracoli a Catania, Miracles in Catania perhaps being re-named due to the double edge ending, it is a film about Saints or is it about Sinners, Torre leave it up to you to decide. The film was at the Venice Film Festival 2010 and is already doing very well at International Festivals, will the Sicilians take to it? I think not.

Cast : Piera Degli Esposti, Donatella Finocchino, Beppe Fiorello, Cala Marchese, Pino Micol, Valentina Giordanella, Martina Galletta, Alessio Vassallo, Tony Palazzo, Gabriella Saitta, Lucia Sardo

Synobsis : Manuela (Carla Marchese) is a 13 year old teenager living with her mother Rita (Donnatella Finocchino) and her drug taking/dealing sister (Valentina Giordanella) together with her on/off  father (Beppe Fiorello) who has left the family home after a heated debate about lack of food and money, making this a strong female household. Librino, very much an ordernary crime ridden spot, depressing and with little going for it untill the day a larger than life statue is delivered of the Madonna. While some teenagers are playing football in front of the Madonna they score a goal by hitting her head with the ball, bringing it crashing to the ground, they quickly hide the evidence in an old lock-up.

Manuela has a dream during a hot Sicilian night, where the Madonna speaks to her concerning her missing head and its whereabouts. Manuela becomes the talk of the town, and her mother and the priest are quick off the mark, setting up business, big business. Where there’s a Madonna crying, laughing or simply speaking to teenagers, there are big bucks to be made in Italy. Manuela sees her life change from cleaning in a surreal hair salon to full-time employment working shifts listening to people’s problems, grievances and their wish lists, one lady speaking on behalf of her boyfriend “I wish the Madonna would find a job for my boyfriend in a supermarket, doing the shift from 3 pm to 8pm ” Manuela is making big bucks for her mother and the church by heading the “Factory of Hope” team. The scene where the priest sorts though her wardrobe is hilarious turning this colourful teenager into a drap Saint, untill one day…….. Torre has left the ending up to the viewer, you belive or you don’t the ending will be based on your religious beliefs.


Giuseppe Battiston My Favorite Italian Actor

by Marianne Wi

Giuseppe (Beppe) Battiston was born in Udine on the 22 July 1968 and is one of my favorite Italian actors, usually playing the supporting role to perfection. Battiston has 47  films behind him, many seen at International Film Festivals and often released overseas independently. Battiston was first seen outside Italy in Pane e Tulipane, Bread and Tulips directed by Silvio Soldini in 2000, winning him his first David di Donatello, it is fair to say he usually appear on the International Festival Circuit every year, he really is that good. Nominations; there are many David di Donatello’s sadly only two actualy awarded, not enough awards is all I have to say, will he get a third David this year for his superb craw to the crucifixion in La Passione, The Passion?  I really hope so and he should make room for next years David without doubt earned for his role in Notizie dagli sacvi directed by Emidio Greco 2010.

To follow is a very impressive list of films all of which has Battiston acting his socks off :
  • Italia – Germania 4-3 , Italy – Germany 4-3 directed by Andrea Barzini 1990
  • Un’anima divisa in due, A Soul Divided in Two directed by Silvio Soldini 1993
  • Le acrobate, Acrobats directed by Silvio Soldini 1997
  • Il pui lungo giorno directed by Roberto Riviello 1998
  • Cheidi se sono felice, Ask Me If I’m Happy directed by Aldo, Giovanni and Giacomo, Massimo Venier 2000
  • Guarda il cieli: Stella, Sonia, Silvia , Watch the Sky: Stella, Sonia, Silvia directed by Piergiorgio Gay 2000
  • Pane e tulipane, Bread and Tulips directed by Silvio Soldini 2000 WON a David di Donatello 
  • La forza del passato, The Power of the Past directed by Gianluca Greco 2002
  • Nemmeno in un sogno directed by Gianluca Greco 2002
  • Un aldo qualunque directted by Dario Migliardi 2002
  • Agata e la tempesta, Agata and the Storm directed by Silvio Soldini 2001   Nominated for a David di Donatello
  • L’uomo perfetto, The Perfect Man directed by Luca Lucini 2005
  • La bestia nel cuore, Don’t Tell  directed by Cristina Comencini 2005  Nominated for the Silver Ribbon
  • La tigre e la neve, The Tiger and the Snow directed by Roberto Benigni 2005
  • Apnea, directed by Roberto Dortit 2005
  • A casa nostra, Our Country directed by Francesca Comencini 2006
  • Non prendere impegni directed by Gianluca Maria Tavarelli 2006
  • Unu si due, One Out of Two directed by Eugenio Cappuccio 2006
  • Giorni e nuvole, Days and Clouds  directed by Silvio Soldini 2007  Nominated for a David di Donatello
  • La giusta distanza, The Right Distance directed by Carlo Mazzacurati 2007 WON Best Actor at the Rome Film Fest and Nominated for the Silver Ribbon
  • La fine del mare directed by Nora Hoppe 2007
  • c, Don’t Think About It  directed by Giannoi Zanasi 2008   WON a David di Donatello and Nominated for the Silver Ribbon
  • Amore, bugie e calcatto, Love, Soccer and Other Catastrophes directed by Luca Lucini  2008
  • Si puo fare, We Can Do That directed by Giulio Manfredonia 2008
  • Cosa voglio di piu,  Come Undone directed by Silvio Soldini 2010
  • La Passione, The Passion directed by Carlo Mazzacurati 2010 Nominated for a David di Donatello ( update 15.05.2011 He WON)
  • Notizie dagli sacvi,  directed by Emidio Greco 2010 YOU NEED THIS FILM AT YOUR FILM FESTIVAL
  • Figli delle stelle, Children of the stars directed by Lucio Pellegrini 2010
  • Senza arte ne’ parte, Make a Fake directed by Giovanni Albanese 2011 out in Italy on the 6th May 2011 , just cannot wait. WON “Le ciliegie d’oro del Cinema Italiano” at Le Cesera Palombara
  • Bar Sport, The Sports Bar directed by Massimo Martelli it is in post production and will be released as and when its ready.
  • Il comandante e la cicogna, The Commander and the Stork directed by Silvio Soldini is also in post production and will sadly not be released before 2012

Notizie degli scavi, News of the excavations (Possible English Title)

by Marianne Wi

Nothing in the title prepares you for this wonderful dialogue driven film, the synopsis given by could put you of all together. Man living in a brothel doing odd jobs, goes to a hospital visiting a prostitute, who has one failed suicide behind her. It was with some trepidation that I walked down the virtual red carpet, settling in row A 14 with my equally virtual lightly salted popcorn.

Director:  Emidio Greco, this 72 year old director has in the past won the prestigious Nastro d’argento for Best Screenplay in 1991 with “Una storia simplice”, “A Simple Story”. Greco directed and wrote the screenplay for “L’uomo privato” in 2007 however it never made the International market. I have very high hopes for  Notizie degli scavi, News of the Excavations  it is certainly one of my favorite Italian films seen in 2011.

Cast : Giuseppe Battiston, Ambra Angiolini, Iaia Forte, Giorgia Salari, Anna Paola Vellaccio, Francesca Fava

Synobsis : The Professor (Giuseppe Battiston) is working  as a live-in handyman in a brothel, sleeping on a foldout bed in the kitchen, he is not the sharpest tool in the box, there are psychological issues and his interpersonal skills are lacking, he wears white socks and brown sandals, nuf said. The Professor receives a call from a friend at another brothel asking him to visit The Marquise (Ambra Angiolini) in hospital telling her not to come back once released. The Marquise is recovering from a failed suicide attempt and had previously worked in The Professors current workplace, we follow a budding friendship between two fragile lonely people. The scene between The Professor and The Marquise on the hospital bed, when she ask him to visit again and his realisation that she actually wants him for himself, not because she has an errand for him to run is emotional and heartwarming. Battiston is simply awesome throughout and should be nominated for another David di Donatello next year, in fact he deserves a better award he really is in a class of his own, Ambra Angiolini’s portrayal of The Marquise was marvelous too. The scenes shot in Hadrian’s Villa, Tivoli are stunning, excellent cinematography and music makes great viewing. I loved this beautiful understated film that is Notizie degli scavi, News of the Excavations Italian cinema at its best.
08.06.2011 Update
So very pleased to hear that this film is being released back into the Italian Cinemas again, 26 copies to be exact. Whoop Whoop, it is a film not to be missed and it is beginning to win awards. 

Tokyo is kicking off their 11th Italian Film Festival

by Marianne Wi

東京都は、第11回イタリア映画祭のキックオフ Only jesting, this blog remains English. The Italian Film Festival in Tokyo is kicking-off tomorrow and will be running until the 4th May 2011. It is the 11th festival of its kind and has always proved very popular in the past. I am excited for the Japanese and cannot wait to see what they will make of Sergio Castellitto’s La bellezza del somaro, Love and Slaps. There are 12 titles being shown this year and 7 of those will be put on a train to Osaka for a 2 day Festival on the 8th to the 9th of May 2011.

I think you will agree that the program is varied and exciting; many Italians are now living the Japanese lifestyle no doubt it will be a sellout this year too. Remember to wear something smart when you go, as I am sure you are aware the Japanese are well ahead on the designer label front, and do stop marinating in you favorite cologne before leaving home, finally do not let the old Mama Italia down.

The films shown this year are:

Baciami ancora, Kiss Me Again directed by Gabriele Muccino

Figli delle stelle , Children of the Stars directed by Lucio Pellegrini

Il primo incarico, The First Assignment directed by Giorgia Cecere

L’ultimo bacio, The Last Kiss directed by Gabriele Muccino

La nostra vita , This is our Life directed by Daniele Luchetti

I baci mai dati, Lost Kisses directed by Roberta Torre

La bellezza del somaro, Love and Slaps directed by  Sergio Castellitto

La passione , The Passion directed by Carlo Mazzacurati

La prima cosa bella, The First Beautyful Thing directed by Paolo Virzì

Mine vaganti, Loose Cannons directed by Ferzan Ozpetek

Noi credevamo , We Once Believed directed by Mario Martone

Una vita tranquilla , A Quiet Life directed by Claudio Cupellini


Italian Cinema is playing for deaf ears.

by Marianne Wi

“Notizie degli scavi” , ” News of the Excavations” (Possible English Title) directed by Emidio Greco, due to be released on Friday the 29th of April, is making weaves. It will first be shown on on the 28th online with 500 virtual seats made available, a fact that makes me frankly want to sing an ode to the good people of freebies.

Now online cinema in Italy has gone that little bit further and will on the 29th April, the same day the film is released nationwide, also show it online for the deaf and hard of hearing. You will need to sign up with to watch the film for free. The agreement was made between the distribution company Movimento Films and Ente Nazionale Sordi , it will only be available on the night, I really hope this is only the beginning of many films to be shown. Good on them is all I have to say, a big step forward in a country where all foreign films is dubbed, leaving the deaf and hard of hearing with little choise at the Cinema.

Online Italian Films and they are legal


Il sesso aggiunto, Sex Added (Possible English Title)

by Marianne Wi

Director: This is Francesco Antonio Castaldo’s first feature, there is little to no information about him on the web right now except for his age 53 and the fact that he has two teenage children. Castaldo has now found the courage and money to direct this film based on his own experiences as a 25 year old, when he shared a flat with friends and a heroine addicted girlfriend. This film is not just about drugs it is a love story set in a 70s addicted ambience, less squalid than I would have expected, yes Alan steals from his mother, put his fist through her kitchen cupboard, has anger issues, has sex with a male drug dealer in exchange for drugs (a scene that will upset the good folk of Italy, already upset by an IKEA advert showing two men holding hands) he steals and he cheats too however on the whole this is about middle class addiction not dirty mattresses in dark drug dens. The casting of Giuseppe Zeno by Rita Forzano was an error that ruined the film for me, Zeno is a 35 year old actor cast in the role of Alan who must be early to mid 20s, he looks a very handsome 35 plus, making him too old next to his father and certainly much to old next to his little football playing brother, I originally thought his brother was his young son taken away from him due to addiction; another film perhaps?. The music was excellent as can be expected from Nicola Piovani, he wrote the score and won an Oscar for the music to La vita e bella, Life is beautiful directed by Roberto Benigni. The cinematography was great, the story solid, generally a good watch.

Cast: Giuseppe Zeno, Myriam Catania, Valentina D’Agostino, Cloris Brosca, Lino Guanciale, Gigi Savoia, Vlaerio Miduri

Synobsis: Alan (Giuseppe Zeno) is a drug addict who lives for his next fix, very much at the mercy of his own fragility, we follow him and his girlfriend Laura (Valentina D’Agostino) in a world of dependency and adiction, their daily routine, it is not just about drugs this is also a love story. We watch Alan’s relationship with a father (Gigi Savoia) who totally rejects him, Alan’s longing for contact with him is touching. We watch too the abusive relationship he has with his mother (Cloris Brosca) who by giving him cash to buy drugs “It will make you feel better” aids and abets his dependency, the relationship with drug dealers and close friends are all well told. Alan goes down the path of self-psychoanalysis trying to find himself, God, Love anything that will allow him to leave the dependency behind. A warning as Castaldo mentioned in an interview to young people about the dangers and sad life of any dependency.


Happy Easter, Buona pasqua

by Marianne Wi


Beijing International Film Festival is kicking off

by Marianne Wi

The first Beijing Film Festival is kicking off today and will run untill the 28th April 2011, it has created much excitement in China and all eyes are on the Chinese Government’s Censorship Board and their morally driven editing skills. A scene from Cinema Paradiso directed by Giueseppe Tornatore springs to mind, when our priest censored all films screaming “cut” only after he had seen a kiss, once considered an offencive scene in Italy. Two films in particular are coursing a stir in China, Black Swan directed by Darren Aronofsky it has an explicit lesbian sex scene, a big taboo in China today, as the scene is paramount to the storyline it will be interesting to see if cut, how much and where. Social Network directed by David Fincher is also on the list of foreign films, as Facebook is banned in China it is bound to be a sell out, the Chinese commonly refer to Mark Zuckerberg as “the founder of 404 Error: Not Found” (an urban myth in the making ?). There are 160 films shown from 42 participating countries including 4 from Italy. The opening night will be held at The National Grand Theatre, Tiananmen Square a historical hot spot in need to some good news.

The 4 Italian entries are :

Sorelle Mai, Sisters Mai directed by Marco Bellocchio 2010

La solitudine dei numeri primi, The Solitude of Prime Numbers directed by  Xavier Costanzo 2010

L’uomo che verra, The Man Who Will Come directed by Giorgio Diritti 2009

Puccini e la fanciulla, Puccini and the Girl directed by Paolo Benvenuti and Paola Baroni 2008

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