Cinecitta, is there a real risk of closure ?

by Marianne Wi

The press in Italy is full of depressing news about Cinecitta the famous film studies in Rome. It was in its heyday (1950,1960) the playground of many great Italian Directors also American Directors arrived to shoot their films here, as it was cheap and had on site experienced staff. Who can forget Roman Holiday, Three Coins in the Fountain, Ben Hur, Quo Vadis and of course Cleopatra staring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton while they were courting. The Italian Director Fellini refered to it as his ” Perfect Home”.

Cinecitta was privatised back in the mid 1990 often the beginning of the end for many organisations, also film producers including the Italian lot have moved and taken their budgets to countries such as Turkey, Hungary and Budapest at a saving of more than 20 % something most producers cannot ignore.

The National Film Archives are kept at Cinecitta, they originally had a large amount of funding from the government, they have seen it cut from 29 million Euros to less than 5 million Euros over the past decade, Roberto Benigni has been on national TV expressing his horror too  and I quote “That’s our memory, our history. How can you shot down history?” one of many outbursts, as the archives are no longer being maintained. The Italian Constitutional Affairs and Budget committees has recently agreed to an increase in the price of Cinema tickets of 1 Euro hoping that will help fund the industry. I am more likely to think the attendance will drop and illegal downloads will escalate.

There has been talk of an amusement park, on a plot next to Cinecitta on land previously owned by the Italian film director Dino di Laurentiis. A Tivoli so to speak with some sets designed by Dante Ferretti, there will also be Hotels, a little like a Disney Theme Park, not much is being written about it now, so this may be a white elephant.




Mario Monicelli honored at LA Italian Film Festival

by Marianne Wi

Los Angeles Italian Film Festival will on the 25th February honor the great Italian Director and Screenwriter Mario Monicelli, who on the 29th of November 2010 leaped from his hospital window in Rome committing suicide at the age of 95. He had been admitted to hospital some days previously and was being treated for Prostrate Cancer.


Monicelli was since the 40s a major influence on the Italian Film Industry , he was dubbed the “father of Italian comedy” for directing films such as Amici Miei (My Dear Friends) and I Soliti Ignoti (Persons Unknown – Big Deal on Madonna Street ) a big void is being left for sure. I am so please to see Los Angeles Italian FIlm Industry honoring this big man with the showing of “Big Deal on Madonna Street” on the 25.02.11 at 10.00 as I fear due to the circumstances of his death, he will now be largely ignored by his Roman Catholic countrymen. Monicelli looked at his compatriots with love, and at Silvio Berlusconi with anger. Lets rejoice in the fact that he did not see the latest antics of Berlusconi dubiously managing to survive a no-confidence vote in parliament and the running of brothels in Milan ( Well, if you put young women in free housing and use them for sex, that constitutes brothel keeping, right ?).

Many quotes have been made since his death all positive , here are some of them for you:

President Giorgio Napolitano said he would be “remembered by millions of Italians for the way he moved them, for how he made them laugh and reflect”.

Director Giovanni Veronese said, “Monicelli was my Fellini”.

Politician, writer and former Mayor of Rome Walter Veltroni said that Mario Monicelli was an extraordinary man who carried his 95 years with a strong sense of irony. Mr Veltroni said that the director had become the “grand old man” of Italian cinema against his will.

Actor and director Michele Placido said that we should respect his decision to die.

My five top films Directed by Mario Monicelli:

Un Borghese piccolo piccolo – A very little Man

Amici Miei – My Dear Friends

Casanova 70

I Soliti Ignoti  – UK Persons Unknown – USA  Big deal on Madonna Street.

Padri e Figlie

Toto cerca casa  all Toto’s film really.

Yes I know that is six, he really was that good , difficult to choose .


COURTESY OF  wikipedia






Subtitles are important !

by Marianne Wi

In Italy all films and programmes are dubbed, it is extremely rare to watch a film on TV or in the cinema with subtitles. I really wish this was not so, watching Brad Pitt speaking with a high pitch voice in one film and a deep tenor in another is distracting to say the least. Living here now, as I am lucky enough to do full-time, I have had to forgo the joy of watching an American or English film unless the actors are unknown to me. I did recently catch up with the much acclaimed “The King’s Speech” starring the now BAFTA and Oscar winner Colin Firth, I am reluctant to admit that after a certain length of time, I did forget that it was not Colin Firth speaking and the speech did often match the movement of his mouth….. Using the term “often’’ loosely.

My pet hate has always been the careless way Italian filmmakers slap on subtitles more and less as an afterthought once the film has been produced. While living in London I often walked out mid film if the subtitles were too offensive. One such example was Romanzo Criminale, A Criminal Novel directed by Michele Placido, in fact I walked out with Placido and I returned for the Q&A with him, I was informed that as a director he was not responsible for the subtitles HA X 2 I am sure if he made enough fuss, something would be done.

I have had many discussions with Directors and Producers about this subject; I have indeed written numerous letters to Cinecitta Luce, Medusa, 01 Distribution, Rai  and Iris trying to encourage good subtitling, is the Italian Film Industry taking any notice of Primociak? No is the answer  NOT YET.

The film La Vita e bella, Life is beautiful has perfect subtitles, not a trace of slang made it onto our screens, it won Roberto Benigni 3 Oscars, cinema gold those moments in Hollywood, with Roberto on the chair….. had me wiping away tears of joy,  his follow-up apology for running out of English when he won best Actor ( first foreign actor ever to do that ), as he had not planned 3 speeches was cute too.

Perhaps all producers should sit and read a few films before actually producing any, if I worked for a film festival and was sent hundreds of films to watch; it would hit the “return to sender” box after 10 minutes if I was struggling to understand the subtitles. The biggest mistake are films made with Italian actors who speak in a local accent such as Romanzo Criminale, the gang spoke in a strong roman accent throughout, in an attempt to pass that across to the foreign viewers, we were treated to gimmi, gonna, gotta, cos’of, dammi, lemmi and other London slang, we had to sit for nearly 2 hours READING a London accent just because the gang spoke Roman….Does that makes sense to you?

La vita e bella , Life is beautiful; I would like to think 100% perfect subtitles played some small part in making this film such a great success outside Italy.

Three clips for you from Italy’s biggest Oscar success ever, that is what I call generous. The 3rd Oscar was for Best Music, Original Dramatic Score by Nicola Piovani  ( I was not able to find a clip from this without the whole run up.)


Cinema tickets up by 1 Euro !

by Marianne Wi

The “Constitutional Affairs and Budget committees “have just approved an amendment to reinstate tax on cinema tickets in Italy.

Can you believe that ? In the middle of an economical crises , where culture inevitably takes second place , it has been agreed to make life even more expensive for families to have a day out with their children……. There is an exception folks , the good people in the government has agreed that this 1 EURO tax does not apply to films shown in Church Halls Yahoo, great news I think you will agree ?

This new amendment to the tax laws will be active from the  1 July 2011 to 31 December 2013 , when no doubt it will doubled.

The estimated income from this surtax would bring in € 45 million in 2011 and 90 million in 2012-2013 IN  theory the money collected will be used to  finance tax cuts for the Italian cinema. Yes, of course !

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