Ermanno Olmi one of Italy’s Great Directors has come of age.

by Marianne Wi

Ermanno Olmi was born on the 24th July 1931 in Bergamo, he was celebrating his 80th birthday yesterday Hip Hip Hurrah! Olmi is a prolific director who over the years has amassed 79 titles, not just feature films but also documentaries and shorts. My all time favourite film directed by Olmi is L’albero degli zoccoli – The Tree of Wooden Clogs (1978)  a film that to this very day can make me reach for a hanky, yes I was raised wearing wooden clogs, what of it ? As a matter of fact I still have 2 pairs of Wooden Clogs one red and one blue pair, made of wood not for me the joy of light rubber soles.

Olmi has not been resting on his laurels over the past 12 months, he will be appearing at this year’s 68th International Film Festival in Venice in Un foglio bianco, A White Sheet directed by Maurizio Zaccaro a documentary also starring Michael Lonsdale and Rutger Hauer. His new film The Cardboard Village is still in Post-production due to be released this autumn, he has been keeping busy since Centrochiodi, One Hundred Nails released in 2007 by directing a varity of  TV documentaries.

Top Ten Italian Film Directors


68th Venice International Film Festival has gone Italian.

by Marianne Wi

The list of Italian entries in the 68th International Film Festival in Venice ”Controcampo Italiano” have been publicised and I am trying to get the momentum up by hitting the accelerator with a vengeance. If you are looking to see the latest films produced in Italy you usually need to look to the big International Film Festivals such as London and dare I say it Moscow for a sizeable portion of films, both did us ever so proud during their last season, you will also do well checking out the Italian Film Festivals both in the UK, Australia and the States, the place to look last is inevitable Italy, where you will need to have the patience of a least two Saints one will just not do, Italian distributed is in a class of its own. Venice this year has gone all out with 7 new feature films, 6 documentaries and 7 shorts, they will all premier and they will all be in competition so I believe although that seem a bit exaggerated; let’s wait and see. There are also a number of interesting events not to be missed such as UN foglio bianco, A White Sheet directed by Maurizio Zaccaro, exciting stuff.

The 7 feature films are :

Scialla, Hello there (possible English title) directed by Francesco Bruni, it is his first feature with a great cast Fabrizio Bentivoglio, Barbora Bobulova, Filippo Scicchitano, Vinicio Marchioni, Giuseppe Guarino, Prince Manujibeya. We have a sad depressed professor and a teenager with trouble on his mind.

Maternity Blues directed by Fabrizio Cattani, here again an interesting cast in the shape of Andrea Osvart, Monica Birladeanu, Chiara Martegiani Marina Pennafina, Daniele Pecci, Pascal Zullino. Maternity Blues, I am hoping the title is giving it away.

Qualche nuvola, Some Clouds directed by Saverio di Biagio his very first feature staring Elio Germano with a great line-up Greta Scarano, Michele Alhaique, Primo Reggiani, Giorgio Colangeli, Aylin Prandi.

Cose dell’altro mondo, Things of this world directed by Francesco Patierno he too has a great cast  Diego Abatantuono, Valerio Mastandrea, Valentina Lodovini, Sandra Collodel, Grazia Schiavo, Maurizio Donadoni.

Cavalli, Horses directed by Michele Rho again a first feature about horses, I am risking my reputation on this as there are little to nothing on the net about this film. Cast: Vinicio Marchioni, Michele Alhaique, Giulia Michelini, Thomas Trabacchi, Asia Argento, Andrea Occhipinti.

Tutta colpa della musica, Blame the Music directed by Ricky Tognazzi, I guess this is the one to keep your eye on, a star line-up if I ever saw one. Stefania Sandrelli, Ricky Tognazzi, Marco Messeri, Elena Sofia Ricci, Debora Villa, Monica Scattini.

L’arrivo di Wang, directed by Manetti Brothres  starring Ennio Fantastichini e Francesca Cuttica a psychological fantasy-sci film.

The 6 Documentaries are :

Black Blok directed by Carlo Augusto Blacksmidt his very first.

Piazza Garibaldi directed by Davide Ferrario this doc has a number of well know stars, one not to be missed if you like me just love Luciana Littizzetto.

Pugni chiusi, Closed Fists directed by Fiorella Infascelli.

Out of Tehran directed by Monica Maggioni.

Pasta nera, Black Pasta directed by Alessandro Piva.

Quiproquo directed by Elisabetta Sgarbi again on to keep an eye on as it has a number of well know stars Franco Battiato, Nicoletta Braschi, Umberto Eco, Andrea Renzi.

The 7 Shorts are:

Il maestro, The Master directed by Maria Grazia Cucinotta staring Renato Scarpa and Giselda Volodi. I want to see this one her first venture off screen.

A chjàna directed by Jonas Carpignano staring Koudous Seihun and Cheik Baily Kane.

Alice directed by Roberto de Paolis staring  Giulia Bevilacqua and Edoardo Pesce.

The Cricket directed by Stefano Lorenzi staring Birol Ünel and Edoardo Gabriellini.

Eco da luogo colpito, Echo from the Accected Area directed by Carlo Michele Schirinzi staring  Francesca Cazzato and Matteo Fachechi.

Prove per un naufragio della parola,  Testing the Word of a Shipwrecked directed by Elisabetta Sgarbi staring Fabrizio Gifuni and Sonia Bergamasco.

My Name is Sid directed by Giovanni Virgilo staring Alessio Vassallo, Liborio Natalia.

Special Events Screenings:

La Tratta, Trafficing directed by Barbara Cupisti a documentary.

Clado grigio, clado nero – Hot Grey, Hot Black directed by Marco Dentici a documentary.

Rudolf Jacobs, l’uomo che nacque morendo, The Man That Was Born Dying directed by Luigi M Faccini, staring Marina Piperno, Carlo Prussiani and Alessandro Cecchinelli this is a docu-fiction.

Andata e ritorno, Round trip directed by one of my favorit actersses Donatella Finocchiaro her first stab at directing a documentery.

Dai nostri inviati – La RAI racconta la Mostra del cinema 1968 – 1979, From our Correspondents – RAI tells the Venice Film Festival 1968 – 1979 directed by Giuseppe Giannotti, Enrico Salcatori and Davide Savelli. Documentary. 

Pivano Blues – Sulla strada di Nanda, Pivano Blues, On the Road to Nanda directed by Teresa Marchesi staring some great musiocisians Fernanda Pivano, Patti Smith, Vasco Rossi, Luciano Ligabue one not to miss.

Schuberth – L’atelier della dolce vita, Schuberth – and the Workshop of  the sweet life directed by Antonello Sarno. Documentery.

Hollywood Invasion directed by Marco Spagnoli. Documentary.

Un foglio bianco, A White Sheet directed by Maurizio Zaccaro a documentary staring Ermanno Olmi, Michael Lonsdale and Rutger Hauer.

There are 2 Italian films entered for ”International Film Critics  Week”  this year too, they are Là-bas by Guido Lombardi a sad story about immigration and the massacre at Castel Volturno in 2008, it has been a long time in the making as it is in French and English with subtitles, no dubbing? The second film Mission Peace directed by Fracesco Lagi a comedy filmed in the former Yugoslavia staring Silvio Orlando playing an Army Captian struggling with his pacifist son after capturing a war criminal. Fracesco Lagi said about this film  “The idea was to use comedy to talk about things dramatic, current and burning. I wanted to look at the issue of military missions abroad, but also on family, a war on and off with the two characters in conflict yet intertwined ”  I so want to see these two films……….
Films in competition for the ‘Critics  Week” are:
Opening Film  – Stockholm Ostra directed by Simon Kaijser da Silva (Sweden)
El-field directed by Hernan Belon (Argentina)
El de los machetes linguaje directed by Kyzza Terrazas (Mexico)
Là-bas directed by Guido Lombardi (Italy)
The land of  outragée directed by Michale Boganim (France-Ukraine)
Louise Wimmer directed by Cyril Mennegun (France)
Merécages directed by Edoin-Guy (Canada)
Totem directed by Jessica Krummacher (Germany)
Closing Film – Peace Mission directed by Francesco Lagi (Italy).
The International Art Section with 3 Italian entries :
Quando la notte, When the Night directed by Cristina Comencini starring Claudia Pandolfi and Filippo Timi.
Terraferma, Mainland directed by Emanuele Crialese starring Donatella Finocchiaro and Beppe Fiorello.
L’ultimo terrestre, The Lasy Earth directed by catroonish Gipi.

Out of competition in this section will be Scossa, Shock directed by Citto Maselli, Carlo Lizzani, Ugo Gregoretti e Nino Russo

Il villaggio di  Cartone, The Carboard Village directed by Ermanno Olmi

Finally a short Venice 2011 directed by Pietro Marcello Marco Bellocchio

Marco Bellocchio to receive Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement 10.05.2011


A Star is born! Bop Decameron, Bella Ciao!

by Marianne Wi

Woody Allen is making headline news while shooting in the historic centre of Rome. The star of the shoot yesterday was our loveable traffic cop Pierluigi Marchionne, who no doubt is hoping for financial recognition somewhere along the line, although being an extra in Italy is considered an unpaid honor, I think Marchionne might be looking for something more substantial. Allen had watched Marchionne in action some days earlier and had insisted on the real thing being in his new film, it was not originally in the script. Rome, Piazza Venezia is an exciting place unless you are on foot or on a push bike, to be safe you will do well sitting in an armoured car with a police escort. The traffic in Rome is fast and furious during the day and as a traffic cop you need lungs of steel and a good whistle, they can give the Sicilian Granita Van a run for their money, they use the same tools of the trade to attract attention. Pierluigi Marchionne is a 37 year old Italian from Latina, a town purpose build by Benito Mussolini in the mid 1930s, it leaves little to the imagination and Marchionne escaped to Rome working for the Polizia Municipale (Italian Traffic Police) for a number of years, during a short interview with an excited Marchionne he said ”I had to be the director of traffic, the director of the various scenes meeting at the Piazza, I never in my life expected this” no doubt he will be seeing a lot more traffic at the Piazza from now on, with the amount of local tourism he will be generating. Marchionne was spoken to by Woody Allen in English at all times, not a problem for our man in white as he use to be in the “Foreign Trade” …….. Allen is a hands on director speaking with Marchionne throughout the 8 takes lasting 1.30 hours, there may be more takes in Piazza Venetzia chaps.


Why is Italian Cinema Hibernating During the Summer?

by Marianne Wi

If you are passionate about Italian films and everything to do with the Italian Film Industry, you will be climbing the walls heading for a proverbial breakdown during these hot summer months, there are few Italian films being released from June onwards, non on the horizon in fact before October; films are being short during the summer so at least some news are leaking out, of course, it is winter in Oz so various splendid Festivals are on the horizon, yet it is the bikini clad actresses and Italian stallions in their speedos, prancing on a beach keeping an ever watchful eye on the Paparazzi, not wanting to miss their chance to be in Diva e Donna or CHI magazine, that we are left with for a daily update. I have done my research, you would expect nothing else, right? the resounding excuse is ”it is too hot to go to the Cinema during the summer months”. What a load of old tosh, Italy is full of stunning open air cinemas and even air-conditioning has arrived in the boot, so you can watch a film in the cool comfort of a snug screening room. ”Nooooo, Italians would not want to see any new films while on holiday”…… Tell that to JK Rowling and Harry Potter, they have opened to full houses and have taken more than 10 million in Italy during its first 6 days, Transformer 3 has taken 7.5 million since the 01.07.2011 and the 3rd placed film Cars 2 has taken 9.5million since the 24.06.2011. Italians will go to the Cinema no matter what the month of the year, they have kids needing entertainment even if the sun does shine every day for 3 months. So please distributors of Italian films can we see some releases between June and September 2012 please, your public awaits you.

L’Isola del Cinema, a must if you are in Rome this summer

Casa del Cinema (Rome)


5 (Cinque)

by Marianne Wi

Director : It is Francesco Dominedo first feature, he has previously appeared in a number of TV films here in Italy, will this film be his opening onto the International Film Festival Circuit? That is the million dollar question, as Italian films goes it is not bad, the editing is good, the camara work is well above average, usually the two immediate obstacles for success. The story line ? Well, there are so many sub stories going down, that you will need to be on full alert throughout. Matteo Branciamore (Manolo) was seen for the first time outside The Cesarone, he has turned ”BAD”. Also very good acting from the other 4, known for their TV work, so why am I not excited? Dominedo has tried to compete with the American Gangster Movies and although he often hits the spot, he fails overall possibly because of a low budget, it was released into only 5 cinemas in Italy so has not had a good start in life.

Cast: Matteo Branciamore, Stefano Sammarco, Christian Marazziti, Rolando Ravello, Alessandro Borghi, Lito Vitale, Massimo Bonetti, Angelo Orlando, Giorgia Wurth, Franscesco Arca, Francesco Venditti, Cladua Zanella, Loredana sofizi, Alessandro Tersigni.

Synobsis:  We find our group of 5 in Quarticcilo east, a Roman suburb that lends itself perfectly to petty crime. Our 5 friends have all been to the same correction center or ”riformatorio” reformatory center, where they have served time for their senseless crimes. Our little group grow up, get married leading lives of petty crime until they decide to hit the big time with a large robbery… it worked and there was a bonus in the shape of a briefcase…… belonging the The Russian Mafia in Rome…..it is all very much downhill from there, as the 5 begin their fight for survival.


Rocco Papaleo, a big resounding ”NO” to Woody Allen

by Marianne Wi

Yep, our much-loved Italian actor Rocco Papaleo has no time for Woody Allen this August, Papaleo did the screen test and was offered a role in Woody Allen’s new film Bella Ciao, Bop Decameron or ? currently shooting in Rome. You will know this Italian as the director and screenwriter of Basilicata Coast to Coast and his latest role as an actor in Nessuno mi puo giudicare, No One Can Judge Me directed by Massimiliano Bruno. Has this usually down to earth actor Papaleo gone all arrogant on us this summer ? No, not at all Woody Allen’s production team was not able to give him and exact filming date he was asked to keep all of August free, Papaleo had promised his son a holiday in August so had to turn Allen down, that is what I call a family man, if Italy does not have a ”Father of the Year Award”  I think it is time they did, we have a clear winner.

Allen has started shooting in Rome and although the name of the film is still up in the air it seems to be going well. What exactly Benigni and Scamarcio are doing in the same film is beyond me and Benigni…. I should not wonder. Perhaps they will not be in the same story line, cannot wait to see the outcome either way. Below a list of possible stars, could change a short notice.

State side: Woody Allan, Alec Baldwin, Penelope Cruz, Judy Davis, Ellen Page, Greta Gerwig and the lovely Jesse Eisenberg

Home front: Roberto Benigni, Antonio Albernese, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ornella Mutti, Alessandro Tiberi, Alison Pill, Flavio Parenti, Alessandra Mastronardi and our opera singer Fabio Armiliato


Hunziker and Federico it is back on ? The Lates.

by Marianne Wi

Mamma Mia, as unemployment goes this was a very short lay off for the Neo-Nazi Federico, 4 days all in all if Das Bild is anything to go by. Having not been convinced that Federico was more than just a bodyguard to Hunziker up till now, I bow my head in shame as she has taken him back ignoring his leaning towards ”White Power”, as bodyguards are a dime a dozen, it can now safely be assumed that Hunziker is more than a job to Federico, without getting smutty. The tune and images of Costner and Houston is coming back to haunt me ” I will always love you ” yes right…Hunziker it was a film, it is never going to have a happy ending; let him go. I would not be surprised to see ” The Bodyguard” directed by Mick Jackson being on top of Hunziker’s best ever film list. Federico has not had time for laser treatment so the clenched fist portraying White Power has been turned into a blushing red rose ahhhh so very sweet. Perhaps the name ”M H & F the bodyguard” may have been added on a small part of his anatomy to seal the next couple of months employment, lets wait for the inevitable beach photos. CHI issue 30 has a great spread of photos of Hunziker and the headline “” My Holiday as a Single” lots of photos of La Hunziker swimming alone or with her daughter Aurora having fun taking photos of the paparazzi, such frivolity, the cheek of it.

Hunziker and Federico it is off 15.07.11


New Zealand International Film Festival has kicked off

by Marianne Wi

New Zealand International Film Festival is a bit of an odd ball, you need to think Country rather than City, it kicked off on the 14th July 2011 in Auckland and will be travelling coast to coast until the 20th November 2011 when it draws its final breath in Kerikeri. There are a number of films from Italy, so we cannot complain although if you feel so inclined, why not have a quiet sulk, I am, as there are 2 films I have not even heard of uhmmm.

The Italian Films screened are:

La dolce vita directed by Federico Fellini 1960 (Italy)

Le quattro volte, The Four Times directed by Michelangelo Frammartino 2010 (Switzerland, Italy, Germany)

Passione, Passion directed by John Turturro 2010 (Italy, USA)

Gianni e le donne, The Salt of Life directed by Gianni di Gregorio 2011 (Italy)

La solitudine dei numeri primi, The Solitude of Prime numbers directed by Saverio Costanzo 2010 (Italy)

Il ragazzo con il biciletta, The Kid With a Bike directed by  Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne 2011 (France, Italy)

The Forgiveness of Blood directed by Joshua Marston 2011 ( Albania, Denmark, Italy and the USA)

My Reincarnation directed by Jennifer Fox 2010 Documentary (Germany, Switzerland, Italy, USA, The Netherlands)

OK, so we have 3 pure Italian entries and a number of co-productions, the two films not to me missed are The Kid with the Bike and The Salt of Life, of course you must see The Four Times if you are into old goats, the latter is bound to win awards galore during its travels around New Zealand, they have a love for sheep, producing some of the best lamb you can get in the world, they will be vaxing lyrics over ” The Four Times” mark my words.

Dress code in NZ is relaxed to the point of scruffiness, let’s be honest so although there is no great need to spend hours getting ready, it does not harm to make a little effort before leaving home.  Again, a word to the wise, they tend to drink their beer out of a ”tinnie”, trust me there is no shame in asking for a glass, it may be plastic so try to keep that stiff upper lip and ”fai finta” manners never harmed anyone. This festival is exciting as it takes in 14 cities so do try to make some effort here, lets see the local Italian population out waving the tricolor.


Elisabetta Canalis, George WHO ?

by Marianne Wi

Elizabetta Canalis, who recently split from our aging, yet adorable love-boat George Clooney, has been living it up in Positano with her ”close” friend Angelo Vita from Naples, the Italian press are willing them on looking for a hot romance to mess with Clooney’s head. Actually, we are all feeling the heat and are all a bit jaded so any kind of showmance would be super duper, there are no Italian films at the cinemas in Italy during the summer months so lets see some action on the beaches. Great photos from CHI issue 29 as always.


Noi credevamo, We once believed special screening on RAI

by Marianne Wi

Noi credevamo, We Once Beleived directed by Mario Martone will be shown on RAI TV this very September 2011 over two evenings. I always thought this very long film should have gone straight to DVD or be shown on TV in its full glory of 3 hours and 24 minutes, I hope Martone will reinstate the 34 minutes he cut from the cinema version, that might improve the general state of the editing. Once shown on RAI it is very likely to be passed to the ”on demand” section which can be seen all over the world. I shall keep them peeled for you.

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