Cinema Bellissimo: Italian Cinema in London 2019

Review by Dr Khalid Ali, film and media correspondent

A still from ‘The bicycle thief’ (Vittorio De Sica, 1948).

Italian cinema has always had a special place in world cinema; the neo-realist wave of film-making led by directors Federico Fellini, Luchino Visconti, and Roberto Rossellini told stories of the Italian working-class facing poverty, social injustice and oppression. Classic films like ‘The bicycle thief’ (Vittorio De Sica, 1948) warmed the hearts of European and international audiences alike. Iconic legends Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni acting together in films such as ‘Yesterday, today and tomorrow’ (Vittorio De Sica, 1963), ‘Marriage Italian style’ (Vittorio De Sica, 1964), and ‘A special day’ (Ettore Scola, 1977) enjoyed rapturous worldwide reception. Modern classics ‘Cinema Paradiso’ (Giuseppe Tornatore, 1988), and ‘Life is beautiful’ (Roberto Benigni, 1997) continued the reign of Italian cinema in international circuits.


Poster of ‘Cinema Paradiso’ (Giuseppe Tornatore, 1988).

In its ninth edition, ‘Cinema made in Italy’ brings the magic of Italian cinema to London by screening ten superb films from 26th February to 3rd March:

Watch the trailer on Youtube:

The program showcases the best of contemporary Italian cinema spearheaded by new voices and talent alongside established auteurs.

Human suffering from mental illness and alcohol addiction is the heart-breaking core of ‘Wherever you are’ (Bonifacio Angius); a road journey travelled by a middle aged alcoholic man trying to save a woman and her young son from a bleak future. The last shot of this beautiful film portraying ‘peer support between patients, empathy, and sacrifice’ is a master scene that will linger in the hearts and minds of viewers for a long time.

Dealing with terminal illness and how family members face up to or pretend to ignore the impending death of a loved one is the theme of Valeria Golino’s poignant drama ‘Euforia’. The life of a school teacher is in turmoil after a diagnosis of a ‘brain cyst’; his mother, brother, wife, son and mistress all deal with that ‘diagnosis’ in a different way.

Italian politics, organizational corruption, and the alienation of the middle classes are seen in three films: ‘Loro’ (Paolo Sorrentino) follows the media tycoon and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his entourage between 20062009, ‘Lucia’s grace’ (Gianni Zanasi) tells the story of a land surveyor facing corrupt local government using non-orthodox methods, while ‘The man who bought the moon’ (Paolo Zucca) adopts a satirical approach to explore an unlikely friendship between two men from the village of Sardinia.

Love and its shenanigans in contemporary Italy are seen in three films: ‘Ricordi’ (Valerio Mieli), ‘The guest’ (Duccio Chiarini), and ‘We’ll be young and beautiful’ (Letizia Lamartire). Each film explores a different form of love: romantic, platonic and filial.

The legacy of the late director Bernardo Bertulocci is remembered through his film ‘The conformist’ (1970); a story weaving childhood trauma, drug addiction, mental illness and criminal tendencies with a backdrop featuring the art and décor of Mussolini’s fascist era.

One of the festival highlights, a must-see for cinephiles is ‘Notti Magiche-Magical nights’; described by Adrian Wootton (programmer and artistic director of the festival) as “Paolo Virzi’s wonderfully playful and affectionate movie-movie satire gleefully looks back at the last glory days of classic Italian cinema”.

If you are looking for a different, thought-provoking type of film, whether that is drama, comedy, or a political thriller, ‘Cinema made in Italy’ can definitely satisfy your taste.

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