For better or worse, I live near Cleveland, Ohio, and so the Cleveland International Film Festival is my film festival. Yesterday they published the lineup and once again, I am disappointed by the Italian selections. I really wish I understood how they are made – it’s probably a more difficult process that I imagine, but c’mon! Immaturi? (Immature) That’s a movie to showcase Italian cinema? It’s kind of like sending Adam Sandler’s Jack and Jill to the Venice Film Festival. Immaturi is not horrible, but it’s a very fluffy comedy about 30-somethings that find out that through a technicality, they did not graduate from high school and need to take final exams again. I didn’t hate it, but it’s not the kind of movie that will convince America that there is a rebirth in the Italian film industry.
Oh, and A Perfect Life? (La Vita Facile) I have this one but haven’t bothered to watch it yet – by all accounts it was just awful and did dismally at the Italian box office.
The good news is that they will be showing The Salt of Life (Gianni e le donne), one of my favorites from last year, and also Corpo Celeste, from Alice Rohrwacher (Alba’s sister), who was awarded best new director by the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists for this film. I’ve been dying to see it and I tried to order it, but it mysteriously disappeared from the ibs.itstock and when I wrote inquiring after it they acted like they’d never heard of it before. Corpo Celeste (heavenly body) is about thirteen year-old Marta who has recently moved back to southern Italy with her mother and older sister and struggles to find her place, restlessly testing the boundaries of an unfamiliar city and the catechism of the Catholic church.
Here’s the entire list of Italian movies being shown this year – The festival runs March 22 to April 1 so join me in Cleveland if you can.
Apartment in Athens (Appartamento ad Atene) ITALY | Directed by Ruggero Dipaola | Running time: 95 minutes Friday, March 23 | 11:45 AM – Sunday, March 25 | 9:00 PM, Monday, March 26 | 2:30 PM.
Set in 1942 Athens, a war ravaged Greek family is forced to host a high-ranking Nazi officer. Their home, already weakened by the death of their eldest son and the ever-present pangs of hunger in wartime, is thrown into upheaval as they endeavor to satisfy the exacting demands of their unwelcome border.
Corpo Celeste ITALY, FRANCE | Directed by Alice Rohrwacher | Running time: 98 minutes Saturday, March 24 | 10:30 AM. Sunday, March 25 | 6:25 PM.
Marta, almost 13, has just moved with her bossy older sister and her overworked mother from Switzerland to gritty Calabria, Italy. On the cusp of growing up, Marta tries to make sense of her new world where Catholicism plays a huge role—at least on the surface.
Immature (Immaturi) ITALY | Directed by Paolo Genovese | Running time: 108 minutes Sunday, March 25 | 1:50 PM. Monday, March 26 | 4:00 PM. Tuesday, March 27 | 9:15 AM. IMMATURE is a feel-good ensemble comedy that brings together a group of classmates 20 years after secondary school graduation. Except the former friends haven’t graduated after all; the authorities have determined their final exams were flawed, so now they’ll need to retake them.
My Bow Breathing (Il respiro dell’arco) Italy | Directed by Enrico Maria Artale | Running time: 10 minutes A girl tries to attune her breathing to the movements of her bow, arrow after arrow. But her sporting talent hides her need to retrieve a primitive, violent instinct, an archetype.
The Perfect Life (La vita facile) ITALY | Directed by Lucio Pellegrini | Running time: 102 minutes Saturday, March 31 | 6:45 PM. Sunday, April 1 | 11:25 AM. A charming Italian comedy with an unexpected twist, THE PERFECT LIFE follows the love triangle of two contradictory doctors with a shared past and the woman they fight over. Luca is a down-to-earth humanitarian physician who left Italy nine years earlier to start a small hospital in a remote Kenyan village.
The Salt of Life (Gianni E Le Donne) ITALY | Directed by Gianni Di Gregorio | Running time: 90 minutes Friday, March 30 | 4:20 PM. Saturday, March 31 | 5:45 PM.
Sad-eyed Gianni from 2010’s “Mid-August Lunch” is back in THE SALT OF LIFE, a charming portrayal of an aging house-husband’s search for love. Gianni’s retirement is slipping tediously by while he performs an unending laundry list of services for the ladies in his life.