If you are an Italian language teacher and are looking for Italian films for your class, try these, perfect for young adults.
1) Alì Ha Gli Occhi Azzurri (Alì Blue Eyes) is about immigration, a big issue in today’s Italy and that’s been reflected in lots of films, but this film tells a story even more complicated and with more layers. It’s a story that should be of interest even to Americans with our country almost entirely made of immigrants and yet never really wanting to accept or understand the ones that come after us. New immigrants face more than just finding acceptance and their place in a new world, they have also to figure out a way to integrate their customs and old life into the new one. Alì Ha Gli Occhi Azzurri does a good job of showing us the heartache and the collateral damage from raising a family in a new country.
The story centers around 16-year-old Egyptian-Italian Nader, whose parents were born in Egypt but he in Italy. Teenagers rebel, and Nader’s rebellion is in the form of a pretty young Italian girlfriend. “I love her”, he tells his family when they say that he’s got to stop seeing her. For them, it’s just a teenage infatuation and out of the question. And though Nader and his girlfriend may be a modern version of Romeo and Juliet, Nader’s story hints at what might have become of Romeo and Juliet if they had continued their relationship. Would Romeo and Juliet really have left their families and never looked back?
2) For teachers who’d like to tell students about the Red Brigades, Buongiorno Notte (Good Morning Night) is director Marco Bellocchio’s 2003 story about the 1978 kidnapping and assassination of Aldo Moro, Italian president of the political party, Democrazia Cristiana.
The 70’s weren’t an easy decade for Italy – a terrorist group – BR, Brigate Rosse (Red Brigades) was wreaking havoc, responsible for 14,000 acts of violence, the kidnapping of public figures, and having murdered 75, Aldo Moro was the most famous. Bellocchio tells the story shown through the eyes of one of the terrorists, a 23 year old girl named Chiara (Maya Sansa), who in effect, epitomizes the young, idealistic anarchists who believed, as Chiara’s leader told her:
Per la vittoria del proletariato è lecito uccidere anche la propria madre. – For the victory of the proletariat it is lawful to kill your own mother.
3) ‘Mean Girls’ Italian-Style, Caterina Va in Città is the story of Caterina, whose father has relocated the family to Rome for a new teacher position in Rome.Narcissistic Giancarlo hasn’t a clue of what he’s done to his daughter, tearing her away from her happy hometown life that she loves and throwing her to the sharks (or rather, the teenage girls) in her new city. And now Caterina must make a choice, because as in any good high school clique system, she can’t be friends with everyone. She must pick the group that will define her and do it quick. She’s lucky, after figuring out that she’s not the simpleton that they at first thought she was, everybody sees her potential and wants her.
4) Powerful but, be warned, very bloody and disturbing, director Daniele Vicari’s film Diaz, Non Pulire Questo Sangue (Don’t Clean Up This Blood) is a good recent history lesson as well. “I’ve made a lot of documentaries before this”, said Vicari, “but this was the first time I realized I made a movie based on facts that were actually real”. During the G8 summit in 2001, police raided the Diaz school in Genoa, Italy, searching and beating the protesters who were staying there for more than two hours. Over 3000 hours of personal video and photos of events outside the school were released to the press and can be seen on YoutTube, and the events inside the school were reconstructed from first hand testimony from hundreds of victims.
5) Io e Te (Me and You) is Bernardo Bertolucci’s ode to anti-social youth, illustrating the kind of high school dissociation that either a) not a lot of people experienced, or b) they don’t want to admit they’ve experienced, or c) they’ve blocked it out of their memory and could only remember experiencing it under hypnosis. You know that expression, “It takes one to know one”? Unfortunately, I got it all too well, and it didn’t take hypnosis for me to identify with Lorenzo, the boy who hid out in his basement instead of going on the school ski trip.
When a half-sister that he barely knows shows up looking for stuff to sell to support her heroin addiction, they bond in a peculiar but important way.
6) Nuovomondo (The Golden Door) does an excellent job showing the realities of an Italian’s immigration to America. Instead of the usual scenes of weary but happy foreigners smiling brightly from a ships deck at the first sight of the statue of liberty, Golden Door shows the heartbreak and hardships of preparing for the move, dangers on board the ship, and degradations at Ellis Island.
7) Directed by Gabriele Salvatores, Italy in a Day is a documentary made from videos that ordinary Italian citizens sent in of themselves recording what they were doing on one particular day, Oct. 26, 2013. It is adorable.