Some of these are not easy for Americans to find, but they are worth the trouble.
In Guerra Per Amore (At War For Love)
TV star turned movies star Pierfrancesco Diliberto (Pif) really knows how to tug on the heart strings, and in this, his second film, In Guerra Per Amore, he tells a story that begins with Italians living in New York City and then travels to Sicily during World War II. This film has it all: Italians making their way in America and then becoming patriots for their new country, longing for the beautiful but war-torn land that they left, and a history lesson you’re not likely to forget.
The DVD for In Guerra Per Amore has just been released in Italy so if you have an Italian or region free DVD player, you are in luck (there are subtitles available), and we’ll be watching for US distribution.
La Mafia Uccide Solo D’Estate (The Mafia Only Kills In The Summer)
Pif’s first film is equally emotionally charged and brings tears to my eyes every time I watch it. Here, we find Italians living in Palermo during the infamous Maxi Trial, when Mafiosi were on a murderous rampage, killing judges and witnesses. The end of the film is a beautiful tribute to the Italians that courageously stood up to the criminals.
This one is available to stream in the USA:VUDU , iTunes
Nuovomondo (The Golden Door)
Nuovomondo is the starkly realistic account of the Mancuso family and their journey to the new world, beginning as they make plans to leave Sicily and ending as they gaze at the statue of liberty from Ellis Island.
Benvenuto Al Sud is one of the biggest box office hits in Italy but for some mind-boggling reason, was never widely released in the United States. Claudio Bisio stars as a northern guy who gets transferred (to his horror), to southern Italy, but comes to find that his preconceived ideas have been unfair.
I love this movie for many reasons (it’s so funny!) but maybe mostly because it reminds me of my husband’s family in Bagnoli Irpino (near Naples) and their dialect. My husband’s two grandfathers, one from Reggio Calabria and the other from Bagnoli Irpino could’t talk to each other because their dialects were so different, and Bisio’s character needed a translator in his new southern Italian village.
GET IT FROM ITALY (NO SUBTITLES, SO BRUSH UP ON YOUR ITALIAN!)
Noi Credevamo (We Believed)
We, the people, believed; but in what? The 2010 movie, Noi Credevamo is about the Italian Unification and after having watched the movie I know two things: 1) I hadn’t understood very much about Italian history and 2) I still don’t. I also have learned, from the movie, that Italy’s struggle for freedom was like most country’s – it was long, hard and complicated. The process started around 1815 and ended around 1871 with the Franco-Prussian War, so many of the people who began the uprising weren’t around to see the results, and there were many who were born into a conflict that they had nothing to do with the conflict’s birth. Noi Credevamo is especially hard to find in the USA, but again, if you have a region free player, ORDER IT HERE.
I once compared Giuseppe Tornatore’s semi-autobiographical saga of his home town Bagheria, Sicily to a feature length Barilla Pasta advertisement, but if you want a great, sentimental look at Italian families through the generations, this one’s for you.
Want to hear about the a new generation of young people leaving Italy for economic reasons? Of course, none of us do, but the reality is fascinating. After eviction from their apartment Gustav and Luca are at a crossroads; Gustav wants to leave Italy and move to Berlin, but Luca wants to stick it out in his native country. Before making this important decision, the guys give themselves six months to tour the country in an old Fiat 500, the symbol of economic miracle, and make a “pros and cons” list on the merits and disadvantages of living in Italy.
Gustav Hofer e Luca Ragazzi inspect the symbols of their country, things from an illustrious past that are contradicted by what they find on their tour. Luca reminds Gustav about all the good stuff, the pizza, the Vespa, the fashion, and Sophia Loren, Gustav counters with the bad stuff – the unemployment, the mafia, the corruption, and the immigration problems. Written and directed by Hofer and Ragazzi, the pair takes a look at the situation without anger or resentment, but with affectionate satire.
La Meglio Gioventù (The Best Of Youth) This one is actually a 6 hour and 40 minute TV mini-series but worth every second. Two brothers, with very different personalities travel alternate paths through 40 years of Italian history.
It’s not available to stream any place I am aware of right now, butyou can buy it from Amazon.
Worth it for this final scene, sorry, no subtitles, but watch as Carlo Verdone explains Italy to children. Priceless!