I get letters! Lucy wrote to ask:
Hi–We met very briefly at the Lincoln Center Festival a few years ago and I’ve been a follower of your website ever since. A couple of friends are coming to NYC for the festival this year. The lineup has just been published and I was wondering if you have must-see favorites.
I am so glad you asked! The entire linup is outstanding and I would see all of them that you can, but here are the films that I particularly recommend.
Open Roads opens with one of the best Italian films in the last few years, Edoardo De Angelis‘s Indivisibili (Indivisible). This film is so amazing that Oscar winning director Paolo Sorrentino says that it could have won an Oscar if Italy had selected it for the foreign film nomination.
Starring twins Angela and Marianna Fontana as conjoined twins that are local singing sensations, Indivisibile exibits a raw authenticity that is extraordinary, particularly given the sisters had never before acted. Using local, non-professional actors, dialect particular to the region, and gritty locations, De Angelis, at his young age, has produced a true masterpiece.
Thursday, June 1, 1:45pm & 6:30pm, Walter Reade Theater (165 W. 65th St NY, NY)
While Federica Di Giacomo’s documentary, Liberami (the winner of the Orizzonti Award at this year’s Venice Film Festival and about real life exorcisms) isn’t terrifying, it isn’t spooky fun either. It isn’t a jab at the Catholic Church and it doesn’t poke fun of people who believe they are possessed. Liberami does what the best documentaries do, it gives us a window into a world that may be unfamiliar to us and lets us decide for ourselves what to make of it. Liberami just won the Doc/it Professional Award for Best Documentary of the Year.
Sunday, June 4, 6:30pm, Walter Read Theater
Alessandro Aronadio’s comedy is one of my favorites the premiered at last year’s Venice Film. Orecchie is classically dark humor with a postmodern hero who has grown world-weary. Unlike Jep Gambardella in Paolo Sorrentino’s La Grande Bellezza, one who allows himself to be occasionally amused by the “blah, blah, blah” swirling around him, or at least not let it drive him crazy, the guy in Orecchie is beaten down by it. The ringing in his ears is a symptom of some degree of depression.
He’s in a genuinely despondent state, and yet, after spending the time with him, I felt oddly optimistic. Was this the intent of writer/director Alessandro Aronadio, to make me feel better about life? I believe that Orecchie will strike the same chord with everyone who watches it.
Friday, June 2, 3:45pm
Monday, June 5, 9:00pm Walter Reade Theater
Claudio Giovannesi’s coming of age story has been winning awards all over the place and touching young and old alike. Though the film covers events that occur throughout months, Fiore feels more like a portrait, a snapshot, or chapter 3 in a book read independently, without ever having read chapters one and two and never having a chance to know the ending. In it, a teenager named Daphne is pretty much alone in the world and getting by stealing cellphones by robbing people at knifepoint. It was only a matter of time before she’s caught and sent to a juvenile detention center.
Daphne is an adolescent combination of rage, depression, and childlike girliness, chain smoking, getting into tussles with the other girls, and mooning over a guy in the boy’s section. What she is longing for in her life is unclear, probably because she’s not used to getting anything of value or having anything go her way.
Friday, June 2, 9:00pm
Monday, June 5, 6:45pm Walter Reade Theater
In Guerra Per Amore (At War With Love)
Italian TV star, Pif, Pierfrancesco Diliberto’s first film La Mafia Uccide Solo D’Estate (The Mafia Only Kills In The Summer) taught us about the Sicilian mafia just before the famous Maxi Trial, when Sicilian prosecutors indicted 475 mafiosi for crimes relating to Mafia activities. His newest film, In Guerra Per Amore, Pif offers a prequel of sorts, an explanation of how the mafia was able a stronghold over the Italian Island in the first place.
Pif, a director, writer and Italian TV stars as Arturo, in this very charming rom-com with a historical fiction story. It’s 1943 and as World War II rages in Europe, Palermo native Arturo is in New York City working as a waiter. His sweetheart Flora (Miriam Leone) has been promised to the son of an important New York Mafia boss, and to stop the wedding, he joins the army and goes to Sicily in search of Flora’s father in hopes to ask for her hand in marriage.
Saturday, June 3, 9:15pm
Tuesday, June 6, 2:30pm Walter Reade Theater
La Ragazza Del Mondo (Worldly Girl)
Marco Danieli’s La Ragazza Del Mondo
Sara Serraiocco dominates the screen in this unique (spiritual) coming of age movie. The film premiered at Venice Days last year where she and co-star Michele Riondino won Pasinetti Awards for best actress and best actor, and on Monday, director Marco Daniele won the David di Donatello Award for Migliore Regista Esordiente (Best Debut Director).
It’s got a fairly unusual backdrop, the world of the über evangelistic and disciplined religious sect known primarily to the rest of us as the people who knock on your door on Saturday mornings and ask you if you believe in God. Worldly Girl is a fascinating education about what life is really like for them (Google search fact-check confirmed 30 seconds after credits rolled).
In her loving but rigorously cloistered existence, continuing education is frowned upon (“Do you want it for God or for own vanity?”) and a relationship with a “worldly person”, those outside their religious community, is a deal-breaker. Giulia, at the top of her high school class, is a shoo-in for a big scholarship, but her parents discourage applying for it. Her teachers, on the other hand, are appalled that they’d impede her bright future.
Sara Serraiocco is just lovely and extremely natural as the conflicted young woman who feels pulled in a hundred different directions and like nobody cares what she wants.
Saturday, June 3, 4:00pm Walter Reade Theater