The first time I went to the Italian Film Festival was in 2008 and I asked Karen to come see with me Giorno E Nuvole – Days and Clouds (2007). In the heady first weeks of dating Karen and I did not care for the film and did not care that we did not care for it. Just another date that’s real purpose was for us to be together. Centred around a well off middle aged couple declining to harder living conditions as the employment of the well establish husband is radically altered. Depressing and heartbreaking and all too real in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis. One thing that still remains with me years later is the power of the lead actress Margherita Buy.
In 2009 we decided to play it safer and went with Michael Winterbottom’s Genova starring Colin Firth as the father of two daughters and a widow who moves to Italy as an academic to provide a seachange. Well intentioned, with beautiful scenery and thoughtfulness it still proved for the most part unengaging to us.
Not trusting our own judgement we deferred to our friends in 2011 who had made good selections in the past for the French Film Festival and went to see Habemus Papum – We Have A Pope. Coming off a 10 minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival that moved director Nanni Moretti to tears something must have been lost in translation because I laughed nor cried but I did fall asleep on the lazy sunday afternoon screening we went to.
This is no reflection on the film festival itself, if you look at the programs for the years we went you will see universally acknowledged modern classics and crowd pleasers. It seems we just had a bad run of luck or made poor decisions for own tastes. Following the wonderful opportunity to interview Palace CEO Benjamin Zeccola last year for Scenestr magazine about the 2017 Italian Film Festival, I thought for sure I would take him up on one of his recommendations and see maybe a comedy like War for Love but alas circumstances kept us from the film festival last year too.
This year the opportunity to attend opening night for Scenestr magazine came up and having had such a wonderful last year at the Brisbane opening night for the Cine Latino Film Festival I couldn’t wait to take Karen with me this time. The film was Loro, directed by Paolo Sorrentino who made easily one of my favourite films of 2015 Youth along with the fantastic This Must Be The Place (2011) and The Great Beauty (2013), the latter I watched in anticipation of seeing Loro. Loro is easily the best film Karen and I have seen at the Italian Film Festival and an interesting film that holds your attention for the most part. It re-teams Sorrentino with Toni Servillo who gives a fantastic performance as the magnetic Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The opening half an hour becomes tedious despite its fireworks visuals and editing as it focusses on another character but when Servillo arrives the film grips. Upon reflection thought it comes across as some great ideas but lacking in overall vision. I suspect this is intended but I can’t say that excuses the lack of discipline. You can read more of my thoughts here http://scenestr.com.au/movies-and-tv/loro-italian-film-festival-brisbane-opening-night-review-20180921 but I cannot deny that the film lingers and Sorrentino remains one of my favourite directors to watch.
As for opening night itself, Karen and I had a wonderful time. There was a cheese table that had many a party goer hovering nearby, a live band, much wine and tasty h’orduvres making the rounds as the 2018 Lavazza Italian Film Festival kicked off in style. Grabbing our goodies bag though Karen and I eventually had to make our way home for me to start on my review. Our luck at the Italian Film Festival is definitely improving and there are plenty of wonderful films to check out this year yet.
Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises, Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Celebrating 25 years in 2018 of publishing history they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for WA, SA, NSW, Vic and QLD every month. If you’re into music they’re a great read but they do cover all of the arts including festivals, stand-up comics, fashion, theatre and film. I feel very fortunate to get to write for them.