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What's Hot New Zealand and the Cinema Italiano Festival take you on a journey through Italy in film.
We begin our trip on the far northwest, at the village of Castel Vittorio near the French border. Io Sono L’Amore / I Am Love was shot in this mountainous town, as well as just down the road in coastal Sanremo and in the northern city of Milan. The film centres on a wealthy Milanese family and the heir’s Russian wife, Emma Recchi (Tilda Swinton) who appears to be a static part of the family’s ‘collection’, but awakens herself through a developing relationship with a talented chef. The film contains magnificent demonstrations of Milanese architecture, including the Villa Necchi Campiglio, designed by celebrated architect Piero Portaluppi.
Heading south, we hit the tourist hotspot of Tuscany – heart of the Renaissance and home to unending beauty in its cities, landscapes dotted with vineyards and olive groves, and Mediterranean coastline. This is the magical setting for Pinocchio – Italy’s favourite fairy tale. This version of the classic tale is told by director Matteo Garrone (of Gomorra fame) with humour, spectacular in-camera special effects, and a touch of his signature darkness.
Next we arrive in the capital, Rome. In the suburbs of this history-drenched city we find the setting of Favolacce / Bad Tales – an exploration of characters and stories in a stylish and naughty drama that tackles toxic masculinity, the loss of innocence and general human unpleasantness amid a long, hot Roman summer.
No film-based trip through Italy would be complete without a stop in Naples. It’s a city of contrasts – stunning beauty, traditional hospitality, world-famous cuisine, crime, and the mafia. The perfect setting for the most interesting of Italian stories. Matrimonio All’Italiana / Marriage Italian Style is one of these stories – a former prostitute attempts to lure a dissociative aristocrat into marriage for the sake of her children, in a highly entertaining and pointed critique of Italian patriarchal chauvinism.
Without a doubt the best way to get from Naples to Sicily is by sea, and La Dea Fortuna / The Goddess of Fortune features one such trip in beautiful detail. The film depicts several sun-drenched Italian locations beautifully: Rome, Naples, Palermo. It’s also a humanistic, warm, funny, sophisticated and thoughtful drama about a family turned upside down by fate and friends, featuring some big names in Italian film.
We find ourselves in Sicily, the island being gently punted off the toe of the boot of Italy. Sicily is home to sandy beaches and Mediterranean sunbathing platforms, snow-covered mountains, an active volcano, deserts and historic cities. Il Gattopardo / The Leopard is an iconic film about the failing influence of the old Italian aristocracy, and its famous ball scene is both a showcase of the height of Sicilian beauty and opulence, and a demonstration of the irrelevance of extravagance.
Finally, our trip through Italy takes on a cultural exchange to a place where many of the locals don’t consider themselves to be Italian at all: Sardinia. L'uomo che Comprò la Luna / The Man Who Bought the Moon shows off the island’s unique wit in this absurdist, hilarious film that pits a mainland special agent against a Sardinian man who lays claim to the moon.
Thu 17 Jun - Fri 29 Oct