Wednesday, 6/13/2018

Italian cinema: more variety than ever before

The Rohrwacher sisters and Naples as a city of film

Alice Rohrwacher in TROPPA GRAZIA

Italian cinema is represented by a powerful lineup at the 36th FILMFEST MÜNCHEN. The focus in the very diverse program this year is on two strong young women of Italian cinema, sisters Alba and Alice Rohrwacher, as well as on Naples as an Italian city of film.

Alba Rohrwacher, currently one of the most visible actresses in Italian cinema, appears in two films showing in Munich. In LUCIA'S GRACE (directed by Gianni Zanasi), she plays the part of Lucia, a single mother who must make a difficult decision that could have far-reaching consequences. She also plays Antonia in HAPPY AS LAZZARO, the latest film by her sister, Alice Rohrwacher, who received the award for best screenplay for this film in Cannes. Alice Rohrwacher is rightly considered one of the most interesting female directors of the moment. As in her previous film THE WONDERS (2014), she demonstrates her inimitable style in HAPPY AS LAZZARO. The story of Lazzaro, a young peasant, and Tancredi, a nobleman, is both shrewd social criticism and magical realism. FILMFEST MÜNCHEN has followed Alice Rohrwacher's career from the beginning; in 2014, she received the CineVision Award here.


The festival focuses on Naples in presenting the mysterious love story NAPLES IN VEILS by Ferzan Ozpetek and the Mafia musical LOVE AND BULLETS by the Manetti brothers. Both stories take place in the famous port city that has long been a fascinating backdrop in cinema. Naples, a secretive and dangerous city, is the setting of incomparable romantic adventures, dramas and destinies. Outstanding filmmakers have a connection to the city at the base of Mount Vesuvius. The great neo-realists Vittorio de Sica, Roberto Rossellini, and Francesco Rosi created classics of film history here. Since then, Naples has sacrificed none of its attractiveness. On the contrary, the city remains inscrutable and is visible as never before, thanks to such distinctive directors as Paolo Sorrentino, Mario Martone, and Valeria Golino.


The fast-paced musical LOVE AND BULLETS is set in Scampia, the notorious modern Naples ghetto that's known from the TV series "Gomorrha" — and that is in reality a stronghold of the Camorra crime syndicate. This musical Mafia parody by the directing brothers Antonio and Marco Manetti was a sensation at last year's Venice Film Festival and was one of the most successful movies at Italian box offices. At the awards ceremony of the Davide di Donatello, the Italian Oscar, LOVE AND BULLETS triumphantly received five awards. With anarchic energy and playful delight, the Manetti brothers take an ironic approach to the usual gangster clichés. In contrast, Turkish-Italian director Ferzan Ozpetek (STEAM: THE TURKISH BATH, 1997) shows us his own image of Naples in NAPLES IN VEILS as he paints a completely new portrait of the city. This drama is the story of a mysterious woman named Adriana. Between a passionate affair and a violent crime, the boundaries between reality and illusion gradually disappear.

The other Italian films in the Spotlight and International Independents sections emphasize the importance of Italy as a classic land of cinema. Against the backdrop of the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Stefano Savona's SAMOUNI ROAD, a portrait of a family in Gaza City, could hardly be more topical. This subtle documentary was honored with the L'Œil d'or award at this year's film festival in Cannes.


TAINTED SOULS by Matteo Bortugno and Daniele Coluccini depicts other crises, vividly portraying crime, drugs, and corruption in Rome and life on the edge of the city. A golden wedding anniversary celebration on a small island also goes very differently than was planned in THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME by Gabriele Muccino. Jealousy, affairs, and family intrigue cause unease, and the family gathering falls into turmoil.

Also part of the Filmfest program, and open to the public, is the FILMMAKERS LIVE! panel discussion CINEMA ITALIANO on the state of Italian cinema on Wednesday, July 4, 2018 at 4 p.m. in the Black Box at the Gasteig. We will welcome directors Gianni Zanasi, Ferzan Ozpetek, Matteo Botrugno, Daniele Coluccini, and Stefano Savona. The discussion will be moderated by Christoph Gröner, a curator at FILMFEST MÜNCHEN. Admission to FILMMAKERS LIVE! is free. Please be sure to obtain a free admission ticket at the box office.