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Wednesday, 6/26/2019

Bella Italia

Italian Films at FILMFEST MÜNCHEN

One perfect moment: ORDINARY HAPPINESS

From grand old masters to promising new talent, from merciless documentations of reality to imaginative visions, FILMFEST MÜNCHEN is showing the whole spectrum of current Italian films. On this cineastic journey to the Mediterranean, it's time to buy your ticket, get on board, and be amazed.

A pillar of Italian cinema since time immemorial has been the crime story. By the 1930s, films were already being made about the Mafia. THE TRAITOR by Marco Bellocchio continues this proud tradition, reopening one of the most spectacular cases ever to reach the courts. It revolves around Tommaso Buscetta, a star witness in the 1980s whose testimony helped to convict hundreds of criminals.

Matteo Rovere travels much further into the past. In his third film, this director and co-author reinterprets the legend of Romulus and Remus. ROMULUS & REMUS: THE FIRST KING takes us on a grand, action-packed adventure with challenges that the two brothers must meet before they can make history as the founders of the city of Rome. This is an adventure full of danger and bleak imagery that nonetheless attempts to authentically depict the life and the language of the time.

 

ROMULUS & REMUS: THE FIRST KING, THE VICE OF HOPE and THE TRAITOR

 

A look back is also the idea behind Daniele Luchetti's tragicomedy ORDINARY HAPPINESS, even if protagonist Paolo would prefer to do without it. Paolo, you see, is dead. Or almost dead. He's been fatally injured in a traffic accident, but a slight mishap in the hereafter allows him to return to his old life — albeit for only 92 minutes. That's not much time to think about everything that was once important to him or that ought to have been important.

The topic of life and death pervades yet another of the eight films currently in this section, THE VICE OF HOPE. Edoardo De Angelis introduces us to a young woman who makes a living from the transport of babies born to illegal surrogate mothers. Maria has never regarded this situation as a problem: a job is a job. But when she gets pregnant, she must find her own way out of the dystopian dreariness of rural Italy. It's now up to her to make a life-or-death decision.

Women on a journey of self-discovery? STAY STILL has two of them. Unlike what the title of this German-Italian co-production implies, a lot is going on in the lives of Julie and Agnes. It was pure chance that brought these two very different women together in a psychiatric ward. This is a tragicomedy about the little bits of happiness that one can find in unexpected places.

 

WHAT YOU GONNA DO WHEN THE WORLD’S ON FIRE?, THE DISAPPEARANCE OF MY MOTHER and SANTIAGO, ITALIA

 

Tight bonds are, of course, something that exist outside of fiction as well. Beniamino Barrese describes one such bond in THE DISAPPEARANCE OF MY MOTHER, one of three documentaries involving an Italian hand which are showing at FILMFEST MÜNCHEN 2019. In this film, Barrese tenderly depicts the aging process of his mother, who at 75 still wants to control what others — including her own son — think of her.

The remaining two documentaries are devoted to larger societal topics. In WHAT YOU GONNA DO WHEN THE WORLD’S ON FIRE? director Roberto Minervini shows us the state of African-American communities in the southern United States, where children learn at an early age that they might be shot in the streets. Nanni Moretti has chosen a historical but no less sensitive issue as the subject of his film. In SANTIAGO, ITALIA we travel to Chile in 1973, when the Italian embassy gave sanctuary to hundreds of people who feared for their lies after the coup d'état.

Tip: To learn more about current Italian cinema, we heartily recommend going to the FILMMAKERS LIVE: ITALIAN CINEMA discussion (July 4, 4:00 p.m.).

 

Oliver Armknecht