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March 10-13, 2004  

New Italian Cinema

Over the past few years, a new generation of Italian filmmakers has emerged, defined neither by a particular political position nor a singular aesthetic approach. This group is rather unified by a new spirit of independence, by breaking away from old models and genres. Some of this “independence” has, in fact, been forced on these younger filmmakers as the collapse of the old industrial structures of the Italian cinema has challenged them to make it on their own. But this spirit is also indicative of the myriad of backgrounds, experiences, and influences this new generation brings to the films. This program surveys some of the most compelling new talents in this ever-changing national cinema.

We offer special thanks to Antonio Monda, New York University; and Giuliana Bruno, Harvard University.


March 10 (Wednesday) 9 pm

Rosa Funzeca

Directed by Aurelio Grimaldi
Italy, 2002, b/w, 90 min.
With Ida Di Benedetto, Primo Reggiani, Ennio Fantastichini
Italian with English subtitles

An homage to Pasolini’s Mamma Roma, the voluptuous black-and-white Rosa Funzeca focuses on the struggles of a prostitute in Naples who tries to escape her old way of life and sort things out with her growing son. After twenty years on the streets, the still-attractive middle-aged woman decides to give up prostitution. She looks forward to being reunited with her teenage son Fernando, who was brought up by priests. She spends her savings on a house and opens a flower stall. But it soon becomes apparent that she cannot manage financially, and she is forced to take to the streets again. With great feeling for the local language and regional culture, Grimaldi has made a film about the sorrow and joy, hope and despair of everyday life.

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March 12 (Friday) 7 pm

Two Friends (Due Amici)

Directed by Spiro Scimone, Francesco Sframeli
Italy 2002, color, 86 min.
With Francesco Sframeli, Spiro Scimone, Felice Andreasi
Italian with English subtitles

Winner of the Golden Lion of the Future at the Venice International Film Festival, Two Friends follows the lives of Nunzio, a gentle, na•ve factory worker stricken with a chronic cough and subsequently laid off, and his friend Pino, a cold, shady character. When Nunzio begins to court and fall in love with a beautiful young woman, Pino refuses to work in order to help his ill friend. This action subsequently gets him into significant trouble with the Mafia. At the end of Two Friends, Nunzio and Pino seal their friendship in a spectacular getaway to a new life and new levels of friendship. The music of Andrea Morricone and the unreal pop cinematography of Blasco Giurato exquisitely complement this story of two unlikely heroes. Co-directed by Spiro Scimone and Francesco Sframeli, with witty dialogue written by Scimone, the overall combination of these beautiful blends gives us a series of emotion that is anything but banal. (Film Description courtesy of Yvonne P. Behrens, AFI Fest 2003)

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March 12 (Friday) 9 pm

Maximum Velocity (Velocitta massima)

Directed by Pasquale Scimeca
Italy, 2002, color, 111 min.
With Valerio Mastandrea, Cristiano Morroni, Alessia Barela
Italian with English subtitles

Vicari’s exploration of Italy’s street-racing and customized-car scene depicts a relatively uncharted Roman subculture. At the heart of Maximum Velocity is the friendship that develops between a teenager and a thirty-something garage owner when the boy comes to live and work in Ostia. The youth’s remarkable talent with cars soon makes him a valuable asset in both the business and the nighttime street-racing contests, but the friendship is compromised by the older man’s romance with a restless young woman who, like the film’s protagonist, longs to escape the confines of the economically depressed region on the outskirts of Rome. The story revolves around themes of ambition, friendship, and betrayal that culminate in a climactic showdown and bittersweet conclusion.

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March 13 (Saturday) 7 pm

Placido Rizzotto

Directed by Pasquale Scimeca
Italy, 2000, color, 110 min.
With Marcello Mazzarella, Vincenzo Albanese, Carmelo Di Mazzarelli
Italian with English subtitles

Based on a historical events, this social biopic tells the story of trade-unionist hero Placido Rizzotto, who returns to his Sicilian village after World War II to discover that a new Mafia chief has taken over. Armed with a new anti-fascist idealism, he cannot accept the arrogance of the corrupt power structure and the brutal way in which it selects those who will work the fields and whose families will be able to eat. By dint of his magnetic personality, he manages to convince both the people and his father that the old ways are wrong. He organizes the peasants and persuades them to occupy the land but, ultimately, the ruthless powers overtake him.

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March 13 (Saturday) 9 pm

Pater Familias

Directed by Francesco Patierno
Italy, 2002, color, 95 min.
With Luigi Jacuzio, Domenico Balsamo, Federica Bonavolontà
Italian with English subtitles

A gripping “memory film,” Francesco Patierno’s debut feature is the story of Matteo, a man returning to his native village near Naples after a ten-year absence. He must put his dying father’s papers in order, but the visit affords him the opportunity to straighten out much in his own past as well. Patierno powerfully captures the stifling quality of small-town life, the dashed hopes and dreams that threaten to spiral into frustration and even violence. Newcomer Luigi Jacuzio is sensational as Matteo, a character who seems to grow increasingly complex and surprising before our eyes.

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