From the left, Rod Armstrong with Fabio Mollo, director of SOUTH IS NOTHING, at 2014 San Francisco International Film Festival. Photo by Pat Mazzera
The New Italian Cinema is back to the Vogue Theatre in San Francisco starting November 11 for a five days of screening. The 19th edition will put together the most interesting movies made by well known directors as Paolo Sorrentino and Nanni Moretti, as well as those from a generation of young filmmakers. Tradition and new talent, drama and comedy, the movies chosen by experts of the San Francisco Film Society will focus on the art of storytelling. We talked to Rod Armstrong, who is the director of programming on various Film Society endeavors, including the New Italian Cinema.
What makes this year’s edition different from the others?
This year marks one of the very few times we’ve shown an English-language film – Paolo Sorrentino’s YOUTH – in the program. There is also a welcome shift to female protagonists in a number of movies, including CLORO (CHLORINE), MY NAME IS MAYA and MIA MADRE.
We have directors who are interested in the world outside of Italy, with MEDITERRANEA a story of African refugees and Paolo Sorrentino’s tale of a Brit and an American relaxing at a Swiss spa.
Which is the main focus of the 19th edition?
As always, the focus is on up-and-coming filmmakers presenting their work bookended by more established directors and their latest films. Thematically, the movies run the gamut from coming-of-age stories to period pieces to older protagonists reflecting on their lives and loves. Throughout, we will be pleased to welcome several filmmakers to San Francisco to present their work.
The festival tries to alternate big directors’ movies with young, less known but as talented directors. Why is it important to keep this balance?
The reason for the balance is two-fold — one involving the audience and one involving the national cinema we are celebrating. At this point in movie-going history, audiences are less apt to take a chance on somewhat unknown quantities. The bigger movies can hopefully draw a large audience and whet the appetite for the language and predicaments and get people interested in what new directors have to say. The other reason is to celebrate the ongoing excellence of Italian filmmaking and remind audiences that it is often the very filmmakers they see in the competition section who will later be represented in the bigger titles that bookend the series. This year’s big movies are a great example, as both Paolo Sorrentino’s and Nanni Moretti’s early movies were presented at New Italian Cinema in years past.
Any big idea for next year, when NICE will celebrate the 20th anniversary?
Right now we’re concen-trating on having a great festival this year, but we’re all very excited to see what 2016 brings in terms of great movies and filmmakers from Italy.
The Festival will open on November 11 with Wondrous Boccaccio, directed by the Taviani Brothers: the adaptation of The Decameron features a group of young women and men who hope to escape the Black Plague by journeying to the countryside where they tell one another stories, mainly following the theme of forbidden love.
After the Oscar won thanks to La Grande Bellezza, Director Paolo Sorrentino is back with another work full of humour and melancholy: in Youth, life, love, age, and search for happiness come together in a resort where guests contemplate beauty in its myriad forms.
Edoardo Falcone, 2015 David di Donatello award for Best New Director, presents his comedy-drama, God Willing: young Andrea confesses his parents that he wants to become a priest, encouraged by his mentor named Pietro. While Andrea’s father Tommaso, an atheist surgeon, takes the announcement as a challenge, other family members find themselves awakened by the revelation.
Io, Arlecchino by Directors Matteo Bini and Giorgio Pasotti represents a theatrical history that began in the 16th century. A heartwarming, rich film that charmingly reinvents the commedia dell’arte for the 21st. century.
Based on the fraught life of 19th-century Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi, Mario Martone’s  Leopardi features a unique performance by Elio Germano: the story of the physically frail young man, who leads a life of the mind, devoting himself to an epistolary friendship with scholar Pietro Giordani, several unrequited romantic interests and a feverish compulsion to write.
The festival closing night will put on screen Nanni Moretti’s Mia Madre. The story is about a filmmaker named Margherita directing a social-realist drama about a factory sit-in. While her mother’s illness leads her to confront her own past, the plot shows the burdens of balancing artistic and family life while presenting a compelling tapestry of one woman’s experience.
For information about
the schedule and to purchase tickets, visit http://www.sffs. org/ exhibition/fall-season-2015/new-italian-cinema. To participate to the crowdfunding project launched by the San Francisco COM.IT.ES and to
be a sponsor of the New
Italian Cinema festival, visit Events/NICE-New-Italian-Cinema

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