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New initiative to foster film production in Southern Italy

  As part of our ongoing series, “Basilicata: Land of Cinema,” we take a look at a new initiative aimed at promoting the work of local filmmakers and productions taking place across the region. Since we started this series two years ago, television and film production in Basilicata has increased even more. Just last year, the international production of Mary Magdalene, starring Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus and Rooney Mara as Mary Magdalene was shot in the regions of Basilicata, Campania and Sicily. The film is slated for a Thanksgiving release in America. Scenes from Matteo Rovere’s 2016 film, Veloce come il vento, starring ...

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Yuri Ancarini’s falconry documentary soars

  Dating back some 4,000 years, the sport of falconry is still widely practiced today. With origins in the Middle East, falconry is a highly-regarded pastime, which, in some cultures, also serves as a male rite of passage. Italian filmmaker Yuri Ancarini explores an annual falconry competition that takes place in the vast desert of Qatar in his visual masterpiece, The Challenge. Ancarini combines the spectacular desert landscape of the Arabian Peninsula with a dramatic soundtrack and candid moments to give an intimate look into the world of the falconers. Several types of predators from the raptor species of birds are ...

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Nanni Morretti’s latest film opens across the country

  Nanni Moretti’s highly acclaimed film “Mia madre” opens across the country today. To put it simply, this film is a piece of art and is not to be missed. “Mia Madre” has been described as “a whirlwind of intimate and universally-shared emotions.” Moretti presents us with a story to which we can all relate. Based on his own experience, the film stars Margherita Buy whose character, also named Margherita, is a director shooting a film about a group of factory workers who risk losing their jobs. In the meantime, her mother (Giulia Lazzarini) is gravely ill, her teenage daughter ...

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Venice Festival to feature Virtual Reality first

  Cinema history is about to be made at the 73rd edition of the Venice Film Festival coming up in September. The festival just announced the world premiere screening, in a special 40-minute preview, of “Jesus VR – The Story of Christ,” the first Virtual Reality feature-length film ever made. The 90-minute film covers all of Jesus’ life and death, from his baptism to the Last Supper to his crucifixion. Shot in Basilicata’s ancient Sassi district of Matera, the film will be released to the public around Christmastime on all major mobile and premium VR platforms. “I am beyond thrilled to ...

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Venice Festival to showcase unique prison documentary

  The 73rd Venice International Film Festival will be held from August 31 to September 10, 2016. It is directed by Alberto Barbera and organized by the Biennale chaired by Paolo Baratta. The complete lineup was released last week, revealing a strong selection of Italian films that includes restored classics from yesterday, contemporary filmmakers of today and the young independents of tomorrow. One film in particular has grabbed my attention. In the Special Program selection, you will find a documentary film that takes an in-depth look at a life of incarceration from the perspective of the incarcerated. Director Ambrogio Crespi ...

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Italian cinema receives worldwide attention

  The 13th edition of Italian Screenings, the only annual marketplace event dedicated solely to Italian productions is underway in Bari, located in Italy’s southern region of Puglia. Organized by Istituto Luce Cinecittà, 130 professionals from 30 countries are expected to attend. The purpose is to sell Italian films to buyers throughout the world. Among those professionals is Vincenzo Mosca. He and his business partner Sesto Cifola run the world sales and production company TVCO that recently partnered with CristaldiFilm to make Italian films available throughout the world. Cristaldifilm is operated by Massimo Cristaldi and Zeudi Araya. Massimo is the son of Franco Cristaldi, a monumental movie producer and three-time Oscar winner for some ...

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ICFF to screen comedy by Alberto Diamante

  By teaching a teenage boy how to win over a girl, a crusty bookstore owner learns to resolve his own romantic troubles. This is the story of “The Bookstore”, the charming, thought-provoking comedy by Alberto Diamante, which is in the lineup of Canada’s Italian Contemporary Film Festival. The film at first seems like a light comedy with an upbeat soundtrack, witty dialogue and characters coming and going. However, once the story plays out, the characters reveal their insecurities and true apprehensions about pursuing their dreams and their fears of failure. Alberto Diamante is multitalented. He wrote the screenplay, directed ...

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Canadian film fest to spotlight Calabrian star Stefano Grillo

  Born in the historic seaside city of Crotone, Calabria, actor Stefano Grillo is about to reach North American shores. “Quo vado?” is Checco Zalone’s box office record-breaking film and it is opening this year’s edition of the Italian Contemporary Film Festival in Canada. Grillo plays the part of Don Michele Vannucci, the pastor in a fictitious village in Calabria, called Castrovizzo. Don Michele Vannucci is a priest who fights against organized crime and because of this, ends up being transferred elsewhere. The focus of “Quo vado?” is on Checco Zalone (Luca Medici aka Checco Zalone). Born into a life of relative comfort and privilege among ...

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Open Roads offers unique cinematic take on Italy

  The 16th edition of Open Roads: New Italian Cinema kicks off today, showcasing Italy’s contemporary filmmakers and their unique perspectives of the social issues facing their country. Co-organized with Istituto Luce Cinecittà in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute of New York, this year’s lineup is diverse. Maria Sole Tognazzi’s “Io e lei” (Me and Her) opens the series on Thursday. The Tognazzi cinema dynasty is thriving right now with four prolific offspring of the great Ugo Tognazzi: actor/director Ricky; actor Gian Marco; Norwegian producer/director Thomas Robsahm; and the youngest, director Maria Sole. I happened to be in Italy when ...

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Taviani Brothers’ “Wondrous Boccaccio” due out on DVD

  It’s just been announced that Film Movement distribution company will release the Taviani Brothers’ “Wondrous Boccaccio” on DVD June 21. From the dramatic music of the opening credits to the last frame of film, “Wondrous Boccaccio” is a poetic, surreal and yes, wondrous escape back in time. Based on stories written in the 14th century by Giovanni Boccaccio in “The Decameron,” the film depicts the dark ages of Tuscany during the plague when gravediggers couldn’t keep up with the demand. Iconic filmmakers, Paolo and Vittorio Taviani live up to their reputation by creating an atmosphere of loss, tragedy, fear, ...

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