New Italian Cinema at the San Francisco Film Society - Special Report

By Moira Sullivan

The San Francisco Film Society New Italian cinema program, now in its 13th year, will screen from November 15-22.
All of the directors of the films will be present for the screenings. There are four films by Marco Risi and his latest film will be presented on opening night - Fortapàsc. In English this means Fort Apache, a violent part of Naples. The film is about the life of the journalist Giancarlo Siani who was murdered for writing about mobsters such as Valentino Gionta and clashes between clans.
The Sicilian Girl by director Marco Amenta tells the story of a young girl who testifies against the mafia after her father and brother are executed. On closing night November 22, Vincere by Marco Belluchio will screen, a film in an innovative opera form with newsreel footage about Ida Dalser (Giovanna Mezzogiorno), the mother of Benito Mussolini’s illegitimate child and her tragic love affair with the Fascist dictator (Filippo Timi). ( Note: a review of this film and an interview with one of the actors Francesca Picozza will be featured in an upcoming Movie Magazine show in January upon the theatrical release of the film.)
Sea Purple directed by Donatella Maiorca is the story of a woman who falls in love with her best friend Sara in 19th century Sicily and in Different from Whom? by Umberto Carteni, a gay-rights advocate campaigns to be mayor in a conservative town. PA-RA-DA by Marco Pontecorvo features non-professional child actors in a touching story about a French street clown who travels to Bucharest to bring cheer to orphanages, three years after the Ceausescu dictatorship is overthrown. And a provocative family drama is the subject of Claudio Giovannesi’s The House in the Clouds.
As a preview from the series, Lecture 21 by Alessandro Baricco is an enchanting music film to be screened on November 20. An Italian-English co production, it features John Hurt as Professor Mondrian Kilroy. A rebel lecturer beloved by students, a few recall one of his most memorable lectures about Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. In the opening scene a coffin is being transported on ice by a group of skaters. The lecture is then brought to life where we follow the life of Anton Peters (played by Noah Taylor) who tries to convince a group of villagers of the importance of the symphony who think Beethoven was washed up as a musician. Barricco’s form provides us the opportunity to explore this great work of Beethoven with anecdotes of the piece, and details such as how the composer would bang the piano when composing music so that no one would steal the music he couldn’t hear, how the piece was received at the time, and various aspects of the composition. There are cuts back to the students who remember the lectures of Mondriano Kilroy and the professor himself at poignant moments of the lecture and in conversation with one of his students Marta. The fact that this lecture is so skillfully brought to life convinces us that it was indeed something one really missed, as the student Marta recalls, she heard it three times.
The San Francisco Film Society Italian cinema program truly promises an exciting lineup.

© 2009 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 11/11/09
Movie Magazine International