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Film Series Review—Open Roads: New Italian Cinema

Open Roads: New Italian Cinema 2018

Series runs through June 6, 2018

The Tavianis' Rainbow: A Private Affair

With the recent death of Ermanno Olmi, Italian cinema lost one of its true masters. As part of the 17th annual Open Roads: New Italian Cinema, another recent casualty, Vittorio Taviani, is represented by his and his brother Paolo’s last collaboration, Rainbow: A Private Affair, an intimate chronicle of love and politics amid Turin anti-fascists in 1944. Bolstered by the appealing Valentina Belle—who plays the woman both protagonists want—it’s not the final masterpiece its directors’ fans hoped for, but has the Tavianis’ characteristic humanity in abundance. (The brothers’ 1982 WWII classic, The Night of the Shooting Stars, is also showing during the series.)


Valentina Cortese—a luminous actress in films by Fellini, Antonioni and Truffaut (for whose Day for Night she got a Best Supporting Actress Oscar)—is remembered in Diva!, Francesco Patierno’s hodgepodge of a valentine that cheekily has several actresses playing her at different times in her career as well as film clips and actual archival footage. Another noted director is feted in Marco Ferreri: Dangerous but Necessary, Anselma Dell’Olio’s sympathetic portrait of Italy’s enfant terrible who paraded crudely vicious satires like The Grand Bouffe, The Last Woman and The Ape Woman (the latter of which is showing during this series) during the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s.


Sergio Castellitto's Fortunata

Sergio Castellitto—a sensitive actor from noteworthy films by Marco Bellocchio, among others—returns with his latest directorial project, Fortunata. Again written by his wife Margaret Mazzantini and centering on Fortunata, a single mother dealing with her rambunctious young daughter, overbearing ex-husband and her kid’s therapist whom she falls for. Castellitto and Mazzantini take their ironically-named heroine’s woes and shove them down our throats, but Jasmine Trinca’s full-throttle performance in the title role makes this rather diffuse melodrama more than a bumpy ride.


In Boys Cry, another brother directing team, Damiano and Favio D’Innocenzo, presents a compelling if familiar look at Rome’s lower-class denizens and organized crime as a couple of friends who begin to relish their new assignment as mob hit men. The Place, Paolo Genovese’s stylish-looking but irredeemably shallow Twilight Zone-ish drama about a stranger who sits in a restaurant day after day and the desperate people who come looking for a way out of their miserable lives, starts out divertingly, then falls prey to a claustrophobic, mind-numbing sameness. 


As a priest who dangerously butts heads with local criminals in his hometown, Mimmo Borelli gives a forceful but restrained performance that centers Vincenzo Marra’s insightful character study Equilibrium. Similarly, in Francesca Comencini’s soggy romantic dramedy Stories of Love That Cannot Belong to This World—in which Lucia Mascino and Thomas Trabacci play mismatched lovers who meet cute, fight cute and break up not-so-cute—Valentina Belle, as in Rainbow, captivates as the new (younger) woman in the man’s life.


Ferzan Ozpetek's Naples in Veils

Finally, Naples in Veils is another of Ferzan Ozpetek’s elegant but empty dramas, as mysterious Naples co-stars in this weird tale of a medical examiner—after an amazing one-night stand with a young stud—discovers that not only might he be the corpse she’s conducting an autopsy on, but that he may have a twin brother, whom she (naturally) begins to fall for. As always, Giovanna Mezzogiorno invests the heroine with as much humanity, honesty and charm as she can, but Ozpetek’s too busy being cutesy and slippery to allow anything original to seep through.


Open Roads: New Italian Cinema 2018

Film Society of Lincoln Center, New York, NY

High Falls Film Festival Spotlights Rochester Talent


If films focused on women and their experiences are rare, women in roles behind the camera are rarer still. Shorter still is the list of film festivals with a mission to represent female perspectives. The 12th annual High Falls Film Festival — held in Rochester, New York, from October 23 - 26, 2014 — carries on its tradition of honoring independent films by female storytellers who work on both sides of the camera.

The opening film I Know a Woman Like That was produced by mother-daughter team Elaine and Virginia Madsen. Virginia, best known for Sideways (2004), produced the film that her mother — poet, producer and playwright Elaine — directed. The director will be on hand to discuss the movie. With Q&As following most films, festival goers get an ample opportunity to interact with filmmakers.

The festival will debut three world and two U.S. premieres among its 19 screenings of over 35 international and U.S. films, documentaries and shorts. Paula Hernandez's U.S. romantic drama Un Amor Argentina  about adolescent infatuation that unfolds over time into an enduring love triangle — premieres on October 23. Alexis Krasilovsky's U.S. documentary Let Them Eat Cake premieres October 24 and looks at pastries through a scope both sensual and socioeconomic.

Also debuting October 24 is Courtney Cobb's world-premiere documentary Crafting a Nation about the breweries behind the craft beer craze. A second world-premiere documentary is Caroline Krugmann's We Weren't Given Anything for Free, about 22-year-old Annita Malavasi becoming one of the Italian resistance's few female commanders in German-occupied Italy. Lastly, Ann LeSchander's romantic comedy The Park Bench uses both live action and animation to tell the story of a graduate student and her American Literature tutor falling in love over their park bench talks.

There will be three separate short programs: Short Cuts, the Women of SoFA Short Program put on by RIT's School of Film and Animation, and a free program of 14 Children's Shorts from five countries. One of these films has special Rochester interest, as it was made in the local Public School 8 after-school program.

Another feature of particular interest for Rochester-area film enthusiasts is the educational panel Lights, Camera Action: Tips for local Filmmakers. More than just adding local interest, these regional features foreground HFFF's affiliation with Rochester as the birthplace of motion picture film: George Eastman founded the Eastman Kodak Company in 1888 and invented motion picture film there, according to the HFFF website.

To learn more, go to:

High Falls Film Festival
October 23 - 26, 2014

Dryden Theatre
900 East Ave
Rochester, NY 14604

Little 5
240 East Ave

Rochester, NY 14604

Getting Real With "Red Hollywood" At The Film Society

The Film Society of Lincoln Center is screening Noël Burch and Thom Andersen’s not uninteresting essay-film, Red Hollywood, which explores the contribution of screenwriters who were Communists or fellow travelers, in its documentary series, The Art of the Real, which runs from April 11th to April 26th, 2014.

With his work of the 1960s and ‘70s, Burch emerged as one of the most important critics in the history of cinema, an arch-modernist dialectical materialist — although, as I understand it, with a Stalinist background — and went on to direct avant-garde films. He later repudiated his rejection of Hollywood and adopted a more sociological, less ultra-formalist approach —as reflected in Red Hollywood — dovetailing here with the interests of Andersen, an intriguing figure in his own right.
rh2The outcome of this collaboration is a work devoid of any aesthetic dimension but not without some intellectual rewards. It is a remarkable fact that of the many clips of old films employed in Red Hollywood, so few invite an artistic appreciation of the contributions of these victims of the McCarthyite blacklist. (That so many of the clips are from poor copies only enhances this impression.) One interesting exception is an extraordinary scene between Douglas Fairbanks Jr and Genevieve Tobin from the 1934 Success at Any Price, scripted by John Howard Lawson. At least as a piece of writing — and superb acting by Fairbanks — this is exceedingly impressive. Interviews with blacklistees such as Paul Jarrico, Alfred Levitt and Ring Lardner Jr are illuminating, but the real highlight among these is the brilliant commentary by Abraham Polonsky, probably the greatest writer and director among those expelled from Hollywood in the wake of the “Red Scare”. 
Red Hollywood screens on Saturday, April 12th at 6:30 pm and on Sunday, April 13th at 2pm.
Film Society of Lincoln Center
70 Lincoln Center Plaza
New York, NY  10023

212 875 5601212 875 5601

The Debut SR Socially Relevant Festival Offer Meaningful Fare This March

SRlogoThe Rated SR Socially Relevant Film Festival New York focuses on socially relevant human stories to raise awareness of social problems by offering positive solutions through the medium of cinema. 

A new non-profit film festival, it runs from March 14 to the 20th, 2014, at New York’s Quad Cinema; its main slate offers an international selection of narrative and documentary features representing a dozen nations.

Founded by award-winning actor, filmmaker and curator Nora Armani, the festival showcases films with human interest stories and socially impactful themes as a response to the proliferation of violent storytelling. 

The festival founders and supporters believe that by expanding knowledge about diverse cultures and the human condition as a whole, it’s possible to create a better world free of violence, hate and crime.

The festival shines the spotlight on filmmakers who tell compelling, socially relevant narratives across a broad range of social issues without resorting to gratuitous violence and violent forms of movie making.

Over 30 narrative and documentary films will screen including 12 features that compete for the Grand Prize — a week-long theatrical engagement at the Quad Cinema, courtesy of the QuadFlix Select Program. The 10 documentaries will compete for the documentary prize which offers the winner will a VOD DVD distribution deal courtesy of Cinema Libre Studio, a leader in the distribution of social issue documentaries and independent feature films.

The following lists the main slate of films in competition.  

Coney Island: Dreams for Sale
Alessandra Giordano
USA, 81min., 2013

Dovid Meyer
Paul Mones
USA/Israel, 101 min., 2013

Jean-Albert Lievre
France, 2014, 85min.

Forward 13: Waking Up the American Dream
Patrick Lovell
USA, 120 min., 2013

Full Circle
Zhang Yang
China, 2012,104min.

If Only Everyone
Nataliya Belyauskene
Armenia, 2012, 94min.

Indian Summer
Simon Brook
France, 84 min., 2013

My Love Awaits Me by the Sea (Habibi Biyestannani and el Bahr)
Mais Darwazah
Palestine, Qatar, Germany, Jordan
80min., 2013

Offside Trap (Abseitsfalle)
Stefan Hering
Germany, 98min., 2012

Orphans of the Genocide
Bared Maronian
USA, 91min., 2013

Small Small Thing
Jessica Vale
USA, 85min., 2013

Feature Documentary:

Coal Rush
Lorena Luciano & Filipo Piscopo
USA, 85min., 2013

Chris Bravo, Lindsey Schneider
USA, 50min., 2013 (NYFA artist)

Destiny’s Bridge
Jack Ballo
USA, 80min., 2013 (NYFA artist)

Fred Ho's Last Year
Steven de Castro
USA, 58min., 2013

From the Black You Make Color
Richie Sherman and Judy Maltz
USA, Israel, 75min., 2012

Hamshen Community at the Crossroads of Past and Present
Lucine Sahakyan
Armenia, Turkey, 60min., 2012

Not Who We Are
Carol Mansour
Lebanon, 72min., 2013

Stable Life
Sara MacPherson
USA, 52min., 2013

The Throwaways
Bhawin Suchak
USA, 62min., 2013

Journalist/author/radio commentator Amy Goodman, host of  will deliver the keynote address on "The Impact of Socially Relevant Films" and will present an award for a film in the Rated SR Social Justice Category.  Democracy Now! currently aired by more than 1,000 radio, television, satellite and cable TV networks in North America, and watched in dozens of countries via the Internet.

Partner supporters include:

· Academic partner, the School of the Visual Arts Social Documentary department, home of the new MFA in Social Documentary filmmaking.

· Dailymotion (, the official video media partner. A selection of close to 100 film trailers from the festival submissions are viewable on an official festival page, garnering close to 100,000 visits to date.

· Village Voice (Media partner)

Other promotional partners of the festival include: 

NYFA, Indieflix, Unifrance Films International, Cineuropa, Alouette Communications, FIAF, Samuel Infirmier, Final Draft and Center for Remembering and Sharing.

New-York based metalsmith designer Michael Aram has donated a special trophy to be awarded to the recognized Rated SR honoree. 

The festival also presents the Vanya Exerjian award to a film that raises awareness to violence against women and girls, in commemoration of Armani’s late cousin and uncle, victims of a violent hate crime.

The closing night includes the Awards Ceremony reception which takes place at the Tenri Center (across from the Quad Cinema) where one can applaud the winners, see the filmmakers win their awards, and view the closing night films all on one night.

A portion of the proceeds from ticket sales each year of the festival will be donated to a charity selected from the fields of: poverty, homelessness, cancer and aging. Rated SR aims to promote positive social change through the powerful medium of cinema.   

For tickets there is a variety of packages and discounted ticket options are now on sale at:

Individual tickets are available at Quad Cinema:

Rated SR Socially Relevant Film Festival New York
March 14-20, 2014

The Quad Cinema
34 West 13th Street
New York, NY

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