Italian Celebration Hones Hollywood Ties

Nick Vivarelli
·4-min read

As Italy’s film and TV industry forges ahead after bearing the brunt of the pandemic in 2020, the Filming Italy — Los Angeles fest, which is a bridgehead between Italy and Hollywood, is pulling out all the stops to drive and promote the country’s restart effort.

After Filming Italy miraculously managed to hold its sister shindig as a physical edition on the island of Sardinia last summer, the upcoming March 18-21 Los Angeles event will be mostly online. But going virtual has just prompted Italian marketing guru Tiziana Rocca, a longtime Italian industry promoter, to double her efforts.

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This year the former Taormina Film Festival general manager is serving up twice the number of titles — a selection of more than 50 features, TV skeins, docs and shorts — and a marathon medley of 25 master classes, starting with Edoardo Ponti, director of Sophia Loren-starrer “The Life Ahead,” in conversation with Diane Warren, who wrote the film’s theme song “Io Si (Seen).” The song recently scored a Golden Globe for Warren.

“The entire industry is suffering,” says Rocca. “So I worked to broaden the scope to all industry sectors and also bring the event to film students across Italy and in the U.S.

“I want Filming Italy — Los Angeles to be a stimulus and provide hope for future filmmakers.”

Italy, which was initially among countries hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis, is also among the first countries in the world where film and TV production restarted after the peak of the pandemic, and is now trying to become among the first in Europe to reopen movie theaters in the next couple of weeks.

The Filming Italy — Los Angeles selection features standout titles from last year’s Venice Film Festival — one of the few major international fests to take place physically — such as Susanna Nicchiarelli’s “Miss Marx,” about Karl Marx’s ill-fated younger daughter Eleanor, a fervent feminist pioneer, and emerging actor-director Pietro Castellitto’s dark comedy “The Predators,” which won the screenplay prize in Venice’s Horizons section.

Also featured are standout Italian titles from other international fests, including dark drama “Bad Tales” by twin brothers Damiano and Fabio D’Innocenzo, which won the Berlin 2020 screenplay award.

Italian artisans will be celebrated in Gianfranco Giagni’s documentary “Sartoria Tirelli — Vestire il cinema,” about multi-Oscar-winning Italian costume design house Tirelli. The artisan house regularly works with director Matteo Garrone, whose live-action “Pinocchio,” was released in the U.S. by Roadside Attractions and has been Oscar nominated for hair and makeup. “Pinocchio” production designer Dimitri Capuani and his multi-Oscar-winning colleagues Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo will be participating in Filming Italy master classes.

Italy’s restrained and realistic approach to visual effects will be on display in the TV series “Romulus,” shot in Archaic Latin by director Matteo Rovere. The project takes its cue from the mythical tale of twins Romulus and Remus, founders of Rome, and launched from the Rome Film Festival in October, which was also held physically.

As always, Rocca is championing women through her partnership with Women in Film, TV & Media Italia, the Italian branch of Los Angeles-based Women in Film, headed by former Warner Bros. Italy TV distribution chief Domizia De Rosa. The org will select several shorts by emerging Italian female filmmakers that will be showcased at the event.

This year’s Woman Power Award will go to Cecilia Peck, director of doc series “Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult,” about the modern-day sex-slave cult NXIVM, which will screen.

Italian actors Stefania Sandrelli, Paola Cortellesi, Margherita Buy, Elena Sofia Ricci and Valentina Lodovini will attend master classes.

Prominent Italian director Alice Rohrwacher’s short “Omelia Contadina” (“Peasant Homily”), about preserving Italy’s ancient agricultural traditions, will have its U.S. premiere at the fest.

The event’s honorary president is Italian actor Claudia Gerini (“Suburra”), who will hold an opening day master class. Harvey Keitel reps the U.S. as the event’s other honorary president.

As a special event, Filming Italy — Los Angeles will also celebrate the 700th anniversary of the death of poet Dante Alighieri on March 25 with a screening of 1911 silent film “L’inferno,” by Francesco Bertolini, recently restored by the Cineteca di Bologna archives, and a taping of Roberto Benigni’s stage adaptation of Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” which toured in Italy and internationally. There will also be readings of the poet’s works by special guests, including Danny Huston, William Baldwin, and Italian actors Monica Guerritore and Michele Placido.

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