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New Italian Cinema in San Francisco

New Italian Cinema Returns for the 13th Triumphant Year in San Francisco at Landmark's Embarcadero Center Cinema, November 15–22, 2009.

The mainstay of New Italian Cinema is the competitive section featuring seven films by emerging directors. NIC opens with a three-film tribute to director Marco Risi, one of Italy's most celebrated filmmakers and closes with Marco Bellocchio's latest tour de force, Vincere, an operatic take on the true story of Mussolini's first wife and their secret child.

“The 2009 New Italian Cinema festival offers yet another provocative, yet often light-hearted, lineup of recent works by up-and-coming directors,” said Film Society programmer Rod Armstrong. “This year's edition covers issues of local politics, father-son relationships, romantic conundrums and mafia depredations.

The New Italian Cinema Events (NICE) organization in Florence—working with selection committee members Rod Armstrong and journalists Deborah Young and Barbara Corsi—chose the best Italian entries from the year's major European film festivals to present in the 2009 New Italian Cinema competition. Most filmmakers are expected at the Embarcadero for Q&As with the audiences. The NICE City of Florence Award will be decided by audience ballot and announced at the Closing Night Award presentation following the screening of Vincere.

The Opening Night presentation is the West Coast Premiere of Fortapàsc, directed by Marco Risi, who will be presernt.  The film relays the account of Neapolitan journalist Giancarlo Siani, who was murdered in 1985 for his reporting on the local crime organization, the Camorra. Risi's fast-paced, coolly observational drama pays tribute to Siani's life and reportage by detailing the events leading up to his death. With Libero de Rienzo, Valentina Lodovini, Massimiliano Gallo, Michele Riondino and Ernesto Mahieux.

Following the opening night film is Marco Risi in Retrospect, featuring films that show the broad range of Risi's talent, from gritty drama to female-focused farce. Films include: Three Wives (Tre mogli), a farcical road-trip movie about three women from different socioeconomic classes who chase their husbands across Argentina, where the men have fled after they rob an Italian bank, starring Francesca d'Aloja, Iaia Forte and Silke Klein. Boys on the Outside (Ragazzi fuori) is Risi’s hard-hitting story of crime and joblessness among Palermo youth who leave a juvenile reformatory and try to reenter society. Featuring stunning performances by several nonprofessional actors. With Francesco Benigno, Maurizio Prollo, Alessandro di Sanzo, Roberto Mariano.

Also included in the program are City of Florence Award Competition Films, many of which are having North American premieres. Among them are:

The Sicilian Girl (La siciliana ribelle), directed by Marco Amenta who will be in attendance. The film is about 17-year-old Rita Atria, who visits a tireless anti-Mafia judge to denounce the organization responsible for the murders of her father and brother. With Veronica d'Agostino, Gérard Jugnot, Miriana Faja.

The North American Premiere of Ex, directed by Fausto Brizzi, who will also be in attendance. This mostly comic study focuses on six different couples and the ups and downs of their relationships. With Claudio Bisio, Alessandro Gassman, Cécile Cassel, Nancy Brilli, Cristiana Capotondi.

The House in the Clouds (La casa sulle nuvole), also a North American Premiere, directed by Claudio Giovannesi who also will attend. Two brothers of different temperaments attempt to come to terms with their irresponsible and self-absorbed parents in this intimate family drama. With Emanuele Bosi, Adriano Giannini, Emilio Bonucci.

Another North America Premiere is Different from Whom? (Diverso da chi?), with director Umberto Carteni attending. Carteni's comedic debut concerns a gay man whose life is complicated when he runs for office in a right-wing town. With Luca Argentero, Claudia Gerini, Filippo Nigro.

The Closing Night film is the West Coast Premiere of Vincere, Marco Bellocchio's latest masterpiece about the life of Ida Dalser, the mother of Benito Mussolini's only acknowledged illegitimate child. With Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Filippo Timi, Fausto Russo Alesi, Corinne Castelli.

New Italian Cinema is presented in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute, San Francisco under the auspices of the Consulate General of Italy.

Full schedule and information: www.sffs.org.

Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You to Be at MoMA

For the fourth year in a row, The Museum of Modern Art is collaborating with the Independent Feature Project and Filmmaker Magazine, the organization’s quarterly publication, to screen the five films nominated for the IFP Gotham Independent Film Award, “Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You.”

The exhibition, run by the MoMA’s Department of Film, will be held from Nov. 19th to Nov. 22nd at the museum’s Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters. Senior members of Filmmaker’s editorial staff selected the nominees, each of which represents the year’s best American independent films that have screened at festivals but have yet to be picked up for theatrical distribution.

Films in the running this year include:

Everything Strange and New
directed by Frazer Bradshaw
About a San Franciscan carpenter dealing with the monotony of his mid-life, Bradshaw’s directorial debut has already earned him the critics’ prize at the San Francisco International Film Festival.

Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench
directed by Damien Chazelle
Shot on a shoestring budget, this is a spirited mix of a downtown slacker relationship drama and a Hollywood movie musical.

October Country
directed by Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher
The feature-length documentary about a troubled, working-class family dealing with issues of poverty, teen pregnancy, abuse and war has already won the Grand Jury prize at this year’s Silverdocs.

You Won’t Miss Me
directed by Ry Russo-Young
Presented at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, the film’s screenwriter, Stella Schnabel, portrays a self-destructive 23-year-old woman.

Zero Bridge
directed by Tariq Tapa
The film, discovered at this year’s Venice and Karlovy Vary Film Festivals, depicts daily life in the war-torn city of Srinagar, Kashmir, as seen through the eyes of a teenage pickpocket in love with a girl whose passport he stole.

Those nominated filmmakers will introduce their works in select screenings and will take part in a Q&A session afterwards. The winner will be announced at 19th Annual IFP Gotham Independent Film Awards, to be held Nov. 30.

As the first honors of the film awards season, the Gotham Independent Film Awards helps independent films expands its audience and supports the work that IFP does throughout the year to bring such films to fruition.

The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd Street New York City
Nov. 19 to Nov. 22

For more information, check out: http://moma.org/visit/calendar/films/1013

33rd Annual Margaret Mead Film & Video Festival

The Margaret Mead Film & Video Festival—the longest-running documentary film festival in the United States—celebrate 33 years at the American Museum of Natural History from Thursday, November 12  through Sunday, November 15, 2009 at the Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Theater, Kaufmann Theater, Linder Theater, and the People Center, all at the American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street, in New York City.

Screening an outstanding and varied selection of titles culled from more than 1,000 submissions, the Festival is distinguished by extraordinary films that tackle diverse and challenging subjects, as well as exciting discussions with filmmakers and special guest speakers. The Festival presents a far-reaching selection of documentaries and other non-narrative works as well as animation, experimental films, and indigenous media.

This year, the Mead will highlight a series of films in conjunction with the Museum’s exhibition Traveling the Silk Road. This series includes Hair India (Raffaele Brunetti and Marco Leopardi, NY Premiere), a stirring story about a destitute family’s religious sacrifice of hair that is processed and ultimately sold for profit; and Cooking History (Péter Kerekes, director in person, NY Premiere), an exploration of the customs and conflicts of food on the frontlines, from serving up savory blinis to Soviet soldiers fighting off Nazi armies to feeding French forces during the Algerian War.

Other Festival highlights include Babaji, an Indian Love Story (Jiska Rickels, US Premiere), a captivating tale about a centenarian man near Hazaribagh, India who has dug a grave next to his late wife’s and descends into it each morning to await death; Beyond the Game (Jos de Putter, director in person, US Premiere), a behind-the-scenes look at the tight-knit and competitive community of cybergamers that follows the top players of Warcraft III, the most popular game globally, on their way to the professional world championships; and Blind Loves (Juraj Lehotsky, NY Premiere), an emotional story about four non-sighted subjects as they demonstrate and discuss their passions and anxieties while managing independent lives.

Also included is an exploration of the science and history behind Terra Nova: Sinfonia Antarctica, a new multimedia performance by Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky), which incorporates the sounds of melting ice recorded by Miller in Antarctica.

Films are set in Austria, Bosnia, Czech Republic, China, Croatia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Sweden, The Netherlands, and United States.

Tickets can be purchased by phone at 212-769-5200, online at www.amnh.org/mead, or at any of the American Museum of Natural History admission desks.

For more information, the public should call 212-769-5305, or
download the schedule at www.amnh.org/programs/mead.

Another Season of New French Films

Every November, The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) presents a series, modestly titled New French Films, that gives New York film lovers their first chance to see a quintet of the latest features from France. It takes place this year from November 11th to the 15th, 2009.

This year’s selections are highlighted by the new film by Francois Ozon, best known for the creepy Swimming Pool and whose Angel had its local premiere at BAM in this series two years ago. But the best film among the five chosen is Alain Cavalier’s Irene. Although his 1986 film Therese, a quietly poetic biography about St. Thérèse of Lisieux, is among the true masterpieces of the past quarter-century, Cavalier’s name registers nary a blip on anybody’s radar nowadays (with the partial exception of a recent re-release of his debut, Le Combat dans l’île), so seeing Irene—an achingly emotional tribute to his late wife, actress Irene Tunc, who died in a car accident in 1972—is a rare privilege.

None of the other films is up to Cavalier’s level, but Grown Ups, Anne Novion’s modest character study, shows a level of maturity for a first-time feature director. When a middle-aged divorcee takes his 17-year-old daughter on her first trip to Sweden, their rental house is occupied by two women, a tense arrangement which Novion smartly uses to transform all of her characters, creating an original coming-of-age film across three generations even as it concentrates on the teen, wonderfully played by Anaïs Demoustier.

For those who like spotting French actors and actresses, Park Benches, by actor-director Bruno Podalydes, is a “Where’s Waldo”-type diversion. In his sprawling canvas (86 speaking roles!) of various relationships in the thriving city of Versailles, Podalydes is just one of dozens of stars who barely make an impression: in 110 minutes of soap opera-ish antics, we move among so many people and places that no one and no plot line register. As minor compensation, there are the likes of Catherine Deneuve, Mathieu Amalric, Pierre Arditti and Denis Podalydes (Bruno’s brother).

The series’ biggest disappointment is Please Please Me! by actor-writer-director Emmanuel Mouret, who doesn’t deserve the “French Woody Allen” appellation he has gotten. Mouret deadpannedly plays goofballs who somehow attract all sorts of attractive women (here it’s Judith Godrèche, Déborah François, Frédérique Bel), but with no screen presence, he further drains his already arid and unoriginal concepts of any comedic life. At least his last mess, Shall We Kiss?, was brightened by the presence of Virginie Ledoyen. And, apropos the English title, there’s not even a Beatles song to pep things up.

New French Films
BAMCinematek
BAM Rose Cinemas
30 Lafayette Avenue
Brooklyn

November 11-15, 2009

contact for a full schedule: bam.org

 

 

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