After speaking with Giovanna De Luca about the upcoming Eighth Annual Nuovo Cinema Italiano Film Festival, I texted my mom lamenting the fact that I have no Italian genes in my very Anglo-Saxon heritage. This love of Italians stays true despite the fact that this year’s fest features a majority of films about the economic troubles occurring in Italy. It’s the way these movies take on the struggling financial scene that is precisely the reason behind my Italian love. Instead of making depressing films, the Italian cinematic community uses comedy to highlight the country’s strife.
“Comedy in Italy is a little more cynical, more of a social criticism,” explains De Luca, the festival’s founder and a professor at College of Charleston. “Many of these films reflect that there’s a struggle. I just realized this when I was putting them all together — there’s a link of economy.”
Take I Can Quit Whenever, where an academic needs extra money and starts dealing a not-quite legal, but not illegal psychotic. It’s like an Italian Breaking Bad. According to De Luca, academics are also struggling economically. “[These films] were made to make some angry, to get mad,” she explains.
Another example of one of the flicks that addresses the financial situation in Italy is See You Tomorrow, which finds a guy hard on his luck moving to a quaint Italian village with an aging population. He opens a funeral business in hopes of taking advantage of the senior citizens, but things don’t go as planned.
However, not all films are about the current state of the Italian economy. There’s some lighthearted ones thrown in too, like The Referee, a black-and-white flick that looks at the world of football beyond goals and players.
De Luca carefully chooses the selections based on the demographics of the festival audience. She wants to make sure she picks good films; many of the films have won awards on the International Film Festival Circuit. Quiet Bliss was shown on the opening night at this year’s Berlin Film Festival. And The Human Capital is the Italian candidate for the Oscars.
“I also want to try to understand what can be, the demographics of Charleston that are changing a little bit,” she says. De Luca wants to tap into that and highlight potential areas of interest, which is one of the reasons she wanted to screen Italian Americans. The PBS documentary will premiere before it’s shown across the country. It’s also the only English language film in the festival — the rest are Italian with English subtitles. It’s the fourth part of the series and showcases a different side of Italian Americans, away from the mafia, the mob, and the women in the kitchen. De Luca believes the series will premiere on PBS on Feb. 15, 2015.
This year’s fest has 11 films playing from Nov. 6-9. Tickets to each screening are $6, and some of the filmmakers will make appearances at the showings. For more information, visit nuovocinemaitaliano.com.