Cinema Made in Italy: London’s hottest cinematic extravaganza returns this spring! Interviews alert!

London’s vibrant cultural scene is gearing up to welcome back the eagerly awaited Cinema Made in Italy festival from 20th to 24th March 2024. Organised by Cinecittà, in collaboration with the French Institute in London and The Italian Cultural Institute, this year marks the festival’s 14th edition, promising to showcase the cream of Italian cinema from the past year.

Cinema Made in Italy acts as a launchpad for the freshest Italian film-making talent, with a lineup featuring several films making their UK premieres alongside a classic Italian movie.

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Nicola Maccanico, CEO of Cinecittà, underscores the festival’s commitment to inclusivity and diversity, with 50% of the films directed by women and 30% being debut features. Amongst the eagerly anticipated films is Paola Cortellesi’s “There Is Still Tomorrow,” which soared to become Italy’s highest-grossing film of the year, winning over audiences nationwide.

Other standout offerings include Alice Rohrwacher’s “La Chimera,” Edoardo De Angelis’ “Comandante,” and Ginevra Elkann’s “I Told You So,” each offering a fresh take on contemporary Italian society.

Beyond film screenings, Cinema Made in Italy offers audiences the chance to engage with film-makers through Q&A sessions following select screenings, providing insights into the creative process behind each film.

The festival also celebrates Italian animation with the screening of “Chicken For Linda!” which clinched the Cristal Award at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival. For aficionados of classic cinema, Luchino Visconti’s 1951 masterpiece “Bellissima” starring Anna Magnani will be showcased in a fully restored 4K version, offering a glimpse into the golden age of Italian cinema.

Here’s my chat with Diane Gabrysiak, director of Cine Lumiere, and Adrian Wootton OBE, Chief Executive of Film London (the agency charged with developing the screen industries in the capital) and the British Film Commission, the unit responsible for promoting the UK as the best place to produce feature films and high-end television. Film London – the agency charged with developing the film and media industry in the capital.

 

What are your favourite highlights of this year’s Cinema Made in Italy 2024 festival lineup? Are there any standout films or events that audiences should be particularly excited about?

Diane Gabrysiak: For me, two films truly shine: “Chicken for Linda,” an animation co-production between France and Italy that scooped a prestigious award. This delightful film ingeniously explores life in the Paris suburbs, infusing it with humour and innovation reminiscent of 70s and 80s French and Italian comedy. Its joyous and unique storytelling appeals to audiences of all ages, offering layers of depth and entertainment rarely seen in animation.

Equally captivating is Alice Rohrwacher’s “La Chimera.” Having experienced it first-hand at Cannes, I was struck by Rohrwacher’s distinctive voice in Italian cinema. She effortlessly weaves childhood memories into universal narratives, juxtaposing the contemporary world with traces of Etruscan history. With brilliant performances, including that of Isabella Rossellini, “La Chimera” promises to be a thought-provoking and visually stunning experience.

made in Italy I told you so movie scene

Alba Rohrwacher in I Told You So

Additionally, the classic masterpiece “Bellissima” by Luchino Visconti will be presented in a restored format to commemorate Anna Magnani’s 50th death anniversary. Despite its age, the film remains timeless, offering audiences a glimpse into the golden era of Italian cinema. 

anna magnani bellissima

Anna Magnani in film “Bellissima” by Luchino Visconti

Returning to the present, Paola Cortellesi’s directorial debut, “There’s Still Tomorrow,” brings black and white back into focus. Delving into both the past and present, Cortellesi speaks directly to contemporary audiences, tackling issues of feminism and patriarchy with wit and insight. Its tremendous success in Italy, even surpassing box office giants like Barbie, underscores its relevance and impact. At Cine Lumiere, we’ve witnessed unprecedented demand for screenings, a testament to the film’s ability to spark important conversations about gender equality and domestic violence. We’re committed to meeting this demand by adding more screenings to accommodate eager audiences.

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“There’s still tomorrow” by Paola Cortellesi

Adrian Wootton: This year’s lineup truly showcases the vibrancy of Italian cinema, with a healthy mix of established film-makers and exciting newcomers making their mark. What’s particularly striking is the diversity within the group, with a significant presence of female directors, many of whom are making their debut.

One film that’s generating considerable buzz is “There’s Still Tomorrow” by debut director Paola Cortellesi. Despite being better known as a performer, Cortellesi’s directorial debut has made waves in Italy, surpassing even the likes of Barbie and Oppenheimer to become one of the biggest Italian films in the last 25 years. Set just after the war, it offers a fresh and original take on the period, focusing on a mother’s struggle for independence amidst the backdrop of post-war Italy. Its exploration of family life and women’s fight for suffrage adds layers of depth to this impressive feature film debut.

Kicking off the festival is a riveting war movie “Comandante” starring Francesco Favino, based on a true story of extraordinary courage and defiance against military orders. It’s a powerful way to set the tone for the festival, drawing viewers into a gripping narrative from the outset.

"Comandante" starring Francesco Favino

“Comandante” starring Francesco Favino

Closing the festival is Alice Rohrwacher’s captivating film “La Chimera,” which delves into the intriguing world of archaeological treasures and scandal. Based on a true story, Rohrwacher weaves a magical and mystical tale that promises to leave audiences spellbound.

In between, there’s something for everyone, from children’s animation to classic masterpieces like Visconti’s “Bellissima.” “Adagio,” a thrilling action movie, will keep viewers on the edge of their seats with its non-stop excitement.

And let’s not forget about “Oceans,” a beautiful contemporary debut feature set in Latin America, offering a fresh perspective on cinema.

With a diverse range of films, including adaptations of classic novels and historical war dramas, this year’s Cinema Made in Italy promises to be a cinematic treat for all audiences.

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What’s your favourite Italian movie of all time and why?

Diane Gabrysiak: I have several favourites, but “Ludwig” by Visconti holds a special place in my heart. Its rich storytelling and timeless appeal make it a film worth revisiting time and again.

Adrian Wootton: It’s tough to pick just one, but I have a deep appreciation for the works of the Taviani Brothers. Their films are incredibly original and thought-provoking, leaving a lasting impression on audiences. “Rainbow: A Private Affair” is a standout example of their talent and vision. Cinecitta’ has just published a wonderful book about their work. 

What are your thoughts on the current state of Italian cinema in terms of creativity, innovation, and international recognition? In comparison to other film industries, what do you believe are the strengths and weaknesses of Italian cinema?

Diane Gabrysiak: Here in the UK, unfortunately, mainstream Italian films are not as widely available. However, Italian cinema enjoys a strong presence in international film festivals. Many Italian productions are known for their creativity, often collaborating with French film-makers, creating a close link between the two industries. Personally, I find it easier to draw comparisons with French cinema rather than British cinema. In France, you have the big-budget productions that tend to stay domestic, alongside a plethora of art-house films that travel to festivals — a dynamic I find particularly charming. Italy also produces excellent documentary work. Cinema Made in Italy serves as an exceptional platform to showcase the talents of Italian cinema, including films like “Oceans“.

Adrian Wootton: Italian film-makers often express the challenges of securing funding and international distribution. Despite these obstacles, Italian cinema continues to thrive, with a significant number of films making waves at international film festivals and garnering global attention. From established legends like Marco Bellocchio, who continues to produce outstanding work, to emerging talents making their mark, there’s a diverse range of voices contributing to the richness of Italian cinema.

The Cinema Made in Italy festival reflects this vitality, showcasing fresh and distinctive films from both seasoned directors and newcomers every year. Despite financial and distribution challenges, the talent within Italian culture perseveres, producing captivating and innovative work that captivates audiences worldwide.

Personally, I recently attended a showcase of Italian films in Berlin, where I witnessed the debut of young cinema talent, further underscoring the vibrancy of Italian film-making. In my view, the state of Italian cinema is excellent, and I’m genuinely excited about its future. Events like Cinema Made in Italy play a crucial role in spotlighting both established film-makers and emerging voices, shaping the trajectory of Italian cinema for years to come.

 

Cinema Made in Italy is not just a showcase of cinematic artistry; it’s a celebration of the enduring cultural exchange between Italy and the UK.

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