A scene from WEDDINGS AND OTHER DISASTERS, playing at New Italian Cinema, November 14 – 21 at Landmark’s Embarcadero Center Cinema. Courtesy of San Francisco Film Society

The San Francisco Film Society, New Italian Cinema Events of Florence, Italy and the Italian Cultural Institute of San Francisco present New Italian Cinema, November 14 – 21 at Landmark’s Embarcadero Center Cinema. The eight-day festival is dedicated to bringing Italy’s newest directors and films to Bay Area audiences and celebrating the country’s rich cinematic tradition. The 2010 edition opens with Ferzan Ozpetek’s humorous drama Loose Cannons and a three-film retrospective of this talented and prolific auteur’s work, and closes with Paolo Virzì’s moving new film The First Beautiful Thing. The core program of New Italian Cinema features seven recent films by breakthrough filmmakers vying for the City of Florence Award.

“Cultural differences, fraught families and the mysteries of love wend their way through the films featured in this year’s New Italian Cinema festival,” said Film Society programmer Rod Armstrong. “We’re also thrilled to present a retrospective of four Ferzan Ozpetek films as well as the latest work by the masterful Paolo Virzì, The First Beautiful Thing, which is this year’s Italian submission for the Best Foreign Film Oscar.”

Each year the New Italian Cinema Events (NICE) organization in Florence — working with selection committee members Rod Armstrong and journalists Deborah Young and Barbara Corsi — chooses the best Italian entries from the year’s major European film festivals to present in the New Italian Cinema competition. Many 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 6:00 pm screening of The First Beautiful Thing on Sunday, November 21.

Sunday, November 14  Opening Night
6:15 pm Loose Cannons
Director in person
Ferzan Ozpetek (Mine vaganti, 2010)
Tommaso thinks he has the perfect way to escape working in his family’s pasta factory: telling his father he’s gay. Though the matriarch of the Cantone clan advises her relatives to follow their own dreams, most of them feel beholden to the family’s business and reputation. So Tommaso’s aunt drinks and frets over a romance gone awry, his mom tolerates her husband’s affairs and Tommaso himself frets over what to do when his boyfriend arrives in Puglia. With a memorable panoply of characters, Ozpetek’s latest dissection of family, love and personal liberation is full of humor and heart. Written by Ivan Cotroneo, Ferzan Ozpetek. Photographed by Maurizio Calvesi. With Riccardo Scamarcio, Nicole Grimaudo, Alessandro Preziosi. 110 min, Fandango Portobello.
9:00 pm Opening Night Reception with rustic appetizers and complimentary beverages at Cigar Bar & Grill, a gorgeous venue with indoor and outdoor seating and an array of artwork from local artists, at 850 Montgomery Street between Pacific and Jackson streets.
9:15 pm A Perfect Day
Director in person
Ferzan Ozpetek (Un giorno perfetto, 2008)
In this tense drama, Ozpetek presents an engaging cross-section of Roman society, portraying two families from different classes over a shattering 24-hour period. A professional bodyguard (an unforgettable Valerio Mastandrea) still obsesses over his brassy, sexy ex (Isabella Ferrari) and their two kids, and he’s willing to go to shocking lengths to assuage his raging feelings of jealousy and loss. The bodyguard works for a wealthy politician whose life is also in upheaval; his re-election is far from assured, and his pretty young wife is involved in a surprising romance. Ozpetek’s film weaves a rich tapestry with numerous supporting characters, all of whom factor importantly in the fabric of the story. When the end comes, some matters remain unresolved and some destinies open-ended, but the day will have changed these people’s lives forever. Written by Ferzan Ozpetek, Sandro Petraglia. Photographed by Fabio Zamarion. With Valerio Mastandrea, Isabella Ferrari, Stefania Sandrelli. 100 min, Fandango Portobello.

Monday, November 15 
Ferzan Ozpetek Retrospective
Dive further into the complex and rewarding work of one of Italy’s most-lauded directors.
6:00 pm Facing Windows
Director in person
Ferzan Ozpetek (La finestra di fronte, 2003)
Shifting elegantly between past and present, this award-winning drama tells the story of a woman unhappy in her marriage and job who fantasizes about the man living in the building across from her. Interwoven with her predicament is that of an older man with amnesia whose history and personal experience inform her life decisions. Once again, Ozpetek concerns himself with the impact of the past on the present and the way in which memory and regret affect our capacity for happiness. Giovanna Mezzogiorno (Vincere, Flying Lessons) deservedly won the David di Donatello award for Best Actress for her performance as the central character. Written by Ferzan Ozpetek, Gianni Romoli. Photographed by Gianfilippo Corticelli. With Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Raoul Bova, Filippo Nigro. 106 min, Sony Pictures Classics.
8:45 pm Steam: The Turkish Bath
Director in person
Ferzan Ozpetek (Hamam, 1997)
Ozpetek’s poignant debut feature depicts the self-discovery of a married Italian businessman who inherits a Turkish steam bath. When Francesco (Alessandro Gassman) first goes to Istanbul after his aunt’s death, he plans on quickly selling off whatever property is now his. Discovering that he’s inherited an ancient bathhouse rather than the modest house he imagined, Francesco soon finds himself entranced by the culture and traditions of this remarkable space. He is similarly taken with Istanbul itself, and in particular, the son of the family he’s staying with. Steam poignantly demonstrates how personal fulfillment is found in the most unexpected places. Written by Ferzan Ozpetek, Stefano Tummolini. Photgraphed by Pasquale Mari. With Alessandro Gassman, Francesca d’Aloja, Carlo Cecchi. 94 min, in Turkish and Italian with subtitles, Strand Releasing.

Tuesday, November 16 
City of Florence Award Competition Films
6:00 pm Ten Winters
Director in person
Valerio Mieli (Dieci inverni, 2009)
On a boat to Venice in 1999, Silvestro and Camilla meet and spend the night together in a small house owned by Camilla’s family. Over the course of the next decade, their relationship encounters a variety of shifts, deftly dramatized in Valerio Mieli’s touching romantic drama. The story evolves over subsequent winters as new friends and romantic partners are introduced, continually thwarting the couple’s chance of falling in love. While never losing sight of the two leads at the heart of the story, Ten Winters presents a fully imagined world of supporting characters, offering memorable insights into missed opportunities and the stark realities of life. Written by Isabella Aguilar, Davide Lantieri, Valerio Mieli. Photographed by Marco Onorato. With Isabella Ragonese, Michele Riondino, Glen Blackhall. 99 min, in Russian and Italian with subtitles, Rai Trade.
Preceded on November 16 only by REC, Stop & Play (2010), directed by Emanuele Pisano. The need for communication moves the strings of three intersecting stories. 11 min.
8:45 pm I Am Glad You Are Here
Director in person
Luis Prieto (Meno male che ci sei, 2009)
Seventeen-year-old Allegra is left reeling in the wake of her parents’ tragic accident. A subsequent discovery that her father had been having an affair causes further confusion and grief. Luis Prieto’s surprising and touching drama takes a turn when, after initial wariness, the two women end up forming a consistently complex and mutually supportive friendship. As each embarks on new romantic liaisons, the personal dynamic shifts and the pair is forced to negotiate new boundaries for their unconventional relationship. Anchoring the film are compelling performances from Claudia Gerini (Ex and Different from Whom?, NIC 2009) as Luisa and newcomer Chiara Martegiani as Allegra. Written by Federica Pontremoli, Maria Daniela Raineri. Photographed by Patrizio Patrizi. With Claudia Gerini, Chiara Martegiani, Stefania Sandrelli. 101 min, Focus Features International.

Wednesday, November 17 
City of Florence Award Competition Films
6:00 pm Clash of Civilization over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio  North American Premiere
Director in person
Isotta Toso (Scontro di civiltà per un ascensore a Piazza Vittorio, 2010)
In an apartment building in Rome, a surly young man named Lorenzo is involved in a crime, and it’s up to the residents to piece together what happened in this wide-ranging study of clashing cultures. Lorenzo’s brother, Marco, is a burned-out lawyer who consistently questions his profession’s relationship with the truth. The unhappy Nurit, a judge from Iran seeking political asylum, similarly frets about truth and wonders if silence isn’t the better option. When one occupant’s disguised nationality is revealed via a hidden passport, the building dwellers find that speaking up and doing what is right often trump the validity of facts. Written by Isotta Toso, Maura Vespini. Photographed by Fabio Zamarion. With Ninetto Davoli, Milena Vukotic, Serra Yilmaz. 96 min, IntraMovies.
8:45 pm Raise Your Head
Director in person
Alessandro Angelini (Alza la testa, 2009)
From the director of Salt Air (NIC 2007) comes this moving story of a demanding father who is forced to confront his harsh nature and various prejudices. A shipyard worker (the inimitable Sergio Castellitto) is training his beloved teenaged son Lorenzo in boxing. When an accident befalls the boy, the father comes in contact with two women — one of whom is transsexual — who each have a unique connection to his son. Director Angelini deftly delves into the complex nature of paternal relationships, sexuality and illegal immigration. Castellitto amazes as a man beset by anger and disappointment who discovers his inherent humanity in a most surprising fashion. Written by Alessandro Angelini, Angelo Carbone, Francesca Marciano. Photographed by Amaldo Catinari. With Sergio Castellitto, Anita Kravos, Giorgio Colangeli. 87 min, Rai Trade.

Thursday, November 18 
City of Florence Award Competition Films
6:00 pm 18 Years Later
Director in person
Edoardo Leo (18 anni dopo, 2010)
In this winning road movie, two estranged brothers traveling in a restored convertible are obliged to deliver their father’s ashes to his hometown in Calabria. Genziano (cowriter Marco Bonini) and Mirko (cowriter/director Edoardo Leo) haven’t spoken for 18 years, ever since the occurrence of a mysterious accident involving their mother. After the incident, Genziano emigrates to England while Mirko stays at home to work in their father’s auto shop. As they travel across Italy, the brothers revisit and fight about various family secrets. A touching and funny work about sibling relations, 18 Years Later showcases the collaborative teamwork of Leo and Bonini and the picturesque Calabrian countryside. Written by Marco Bonini, Edoardo Leo. Photographed by Pietro Maria Tirabassi. With Edoardo Leo, Marco Bonini, Sabrina Impacciatore. 108 min, DAP Italy.
8:45 pm Weddings and Other Disasters 
North American Premiere
Director in person
Nina di Majo (Matrimoni e altri disastri, 2010)
A middle-aged single woman gets caught up in her younger sister’s impending nuptials in this delightful romantic comedy. Giovanna (the always impressive Margherita Buy) has hit her 40s with only a couple of serious relationships in her past. When she agrees to work with Alessandro (an irrepressible Fabio Volo), her sister’s fiancé whom she finds brash and arrogant, they are both surprised by a burgeoning and mutual attraction. As writer/director Nina di Maijo reveals her characters through conversations on everything from love poetry to modern rock, a compelling story of opposites attracting is told and comes to a humorous and touching resolution. Written by Francesco Bruni, Nina di Majo, Antonio Leotti. Photographed by Cesare Accetta. With Magherita Buy, Fabio Volo, Francesca Inaudi. 91 min, Rai Trade.

Friday, November 19 
City of Florence Award Competition Films
6:30 pm Raise Your Head see 11/17
9:00 pm The Double Hour
Director in person
Giuseppe Capotondi (La doppia ora, 2009)
A hotel maid working in Turin finds herself involved in a series of increasingly strange events in this dreamlike thriller. When the film begins, Sonia has just met a handsome ex-cop named Guido. They find a romantic rapport together only to have a startling crime separate them. Other nefarious situations ensue, including an art theft, a mysterious man wandering the hotel and a rash of deaths. When a friend of Guido’s confronts Sonia about her dodgy past, the question arises whether she is a dangerous femme fatale or just a woman with terrible luck. Combining elements of film noir, melodrama and finely tuned suspense, The Double Hour keeps viewers on edge until its final moments. Written by Alessandro Fabbri, Ludovica Rampoldi, Stefano Sardo. Photographed by Tat Radcliffe. With Ksenia Rappoport, Filippo Timi, Antonia Truppo. 95 min, Samuel Goldwyn Films.

Saturday, November 20 
City of Florence Award Competition Films
1:00 pm A Perfect Day see 11/14
3:45 pm I Am Glad You Are Here see 11/16
6:30 pm Weddings and Other Disasters see 11/18
9:15 pm Ten Winters see 11/16

Sunday, November 21
City of Florence Award Competition Films
12:15 pm Clash of Civilization over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio see 11/17
3:00 pm 18 Years Later see 11/18
6:00 pm The First Beautiful Thing  Closing Night Film
Paolo Virzì (La prima cosa bella, 2010)
What does it mean to have a beautiful, frivolous and embarrassing mother? This is the problem confronting Bruno, the protagonist of Paolo Virzì’s moving new film. Thrown out by her jealous husband while her kids are still young, Anna must draw on her strongest asset — her looks — in order to provide for Bruno and his sister Valeria. Her often blatant opportunism proves embarrassing to her sensitive son and affects his relationships later in life. When Bruno is called back to his mother’s side as a middle-aged man, he must come to terms with his difficult but charming parent in order to move forward. Virzì has come up with another humanistic winner. Written by Francesco Bruni, Francesco Piccolo, Paolo Virzì. Photographed by Nicola Pecorini. With Valerio Mastandrea, Micaela Ramazzotti, Stefania Sandrelli. 118 min, IntraMovies.
The NICE City of Florence Award will be presented to the winning director immediately following the screening.
9:00 pm Closing Night Reception and celebration of the City of Florence Award winner, with tasty Northern Italian bites and complimentary beverages at Fior d’Italia, one of America’s oldest Italian restaurants since 1886, 2237 Mason Street between Francisco and Chestnut streets.
9:15 pm The First Beautiful Thing

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