The 8th annual NM Italian Film & Culture Festival is poised to deliver its strongest lineup yet of acclaimed contemporary Italian films. Among them is Il Capitale Umano (Human Capital), which walked away with top honors, including Best Film, at the 2014 David di Donatello Awards (Italy's equivalent of the Oscars). It was also Italy's submission to the 87th Academy Awards in the category of Best Foreign Film and, although not nominated, continues to accumulate awards worldwide – 39 at last count.
Based on the 2004 novel of the same name by Stephen Amidon, Human Capital is a deftly woven story told from multiple points of view and spanning four chapters. It unfolds in the wealthy northern Italian region of Brianza, near Milan, when a cyclist is the victim of a hit and run accident. Like the novel, the film carries a compelling message of capitalist greed and all its trappings. Its upshot is the stunning indifference to the value of human life.
Superbly acted, Human Capital was the Donatello awards source for Best Actress (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi), Best Supporting Actress, (Valeria Golino) and Best Supporting Actor (Fabrizio Gifuni). Human Capital's director, Paolo Virzi' is best known for his comedies, but widely recognized as one of the finest storytellers of the Italian screen. In Human Capital, Virzi''s storytelling reaches its pinnacle.
"This film has it all," says Dan Pucetti, who chairs the Festival's film selection and acquisition committee. "It's a gripping mix of drama, thriller and social commentary. The acting is outstanding. We're proud to be the first to screen this international sensation in New Mexico." (Friday February 13, Guild Cinema, Albuquerque)
The two other festival showcase films are Salvo, to be screened in Santa Fe, and Che Strano Chiamarsi Federico (How Strange to be Named Federico) to be screened in Albuquerque.
Salvo, winner of the Cannes Festival Grand Prize and Visionary awards, is a 2013 film noir by newcomer directors Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza. Short on dialogue, long on action, it's a highly stylized and sensory-rich Mafia crime drama and soulful romance that has been called everything from aesthetically arresting (The Hollywood Reporter) to a languid Italian thriller (Empire). Recipient of more than 20 international nominations and 7 awards, Salvo will be introduced by the Santa Fe Festival's Director-in-Residence, Luca Ceccarelli. (Friday, February 6, Jean Cocteau Cinema, Santa Fe)
Che Strano Chiamarsi Federico is a loving tribute to Federico Fellini commemorating the twentieth anniversary of his death. Famed director, Ettore Scola, brings his two decades of friendship with Fellini back to life through a mosaic of inventive visuals and rich memoir storytelling. Much more than a Fellini retrospective, Che Strano is a unique look at a slice of Italian cinematic history and a portrait of one of its chief architects. A chronicle of friendship and a moving homage, Che Strano will be introduced by the Albuquerque Festival's Director of Honor and David di Donatello award winner, Fulvio Ottaviano. (Monday, February 9, Guild Cinema, Albuquerque)
Rounding out the film lineup:
In Santa Fe
• Gabriele Salvatores' Happy Family, a 2010 colorful and whimsical comedy loosely based on Pirandello's play, "Six Characters in Seach of an Author," gets into the imagination of a neurotic writer.
• Giacomo Campiotti's Bianca Come il Latte, Rossa Come il Sangue (White Like Milk, Red Like Blood), a 2013 comedy/drama about a boisterous, but sensitive 16 year old boy filled with grand and unconditional love for a beautiful redhead who has leukemia.
• Giuseppe Piccioni's Il Rosso e il Blu (The Red and the Blue), a 2012 bittersweet drama set in a Rome high school.
• Ivano de Matteo's Gli Equilibristi (Balancing Act), a 2012 drama, also set in Rome, that explores the anxieties of those struggling to get by and the delicate balance between affluence and poverty.
• Edoardo Leo's Buongiorno Papa' (Hello Dad), a tender 2013 comedy about surprise fatherhood with a charming mix of characters who discover new ways to define family.
• Riccardo Milani's Benvenuto Presidente (Welcome Mr. President), a playful 2013 comedy full of social commentary, political satire and laughs about an easygoing librarian and avid trout fisherman who suddenly finds himself elected President.
• Massimo Venier's Il Giorno in Piu' (One Day More), a 2011 romantic comedy involving a ladies' man enchanted with a woman he sees daily on his commute, and a difficult decision he has to make.
• Giulio Manfredonia's Si Puo' Fare (We Can Do That), a 2008 8-time award winning comedy/drama based on real events after the Italian government closed mental hospitals in the 1980s - a film filled will humor and hope.
All films are in Italian with English subtitles
All films making their local premieres
For information and tickets: www.italianfilmfest.org
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