It’s Ital­ian job on crime

The Advertiser - - ARTS - PENE­LOPE DEBELLE FILM WRITER

ITAL­IAN com­edy can be larger than life – one of the 2018 Ital­ian Film Fes­ti­val ti­tles is called Put Nonna in the Freezer – but crime-based drama this year makes a wel­come re­turn to screens.

One of the most an­tic­i­pated of this year’s se­lec­tion is Dog­man, the lat­est from writer and di­rec­tor Mat­teo Gar­rone whose ear­lier film Go­mor­rah (2008) about an Ital­ian crime fam­ily was nom­i­nated for a Golden Globe. The image of dog groomer Mar­cello (Mar­cello Fonte) pa­tiently work­ing on the nails of an im­pos­ing great dane is cap­ti­vat­ing enough but the story dives deep into the fab­ric of the small sea­side town where Mar­cello deals a few drugs on the side but is oth­er­wise law abiding.

All that changes, of course, says Palace Cin­ema’s IFF spokes­woman Elysia Zec­cola.

“This is one of the grit­tier dra­mas in the line-up,” Zec­cola says. “There is this larger than life char­ac­ter who is a real bully in the com­mu­nity and they have this sort of code­pen­dency.”

In Boy’s Cry, di­rected by Dami­ano and Fabio D’In­no­cenzo, there is a sad sense of in­evitabil­ity about the way two friends from a poor part of Rome link their fates so ea­gerly to that of the lo­cal mob. So keen are they to bet­ter them­selves, one of them claims credit for a crime he did not com­mit.

“This is the first film from the D’In­no­cenzo Broth­ers so it is quite an achieve­ment,” Zec­cola says. “The chang­ing na­ture of the friends’ re­la­tion­ship is in­trigu­ing.”

In Eu­pho­ria, the ac­tress and film­maker Va­le­ria Golino looks at the dra­matic fall­out when two broth­ers are forced by ill­ness back into each oth­ers lives. “When they were last to­gether they didn’t get on very well,” Zec­cola says. “But now one of them isn’t telling the other the truth be­cause he wants ev­ery­thing to be OK. It’s a re­ally mov­ing film.”

One of the big­gest lit­er­ary phe­nom­ena to come out of Italy in re­cent years, the se­ries of Elena Fer­rante’s Neapoli­tan nov­els, raised more ques­tions than it an­swered. Who wrote the books? Was the au­thor a man? Why did it take their suc­cess in the US for Italy to dis­cover one of their own?

A doc­u­men­tary, Fer­rante Fever, about the mys­te­ri­ous au­thor – or could there be more than one? – looks at the clues to the iden­tity of the writer but also uses in­ter­views and an­i­ma­tion to ask why the nov­els have so cap­ti­vated read­ers around the world. Else­where on the pro­gram, Trou­bling Love, about a woman w who re­turns to Naples af­ter her mother’s ap­par­ent sui­cide, is based on a Fer­rante book.

Award-win­ning ac­tor Toni Servillo, best known for The Great Beauty, re­turns in The Girl in the Fog adapted from an in­trigu­ing novel full of twists and turns and di­rected by the book’s au­thor, Donato Car­risi.

The pro­gram of 30 films, one of the big­gest Lavazza Ital­ian Film Fes­ti­vals since it be­gan in 2000, also in­cludes a num­ber of films that in­clude – but don’t ob­sess over – gay themes. This in­cludes, in spite of the name, My Big Gay Ital­ian Wed­ding and Loose Can­nons, a com­edy about a son’s jour­ney home to south­ern Italy to come out to his fam­ily.

Zec­cola says the gay themes are well han­dled and are more in­ci­den­tal than a main plot fo­cus.

“It’s like, there is a char­ac­ter who is gay, so what?” she says. “Which is how it should be in your life so I like that.” SEE: THE ITAL­IAN FILM FES­TI­VAL AT PALACE NOVA EAST END FROM SEPTEM­BER 19 TO OC­TO­BER 14. ITALIANFILMFESTIVAL.COM.AU

GRITTY DRAMA: A scene from Dog­man, above, and, Trou­bling Love, be­low, at the 2018 Ital­ian Film Fes­ti­val.

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