It’s Italian job on crime
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.