HOORAY FOR THE GREEN, WHITE & RED

NEW MEX­ICO ITAL­IAN FILM & CUL­TURE FES­TI­VAL

Pasatiempo - - STATE OF THE ARTS -

There is a scene in Salvo, Ital­ian di­rec­tors Fabio Gras­sado­nia and An­to­nio Pi­azza’s 2013 slow-burn crime drama, in which the two pro­tag­o­nists, holed up in an aban­doned fac­tory sur­round by gun­men, do what any re­spectable Ital­ians might: They sit down to eat. Fit­tingly, this year’s New Mex­ico Ital­ian Film & Cul­ture Fes­ti­val is as much about food as it is about movies. Eleven films screen dur­ing the fes­ti­val (three in Santa Fe and eight in Al­bu­querque), which also fea­tures mu­sic, art, Ital­ian dishes, and a si­lent auc­tion. Ex­tend­ing over 11 days, the fes­ti­val, a ben­e­fit for the Uni­ver­sity of New Mex­ico Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal, starts at the Jean Cocteau Cinema on Thurs­day, Feb. 5, with a wine and food re­cep­tion and a screen­ing of Gabriele Sal­va­tores’ Happy Fam­ily. Sal­va­tores is known for 1991’s Mediter­ra­neo, which took home an Academy Award for Best For­eign Lan­guage Film. Happy Fam­ily, which pre­miered in 2010, tells the story of Mi­lanese screen­writer Ezio (Fabio De Luigi), at home in his room, at­tempt­ing to write about the fam­i­lies of two young lovers who come to­gether to share an im­por­tant meal. As he writes, the char­ac­ters come to life around him, of­fer­ing ad­vice — and de­mand­ing larger roles in the film. The film has drawn stylis­tic com­par­isons to the movies of Amer­i­can direc­tor Wes An­der­son, but ac­cord­ing to the fes­ti­val’s direc­tor-in-res­i­dence, Luca Cec­ca­relli, any com­par­isons are likely tongue-in-cheek. “Sal­va­tores is one of the great Ital­ian film­mak­ers of our

time,” he told Pasatiempo. He’s play­ing us con­sis­tently, so if it is à la Wes An­der­son, I won­der to what de­gree he’s mak­ing fun of the au­teur ap­proach to film­mak­ing. He breaks a lot of rules.”

Cec­ca­relli was an as­pir­ing film­maker when, in 1999, he worked at the Palace Restau­rant, for­merly owned by Lino Per­tusini, who is now hon­orary con­sul of the Ital­ian con­sulate of Los An­ge­les, sup­porter of the fes­ti­val, and owner of Santa Fe’s Os­te­ria d’As­sisi and Pizzeria da Lino. “Lino’s watched my am­bi­tion grow and grow, and when they put this fes­ti­val to­gether they in­vited me in to be a part of it.” Cec­ca­relli’s fan­tasy thriller Eve An­gelic was named Best New Mex­ico-Made Short at the 2014 Santa Fe Film Fes­ti­val, and he runs The Direc­tor’s Edge, an on­line ser­vice for film­mak­ers who want to im­prove their process and vi­sion. Cec­ca­relli in­tro­duces each of the films in Santa Fe. “I love the idea of open­ing films with a brief con­sid­er­a­tion of things you may have not thought about be­fore,” he said.

The fes­ti­val, now in its eighth year, has been ac­tive in Al­bu­querque but added Santa Fe only last year in recog­ni­tion of the city’s grow­ing Ital­ianAmer­i­can com­mu­nity. “There have been lots of [Ital­ian-Amer­i­can] groups emerg­ing, whether they’re lan­guage groups or culi­nary groups or even just so­cials. So it’s re­ally nice that they come to­gether and want to bring the as­pect of film­mak­ing, which has al­ways been a big voice, a big part of Ital­ian cre­ativ­ity,” Cec­ca­relli said.

The fes­ti­val’s big­gest draw is Salvo, which screens on the sec­ond night. Set in Si­cily, the film has the mob­ster Salvo (Saleh Bakri) in pur­suit of would-be as­sas­sins af­ter he and his boss are am­bushed. Salvo tracks down the man who put the hit out on them and waits in­side his home, where he en­coun­ters Rita, the man’s blind sis­ter. Af­ter killing the mob­ster, Salvo kid­naps Rita (Sara Ser­raiocco), whose blind­ness fades as the story pro­gresses. Salvo also un­der­goes his own change, mov­ing from ab­duc­tor to pro­tec­tor. “Salvo is par­tic­u­larly in­ter­est­ing be­cause it’s like no Mafia film I’ve ever seen in Italy or in the United States,” Cec­ca­relli said. “The cul­ture of Mafia gets sen­sa­tion­al­ized con­tin­u­ally by the me­dia here. Mafia films play a big part in Ital­ian tele­vi­sion. It’s a con­stant voice in the cul­ture. It’s a con­stant con­cern. I’ve grown up with a lot of Mafia films, and what they do in Italy is more about be­ing on the in­side try­ing to fight it. The film me­an­ders through the af­ter­math that un­folds af­ter a hit. You’re brought very close to it, and it’s all about per­cep­tion.” Af­ter the screen­ing, view­ers can dine at par­tic­i­pat­ing lo­cal restau­rants, which will do­nate a por­tion of their pro­ceeds to the chil­dren’s hos­pi­tal.

The Santa Fe screen­ings wrap up on Satur­day, Feb. 7, with direc­tor Gi­a­como Cam­pi­otti’s 2013 com­ing-of-age film Bianca Come il Latte, Rossa Come il Sangue (White Like Milk, Red Like Blood). The film tells the story of Leo (Filippo Scicchitano), who has fallen for beau­ti­ful red-haired Beatrice (Gaia Weiss). Af­ter learn­ing that Beatrice is dy­ing of leukemia, Leo, con­sumed by love, be­gins to ex­pe­ri­ence the world in contrasts rep­re­sented by the colors white, for loss and empti­ness, and red, for life and pas­sion. The screen­ing is fol­lowed by a si­lent auc­tion and ben­e­fit din­ner at Os­te­ria d’As­sisi pre­pared by chef Cris­tian Pon­tig­gia. Al­bu­querque events begin on Sun­day, Feb. 8. “One thing I’d say about all the films is that there’s a pas­sion that comes through that’s quite unique to Ital­ian cul­ture. I hope peo­ple come out to watch th­ese jew­els,” Cec­ca­relli said.

Bianca Come il Latte, Rossa Come il Sangue

Salvo

Happy Fam­ily

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