Film Italian style Cine-Festa Italia, a four-day festival of Italian film
Italians are certainly not the first people who come to mind when considering the city of Santa Fe. But according to Lisa Contarino, executive director of the upcoming Italian film festival CineFesta Italia, many visiting Italians instantly feel at home in the City Different. “In Italy, the colonial Spanish history is not dissimilar — it’s a little more southern Italian. The Spanish were all over Sicily,” Contarino told Pasatiempo. She said a contingent of tourists who came to Santa Fe last fall fell in love with the city’s landscape, immediately comfortable with old buildings that bear the hallmarks of Spanish architecture.
“There’s a resonance with Italians, with New Mexico’s love of culture, of food, of good things, the land, the earth, of cultivation,” said CineFesta’s creative director, Luca Ceccarelli. Contarino and Ceccarelli are hoping to capitalize on that cultural resemblance. Originating three years ago as the Santa Fe branch of the New Mexican Italian Film and Culture Festival based in Albuquerque, CineFesta now stands on its own. The festival is fueled by a collaboration between Italian government agencies and local benefactors to benefit two local charities, Communities in Schools and Cooking with Kids. Featured films run Wednesday, June 1, through Saturday, June 4, while the rest of June includes events that highlight Italian culture, art, and food.
Ceccarelli, a Roman filmmaker who came to Santa Fe at age twenty to attend St. John’s College, has curated a lineup of little-seen contemporary Italian movies. “What I’ve been focusing on is a lot of fresh voices in Italian cinema. A lot of them are first-time or female directors,” he said. “Around the world there’s been a great flux in gender identity and gender politics in the last year or two, and no less in Italy. I wanted to highlight films that are really reflecting that flux. … The role of women is evolving on a large scale for a country and a society that was very rigid and patriarchal.” More unconventional roles for women are borne out in his choice of Le Meraviglie (The Wonders, 2014), a film about a family of beekeepers directed by Alice Rohrwacher and starring her sister, Alba Rohrwacher, along with the incandescent Monica Bellucci. The picture won a Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival, along with several other international awards on the festival circuit. Another woman-directed film,
Vergine Giurata (Sworn Virgin, 2015), which also stars Rohrwacher, centers on the story of a woman who declares her eternal virginity and goes to live life as a man in the mountains of Albania. Ceccarelli said Per Amor Vostro (For Your Love, 2015) is about a woman looking for a place in an evolving society and stars Valeria Galino, a revered Italian actress who made her Hollywood debut in Rain Man (1988).
The festival will also show short films and documentaries, a couple of which focus on Italian food and wine.
Terra Madre (Mother Earth, 2009) details the slow food movement in Italy and beyond, which Ceccarelli hopes will resonate with foodie Santafesinos, while Barolo Boys: The Story of a Revolution (2014) charts the rise of Barolo winemaking. Contarino noted that two Sicilian pastry chefs are traveling to the festival to prepare distinctive desserts at events throughout the four days of film screenings. On June 4, a slow food reception at Osteria d’Assisi, the downtown restaurant owned by festival sponsor Lino Pertusini (an honorary consul of Italy in New Mexico), will feature a threecourse menu focusing on local ingredients.
The month’s lineup of cultural events features cooking demonstrations and art shows at various locations, including an exhibition of Futurist-influenced sculpture by Giorgio Ceccarelli, who happens to be Luca’s father, and photography by Tony Bonanno, who comes from the same small town in Sicily as Contarino’s family. These intricate connections are a hallmark of an organization that depends heavily on the network between Italy and New Mexico. Contarino said, “We’re very lucky to receive patronage from the consul general. One of the hardest things for a start-up film fest is credibility.” But with an enticing lineup of food, films, and art, it seems that CineFesta is poised to be the real deal.
Per Amor Vostro (For Your Love) Se Dio Vuole (God Willing) Terra Madre (Mother Earth) Vergine Giurata (Sworn Virgin)