Arts & Events
New Italian Cinema, the annual San Francisco Film Society festival, returns to Embarcadero Cinemas next week with seven new films by emerging Italian directors, three movies by acclaimed Tuscan director Paolo Virzi and two special closing night films. Some of the filmmakers will be on hand for the showings.
The festival opens Sunday with a new film by Virzi, best know to U.S. audiences for Caterina in the City (2003). His 2006 Napoleon (and Me) is a historical drama and comedy set in 1814 on the island of Elba, where the exiled dictator is welcomed by most but also becomes the target of an assassination plot. Two previous Virzi films round out his tribute at the festival: Hardboiled Egg, which won the Venice Festival Grand Jury Prize in 1997, and Living It Up, his 1994 debut, both playing Monday.
From Tuesday through Sunday, each of the seven festival films is shown twice. The first film (Tuesday and Thursday) is The Girl by the Lake, a gripping murder mystery set in the Italian Dolomites. As the inspector investigates the murder of a young woman, he begins to unravel some of the secrets of the small town, presenting a revealing portrait of its inhabitants. The film, Andrea Molaioli’s first feature, won 10 David di Donatello Awards (Italy’s version of the Oscars) last year.
The film sets the theme for the festival: an emphasis on storytelling on a human scale—personal stories that showcase the realities of modern Italy.
The films include Lessons in Chocolate, a romantic comedy featuring the chocolate industry in Perugia; Black Sea, a story about a widow and her Romanian caretaker; Cover Boy: The Last Revolution, a drama about immigrants and their exploitation in Italy; Don’t Waste Your Time Johnny! about a teenage guitar player in Caserta, Sicily, in the 1970s; A Night, detailing the reunion of five old friends who attend a friend’s funeral in Naples; and The Rest of the Night, which follows the collision between a middle-class family and two small-time hoodlums.
Closing night, Sunday, features two films. The first, Gomorrah—this year’s Grand Prize winner at Cannes—was adapted from Roberto Saviano’s explosive book on the violence, corruption and extensive reach of the Comorra, Naples’ organized crime syndicate. The second, Puccini and the Girl, by celebrated director Paolo Benvenuti, is a musical biopic of the composer, based on recently discovered material.
For details, showtimes and tickets see www.sffs.org or call (925) 866-9559. Both opening and closing night receptions feature complementary Italian beer, wine and appetizers. All films are shown at One Embarcadero Center, San Francisco.