Film Society Unveils 13th Open Roads: New Italian Cinema Series Lineup

Posted by Brian Brooks on 4.8.2014


Daniele Luchetti's Those Happy Years. Photo: Emanuela Scarpa

[Tickets go on sale for the 13th Open Roads May 22. Film Society members have a pre-sale period beginning May 13.]

The Italians are returning to Film Society this June with the 13th edition of Open Roads: New Italian Cinema, an annual showcase of contemporary Italian cinema. This year's lineup includes the latest work from established veteran, top award winners, as well as new talent. The U.S. Premiere of Daniele Luchetti's Those Happy Years will open the series June 5. Overall, the lineup includes 16 features, with over a dozen screening Stateside for the first time.

Those Happy Years is one of several selections that explore the evolution of Italy's political transformation. The film is a coming-of-age autobiographical tale of the director's childhood as a budding filmmaker growing up in Rome in the '70s, coinciding with a radical, transformative period in Italy. The Fifth Wheel by Giovanni Versonesi also falls in this group. It is a humorous tale that takes audiences on a journey of a half-century of pivotal political events through the eyes of actor and screenwriter Ernesto Fioretti.

Documentaries and hybrid combinations of nonfiction and narrative work factor heavily into this year's roster. Highlights include Gianfranco Rosi’s Sacro GRA, the first documentary to win the Golden Lion for Best Film at the Venice Film Festival. The feature explores Rome’s 43.5-mile highway Grande Raccordo Anulare that encircles the city, focusing on areas drivers pass through but never see, revealing a different side of the bustling city’s inhabitants. Alberto Fasulo’s docudrama debut Tir won the top prize at the Rome Film Festival and follows a former teacher from Bosnia who takes a job driving a tractor trailer (“tir”) through Europe. The film uses both professional actors and real truck drivers to create a story about what life is really like on the road.

Other documentaries include Vincenzo Marra’s Naples-set The Administrator, which looks at a building administrator’s dealings with his larger-than-life tenants, providing a tough-minded yet affectionate portrait of an Italy mired in crisis. Gianni Amelio’s Happy to Be Different, meanwhile, is a moving work of oral history of gay life in Italy from the fall of fascism through the early 1980s.

Politics and social issues facing Italians also play a role in Gianni Amelio’s A Lonely Hero, starring comedian and actor Antonio Albanese, whose character learns to reinvent and adapt himself to any job as a professional substitute (train conductor, fishmonger, tailor, etc.), as a result of the country’s unstable unemployment crisis. Roberto Andò’s Long Live Freedom is a scathing critique of Italian political dynamics and stars Toni Servillo as a seasoned politician navigating the decline of his party by fleeing to Paris and hiding out at the home of his ex-girlfriend.

Renowned TV host and political comedian Pierfrancesco Diliberto wrote, directed, and stars in The Mafia Only Kills in Summer, his feature debut about a young boy and his obsession with the Mafia’s presence in his city and a beautiful schoolmate who remains his love interest until adulthood. The love story is set against a backdrop of some of Italy’s most tragic past criminal events. Edoardo Winspeare’s Quiet Bliss follows three generations of women who seek refuge in their family’s olive grove after their small textile business collapses and their efforts to revive their lives in the wake of economic catastrophe and the recession.


Bruno Oliviero's The Human Factor.

"We are pleased to welcome some familiar faces back to Open Roads—including Daniele Luchetti for Opening Night and Gianni Amelio with his two latest films—and also to introduce so many promising emerging filmmakers," commented Film Society of Lincoln Center Director of Programming Dennis Lim. "This year’s rich and diverse program, which ranges from sober drama to irreverent comedy, includes films from all across Italy, continuing the strong regionalist trend of recent years. With exemplary new work by Gianfranco Rosi and Vincenzo Marra, it also underscores the emergence of documentary as a breeding ground for some of the most exciting developments in contemporary Italian cinema." 

Open Roads: New Italian Cinema takes place June 5-12.

Films, descriptions and schedules follow:

Those Happy Years (Anni felici) — Opening Night, U.S. Premiere
Daniele Luchetti, Italy, 2013
Italian with English subtitles
Luchetti’s warm-hearted, bittersweet autobiographical account of his childhood as a budding filmmaker growing up in Rome in the ’70s stars Kim Rossi Stuart and Micaela Ramazotti as unconventional parents caught up in turbulent times. He’s an avant-garde artist and she’s wrestling with gender roles as she discovers feminism and free love. Luchetti (My Brother Is an Only Child) brilliantly re-creates the atmosphere of urgency and rapid change surrounding the family. He also poignantly conveys his own coming-of-age perspective, that of a boy grappling with radical transformations inside his family and on the street, capturing it all with his brand-new Super-8 camera.
Thursday, June 5, 1:00pm (Q&A with Daniele Luchetti)
Thursday, June 5, 6:30pm (Q&A with Daniele Luchetti)

The Administrator (L’amministratore) -- U.S. Premiere
Vincenzo Marra, Italy, 2013
Italian with English subtitles
In the lively and absorbing fifth installment in a series of docs celebrating his native Naples, Marra turns a spotlight on the life of Umberto Montella, a building administrator whose job seems to demand skills in management as much as in therapy. An effortless arbiter of the passionate conflicts that arise among tenants, the Quixotic Montella leads us in and out of the homes of his larger-than-life clients, rich and poor Neapolitans whose lives illuminate the city’s volatile moods. Sometimes funny and always poignant, these profoundly human stories flow in and out of one another following a natural rhythm. However specific the tales, characters, and places, the immersion into these entangled lives is also a tough-minded yet affectionate look at an Italy mired in crisis.
Monday, June 9, 6:30pm (Q&A with Vincenzo Marra TBC)
Tuesday, June 10, 1:30pm (Q&A with Vincenzo Marra TBC)

The Fifth Wheel (L’ultima ruota del carro) -- U.S. Premiere
Giovanni Veronesi, Italy, 2013
Italian with English subtitles
Veronesi’s irresistible romantic comedy takes a journey through pivotal events in four decades of recent Italian history, as seen through the lens of Ernesto Fioretti’s unexceptional life. Played with charm and a disarming sense of humor by Elio Germano, Ernesto is a good-hearted, honest middle-class guy who struggles to keep up with changes and is always a step behind. His father disparaged Ernesto by likening him to the “fifth wheel of the wagon,” and his aspirations and involvement through the rise and fall of Socialism and the Berlusconi era are accordingly modest. But his protagonist’s apparent simplicity is precisely one of the strengths of this Tuscan director’s fifteenth feature, which opened the Rome Film Festival last year to great acclaim. Rich in emotions, its ups and downs coinciding with those of the country, Ernesto’s life serves as the perfect platform for abundant laughter and tears.
Friday, June 6, 6:30pm (Q&A with Giovanni Veronesi)
Wednesday, June 11, 1:00pm (Q&A with Giovanni Veronesi)


Gianni Amelios A Lonely Hero. Photo: Claudio Iannone

Happy to Be Different (Felice chi è diverso)
Gianni Amelio, Italy, 2014
In Italian with English subtitles
A moving and enlightening work of oral history, Gianni Amelio’s new documentary is a chronicle of gay life in Italy from the fall of Fascism through the early 1980s. Amelio combines interviews with a wide range of older gay Italian men (including Pasolini muse Ninetto Davoli), newsreel footage, and clips from “educational” films warning against homosexuality, and in the process reveals a profound gap between the subjects’ firsthand experiences and the Italian media’s representations of them. The resulting film is a deeply personal account of the advent of gay culture amid the ruins of Mussolini’s Italy and the eternally poignant story of how persecuted individuals developed pragmatic ways to attain everyday happiness.
Tuesday, June 10, 9:00pm (Q&A with Gianni Amelio TBC)
Wednesday, June 11, 4:00pm (Q&A with Gianni Amelio TBC)

The Human Factor (La variabile umana) -- U.S. Premiere
Bruno Oliviero, Italy, 2013
Italian with English subtitles
Matters get very complicated for chief inspector Monaco (Silvio Orlando) after the murder of a high-profile member of Milan’s seedy nightlife. He is a widower with a teenage daughter, and, one night, all his neglected personal issues seem to catch up with him, forcing him out of the slump he’s been in since the death of his wife. Rendered darkly beautiful as a noir setting, Milan is the electric backdrop for this detective story that delves as much into the intimate life of one man and his daughter as into this elegant city’s underworlds. In his fiction debut, Olivierio’s extensive documentary experience is palpable in his portrait of Milan—a character in itself—as well as in the vivid and telling details with which he characterize its inhabitants.
Thursday, June 5, 4:00pm (Q&A with Bruno Oliviero TBC)
Friday, June 6, 9:30pm (Q&A with Bruno Oliviero TBC)

I Can Quit Whenever I Want (Smetto quando voglio) -- U.S. Premiere
Sydney Sibilia, Italy, 2014
Italian with English subtitles
A band of brilliant unemployed and underemployed academics—two Latinists, a chemist, a neurobiologist, an anthropologist, and an economist—turn to a life of crime in order to survive. Deftly assimilating such influences as Breaking Bad and Trainspotting, this biting parody on the plight of the Italian middle class in the aftermath of the economic crisis boasts a fast pace, witty dialogue, and a terrific cast. A debut to watch from Salerno-native Sibilia, the film was a resounding commercial and critical hit when released in Italy earlier this year.
Friday, June 6, 3:30pm (Q&A with actress Valeria Solarino)
Sunday, June 8, 9:00pm (Q&A with actress Valeria Solarino)

A Lonely Hero (L'intrepido) -- U.S. Premiere

Gianni Amelio, Italy, 2013

Italian with English Subtitles

Amelio follows his 2011 Camus adaptation, The First Man, with a deadpan parable about a small everyday hero from Milan who contends with the unemployment crisis in a very particular way: he’s a “professional” substitute worker, skilled and knowledgeable enough to replace anyone in any job. True to his name, Antonio Pane is as good and essential as bread. Whether working as a train conductor, fishmonger, tailor, street sweeper, or bricklayer, he approaches the country’s instability with a deep moral consistency as he reinvents himself everyday. Amelio wrote this film especially for actor Antonio Albanese, who personifies the film’s dark humor and underlying sense of hope. An Emerging Pictures release.
Tuesday, June 10, 6:30pm (Q&A with Gianni Amelio TBC)
Thursday, June 12, 9:00pm  (Q&A with Gianni Amelio TBC)


Emma Dante's A Street in Palermo.

Long Live Freedom (Viva la libertà) -- U.S. Premiere
Roberto Andò, Italy, 2013
Italian with English Subtitles
Enrico Oliveri (a brilliant Toni Servillo) is a seasoned center-left politician and president of the opposition who realizes that the decline of his party is inevitable. As the polls announce he will lose dramatically in the upcoming elections, he falls into a profound existential crisis and disappears. We later learn that he has fled to Paris and is hiding out at the home of his ex-girlfriend Danielle (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi). While his colleagues panic, his top aide (Valerio Mastandrea) discovers that Enrico has a twin brother living in a psychiatric institution. What at first seems like a crazy plan soon proves to be their only solution. A scathing critique of Italian political dynamics, Andò’s film is also a pulsating thriller with great comic moments that brings together some of the most talented actors working in Italy today.
Friday, June 6, 1:00pm (Q&A with Roberto Andò)
Saturday, June 7, 9:00pm (Q&A with Roberto Andò)

The Mafia Only Kills in Summer (La mafia uccide solo d’estate) -- U.S. Premiere
Pierfrancesco Diliberto, Italy, 2013
Italian with English subtitles                                                                  
Pierfrancesco Diliberto (a renowned TV host and political comedian, better known as Pif) wrote, directed, and stars in this subversive, irreverent feature debut about Arturo, a young boy whose obsession with the Mafia’s casual presence in his city surpasses even his passion for Flora, the beautiful schoolmate who remains his main love interest until adulthood. Pif uses Arturo’s unrequited love story as the vehicle to narrate the most tragic events in Italy’s recent history, starting with the Cosa Nostra’s criminal actions in Sicily in the ’70s, which soon spread through the country (encompassing the barbaric murder of judges Falcone and Borsellino, an event that Pif handles with astounding boldness). Winner of the Audience Award at the Torino Film Festival, Mafia is a brave and intelligent dark comedy with a powerful message.
Saturday, June 7, 3:30pm (Q&A with Pierfrancesco Diliberto aka Pif)
Thursday, June 12, 4:00pm (Q&A with Pierfrancesco Diliberto aka Pif)

Quiet Bliss (In grazia di Dio)
Edoardo Winspeare, Italy, 2014
In Italian with English subtitles
Three generations of women seek refuge in their family’s Salento olive grove after their small textile business collapses in Winspeare’s warm and vibrant drama. Against the backdrop of a radiant southern Italian landscape, Winspeare’s characters—serene Salvatrice (Anna Boccadamo), hardened Adele (Celeste Casciaro), loudmouthed Ina (Laura Licchetta), and aspiring thespian Maria Conchetta (Barbara De Matteis)—revive their lives in the wake of economic catastrophe. Turning to a back-to-basics existence as a means of healing the wounds wrought by the recession, they undergo transformations that the director renders with equal parts pathos, insight, and humor.
Saturday, June 7, 6:00pm (Q&A with Edoardo Winspeare)
Monday, June 9, 1:00pm (Q&A with Edoardo Winspeare)

The Referee (L’arbitro) -- U.S. Premiere
Paolo Zucca, Italy/Argentina, 2013
Italian with English subtitles
Sardinian third-league soccer team Atletico Pabarile is suddenly winning every match of the season, after years of losing consistently to Montecrastu, the team led by cocky and abusive landowner Brai. The return of soccer wizard Matzutzi from a sojourn in Argentina has turned the team of farmers into unexpected champions—and now it feels like anything is possible. Enter Cruciani (a great Stefano Accorsi), a young referee greedily climbing his way to the top, and two cousins playing for Montecrastu who are involved in an escalating conflict about archaic sheep-breeding codes in Sardinia. These disparate plots come together explosively in the lush black-and-white world of Zucca’s slyly funny and utterly distinctive first feature.
Tuesday, June 10, 4:00pm (Q&A with Paolo Zucca TBC)
Wednesday, June 11, 9:00pm (Q&A with Paolo Zucca TBC)


Fabio Mollo's South Is Nothing.

Sacro GRA -- U.S. Premiere
Gianfranco Rosi, Italy/France, 2013
Italian with English subtitles
The first documentary to win the Golden Lion for Best Film at the Venice Film Festival, the latest from Gianfranco Rosi (El Sicario, Room 164 and Below Sea Level), reveals the sheer diversity of life bubbling around the margins of Rome’s Grande Raccordo Anulare, the 43.5-mile highway that encircles the city, the longest in all of Italy. The absorbing and often moving individual portraits that emerge—an ambulance driver caring for his ailing mother, a scientist studying palm trees ravaged by beetles, an eel fisherman nostalgic for old traditions—give visibility and a human face to the places Sacro GRA drivers pass through but never see, while exposing the city’s striking contradictions. Inspired in part by Italo Calvino’s novel Invisible Cities, Rosi’s captivating chorale plunges the viewer into this paradoxical reality, allowing us a more direct, even sensorial experience of life in the shadow of progress.
Sunday, June 8, 6:30pm Q&A with Gianfranco Rosi)
Monday, June 9, 4:00pm (Q&A with Gianfranco Rosi)

Small Homeland (Piccola Patria) -- U.S. Premiere
Alessandro Rossetto, Italy, 2013
Italian with English subtitles
Best friends Luisa and Renata long above all else to leave their stifling provincial town in northeastern Italy, where tensions between locals and immigrants are forever threatening to boil over. They work as maids in a hotel but supplement their income with sexual trysts, sometimes assisted by Luisa’s Albanian boyfriend, and hatch a blackmail scheme that fails to play out as expected. The rhythms of daily life in this border zone—where city meets countryside—are captured in vivid detail in the highly promising fiction debut by Rossetto, an experienced documentarian working mainly with nonprofessional actors.
Thursday, June 5, 9:15pm (Q&A with Alessandro Rossetto)
Sunday, June 8, 3:30pm  (Q&A with Alessandro Rossetto)

South Is Nothing (Il Sud e niente) -- U.S. Premiere
Fabio Mollo, Italy, 2013
Italian with English subtitles
Grazia was 12 years old when she was told by her widower father that her beloved older brother Pietro had died, and never spoken a word since. Now a tomboyish 18, after one of her regular arguments with her father, Grazia flees to the seaside and into the water, where she has an otherworldly experience and thinks she sees her brother. Thus begins her quest to discover another truth, not only about her lost sibling but also about herself. This poised and striking debut by the young Mollo, who shot this film in the Reggio Calabria village where he grew up, features a remarkable central performance by the young Miriam Karlkvist.
Sunday, June 8, 1:00pm (Q&A with Fabio Mollo TBC)
Monday, June 9, 9:00pm (Q&A with Fabio Mollo TBC)

A Street in Palermo (Via Castellana Bandiera) -- U.S. Premiere
Emma Dante, Italy, 2013, DCP, 92m
Italian with English subtitles
Based on her own novel, Emma Dante’s first feature is set in Palermo and shot almost entirely in a narrow alleyway in a run-down neighborhood. On a hot Sunday afternoon, three women are caught in what turns out to be a tragic confrontation. Rosa (Dante) and her partner, Clara (Alba Rohrwacher), have just driven in from Milan and are on their way to a friend’s wedding. As they turn onto Via Castellana Bandiera, they find the Calafiore family jammed into a car driven by Samira (Elena Cotta), a mule-headed Sicilian of Albanian descent. Both drivers stubbornly refuse to back up, as tensions escalate and the neighborhood looks on. An accomplished theater director, Dante includes some knowing nods to spaghetti Westerns and genre conventions in her ambitious film debut, and coaxes formidable performances from her skilled cast (Cotta won the Best Actress Award at the Venice Film Festival).
Wednesday, June 11, 6:30pm
Thursday, June 12, 1:30pm

Tir -- U.S. Premiere
Alberto Fasulo, Italy/Croatia, 2013
Italian with English Subtitles
The first Italian film to win the top prize at the Rome Film Festival, Fasulo’s striking fiction debut follows Branko (played by Branko Zavrsan, from the Oscar-winning No Man’s Land), a former teacher from Bosnia who takes a job driving a tractor trailer (“tir”) through Europe. A native of Friuli with a documentary background, Fasulo immerses the viewer in the experience of the trucker on the road—the sounds, the landscape, and the longing for company (Branko’s phone conversations with his wife are particularly poignant). Part of a growing movement of Italian filmmakers exploring hybrid combinations of documentary and fiction, Fasulo uses both professional actors and real truck drivers, and his approach yields both an intimate connection to his characters and an evocative sense of place.
Saturday, June 7, 1:00pm (Q&A with Alberto Fasulo TBC)
Thursday, June 12, 6:30pm (Q&A with Alberto Fasulo)

[Tickets go on sale Thursday, May 22. Pre-sale to members of the Film Society of Lincoln Center begins on Tuesday, May 13. Single screening tickets are $13; $9 for students and seniors (62+); and $8 for Film Society members. See more and play less with a discount package starting at $30; $24 for students and seniors (62+); and $21 for Film Society members. The discount package prices apply with the purchase of tickets to three films or more. Visit FilmLinc.com for more information. All screenings will be held at the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater, at 165 West 65th Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue. Additional information on the series can be found at: filmlinc.com/openroads.]

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