Italian Film Festival 2020
Founded two decades ago by Cav. Antonio Zeccola, who also started with his brothers the Palace Cinema franchise, and being de facto the biggest celebration of Italian movie making outside the confines of “Bel Paese”, the Australian incarnation of the Italian Film Festival has firmly established itself not merely on the cinematic but the cultural calendar on terra australis.
Due to the implications of the current COVID-19 malaise, i.e. social distancing, the opening night, which is usually a grandiose affair of epic proportions, was as expected much more subdued yet still all class with the live-action adaptation of Pinocchio having been chosen to start proceedings with.
Directed by Matteo Garrone, Life is Beautiful lead Roberto Benigni stars in this slightly darker and borderline nightmarish take on Carlo Collodi’s source material, which puts emphasis on the more grotesque parts of the tale counterpointed by Benigni’s idiosyncratic warm and whimsical performance that in this instance is rooted in melancholia.
Garron’s take on Pinocchio made me curious and revisit the original book, only to discover that it is much more aligned than the less cruel depictions that were the children friendly versions over the years. Special effects-wise the 2020 adaption is quite something with its finely calibrated melange of CGI and real-life action, seamlessly going back and forth.
Highlights of this year’s festival not only include the Marco Bellocchio’s handsomely shot investigation of Tommaso Buscetta, the man who brought down the Cosa Nostra, i.e. Il Traditore (The Traitor), but also a segment dedicated to new Italian cinema showcasing emerging talents both in front and behind the camera as well as a segment focussing on family friendly films.
Not unlike with previous incarnations of the Italian Film Fest, no matter what your cinematic preferences are, you would be hard pressed to not find something charmingly classic or refreshingly new.