COURTESY NICK GAMBINO
Among the offerings at this year's Cinema Italiano is "After Midnight." A shy night watchman must choose between a real-life romance and his love for cinema.
The best of Italian cinema comes to Hawaii via a yearly film festival
This third annual Italian film festival brings the best of contemporary cinema direct from that lovely European country in the south, a collaborative effort of the Honolulu Academy of Arts, the Friends of Italy Society of Hawai'i and the Istituto Italiano di Culture (née Italian Cultural Institute) of San Francisco.
Cinema Italiano In Hawaii
Screens: Sept. 26 to Oct. 1
Place: Doris Duke Theatre, Honolulu Academy of Arts
Tickets: $7; $6 seniors, students and military; $5 academy members
Call: 532-8768 or visit honoluluacademy.org
This year's offerings:
"My Brother's Summer (L'Estate di Mio Fratello)": Director Pietro Reggiani's debut feature is about a boy's particularly eventful summer in the Verona countryside of 1970. Sergio is upset that he is soon to have a little brother. In his daydreams, he even imagines burning the unwanted brother on a grill. But when his mother has a miscarriage, Sergio is overcome by guilt, so much so that the image of the little brother becomes his inseparable companion. Screens at 8 p.m. Sept. 26 and 1 p.m. Sept. 27.
"Mario's War (La Guerra di Mario)": Valeria Golino picked up a Golden Globe this year for her role in veteran director Antonio Capuano's latest film. She plays Giulia, foster mother to 9-year-old Mario, defined as a "difficult child" by the juvenile court that took him away from his abusive mother. Giulia falls in love with her new situation, discovering a femininity that had been long dormant. Her partner, Sandro, however, is intimidated by the boy, and can't form a relationship with him. Mario, in the meantime, is profoundly lonely and takes refuge in his own world of fantasy, inventing an imaginary playmate. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 27 and 1 p.m. Sept. 28.
"The Wedding Director (Il Registra di Matrimoni)": An unsavory film director slides into depression when his daughter marries a devout Catholic. He flees to a small village in Sicily, where he is commissioned by a pompous prince to film his daughter's wedding. But the director becomes infatuated with the beautiful princess and decides to sabotage this marriage of convenience. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 28 and 1 p.m. Sept. 29.
"Agata and the Storm (Agata e la Tempesta)":
COURTESY NICK GAMBINO
Above, the main character of "Singing Behind Screens" is from a folk tale about a Chinese pirate's widow with a murderous wish.
Silvio Soldini's colorful, magic comedy centers on the proprietor of a bookstore in Genoa, a radiant middle-aged woman (Licia Maglietta) who dispenses literary wisdom to her adoring customers. When a younger man falls madly in love with her, she revels in the passion of the affair, creating an emotional energy that makes light bulbs explode. Screens at 4 p.m. Sept. 29 and 1 p.m. Oct. 1.
"After Midnight (Dopo Mezzanotte)": When the timid night watchman from Turin's Museum of Cinema rescues a sexy fast-food worker from her angry boss and the police, he's forced to choose between his cinematic icons and a real-life romance. In the meantime, she's sorting through a troubled relationship with her criminal boyfriend. The film is also a jaunty homage to the history of cinema, harking back to the silent era while acknowledging its future in its low-budget, digital video style. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 29 and 1 p.m. Sept. 30.
"Don't Tell (La Bestia nel Cuore)": This 2006 Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film is a highlight of the festival. A mesmerizing story of a woman's journey into her past and the aftermath of confronting personal demons long hidden beneath the surface of her psyche. When Sabina (Giovanna Mezzogiorno) learns she is pregnant, she suffers a succession of haunting nightmares, strange memories and personal insecurities that send her world spiraling out of control. While shunning the affections of her boyfriend, she flees to the United States, where she seeks comfort from her brother and his family. But Sabina then becomes bedeviled by dark truths revealed about her life. Screens at 4 and 7:30 p.m. Sept. 30.
"Singing Behind Screens (Cantando Dietro I Paraventi)": Directed by legendary realist director Ermanno Olmi and inspired by a Jorge Luis Borges tale. A young man mistakenly enters a brothel while trying to find his way through urban China, circa 1930. Inside, an old sea captain is recounting a folk tale about the widow of a pirate leader who boldly takes her murdered husband's place at the head of the fleet to seek her revenge. Screens at 4 and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 1.