In its ninth year, the Seattle International Film Festival celebrates contemporary Italian films, from a quirky mafia musical to a Goonies-esque clash of kids from different classes. And it wouldn't be a nod to Italy's film tradition with at least one movie from the country's Golden Age of Film, neorealism. Cinema Italian Style (Nov 9–16) will screen 16 films over the weeklong fest. Without further ado, here are some highlights.
Thu, Nov 9
At War For Love (In guerra per amore)
Pierfrancesco “Pif” Diliberto stars and directs the festival’s opener, a black romantic comedy set during World War II. It somehow melds wartime themes with a rom-com's charming bent, and a little bit of Sicilian mafia plot points thrown in for good measure.
Nov 10 & 13
The War of the Yokels (La guerra dei cafoni)
Adapted from a book of the same name by Carlo D’Amicis, directors Davide Barletti and Lorenzo Conte create a lowkey fantasy in which two warring bands of kids in Puglia—some the children of farmer's and some the children of the town's upper class—clash due to a deep, generational feud. It's almost like a cross between The Goonies and Lord of the Flies, delivered with the rough attitude reminiscent of southern Italy's rugged coastal landscape.
Sat, Nov 11
One of the few noncontemporary films in the lineup is this 1952 neorealist classic from Vittorio De Sica. Neorealism explores the everyday, often mundane moments in life yet its these snapshots of humanity that manage to entirely break your heart. Umberto D. follows an elderly man, played by a retired civil servant, struggling to survive in Rome’s postwar economy all alone save for the loyal companionship of his dog. It’s a most honest portrayal of attachment, dignity, and suffering.
Sat, Nov 11
There Is a Light (Il padre d’Italia)
It may not be a festival without at least one road movie, and this Fabio Mollo–directed film is it. The film follows an eccentric pregnant singer Mia (Italian Golden Globe Best Actress Award-winner Isabella Ragonese) and her reluctant passenger Paolo, a heart-broken gay man, on an epic road trip from the north to the south of Italy. As it goes, they set out to find something or someone, but discover that what they were searching for—at the risk of sounding trite—was inside them all along (not meaning the unborn child, you guys.)
Mon, Nov 13
People sometimes joke that everyone in Italy is an actor. That’s actually the case in this Jonas Carpignano film, which is Italy's official 2017 Oscar submission and executive produced by Martin Scorsese. In this coming-of-age drama, Pio, a 14-year-old teenaged kid smokes and drinks and follows his older brother Cosimo everywhere—but what does it take to really be a man in their small Romani community in Calabria?
Tue, Nov 14
Love and Bullets (Amore e malavita)
This is a mafia movie. It is also a musical. Mafia hitmen need love, too. Rather than kill his teenage crush, the duo shoot and sing their way out of Naples.
Thu, Nov 16
Easy (Un viaggio facile facile)
The Italian title translates to “an easy trip”—actually, “an easy easy trip.” Which is to say: This will not likely be an easy trip at all. Rather, the title character has to transport a coffin from Italy to Ukraine, which seems simple enough. But for a former go-kart who quit once he gained too much to fit in the seat, it might just be his bumpiest journey. Director Andrea Magnani will be in attendance for his film's screening which closes out the festival on Thursday night.
Cinema Italian Style 2017
Nov 9–16, SIFF Cinema Uptown, $14 ($100 series pass)