Claudia Cardinale and Alain Delon in Italian classic film ‘The Leopard’. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Even though covid is keeping us at home right now, we can still travel in our dreams.

That is the theme of this year’s Studio Italia Cinema Italiano Festival, on show around New Zealand and soon to arrive in Masterton.

Festival director Paolo Rotondo said the movie line-up was the next best thing to visiting in person.

Rotondo, from Italy, selected the films for this year’s programme. He had a long connection with Kiwi audiences, having appeared in Shortland St and Stickmen. He was working on a te reo and Italian film.

Having family in Italy and arranging the film festival while that country was struggling with covid had made him appreciate the freedom of living in New Zealand now.

“Organising films with Italians in lockdown made me grateful for what we have here. They were disbelieving we were organising a film festival because it was an impossibility for them at that time.”

He said this year’s festival theme, “Dream Now, Travel Later”, was a reminder good things will come in time, although a flight to Roma or his hometown, Napoli, was still many months away.

Although Rotondo couldn’t take his children to visit their Italian family this year, and while his turangawaewae was in Napoli, he was using the festival to travel virtually.

“The sea at Posillipo in the Bay of Napoli. Those crystal-clear waters under the eye of the Vesuvio are my waters. And I really miss them.”

He said this was a time for Kiwis to travel in their imaginations and engage with the festival.

“It may sound sentimental but working on this festival constantly reminds me to have gratitude,” he said.

“I’m talking to Italian and also to several international distributors all the time, and they often remind me that sharing cinema here in New Zealand – where covid is no longer a large-scale threat – is rare and unique. They look to us with wonder, and therefore I am compelled to appreciate it!”

The festival opened at the Govett-Brewster Gallery in New Plymouth on June 17 and would arrive in Masterton on August 5. There would be screenings at about 20 cinemas nationwide.

Rotondo said the line-up was designed to compel audiences to laugh, cry, dream, and fall in love all over again.

“There were undoubtedly fewer films available this year due to the restrictions in Italy, and many filmmakers released their films online instead of in cinemas.

“My approach was to find films or directors that really appealed to me personally, and that’s why you will see more classics and contemporary classics – all of which help viewers escape
to Italia.”

Features include La Dea Fortuna [The Goddess of Fortune] on opening night. The 2019 film won the David di Donatello Awards for Best Actress and Best Song.

“It’s a truly romantic story”, Rotondo said.

“It contains so many of the triumphs and tribulations that real relationships experience. It’s a sophisticated, grown-up celebration of love and life.”

Also on show are two featuring screen legend Sophia Loren, Marriage Italian Style, and La Ciociara, for which she won an Oscar.

The 1963 classic Il Gattopardo [The Leopard] shows the impact of the new Italian republic on the fading aristocracy of the time. Burt Lancaster, Claudia Cardinale and Alain Delon portray the passing of an era. Directed by Luchino Visconti, it won the Palme’ D’Or and a raft of other awards.

“In this aristocratic world, you get to see a past that will never be again,” he said.

The festival will be at The Screening Room in Masterton from August 5-15.

  • More information, including screening times, is at http://www.cinemaitalianonz.com/#studio-italia-cinema-italiano-festival-nz


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