2001 Italian Film Festival - HOME

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Branchie

Country: Italy

Year: 1999

Run Time: 105 minutes (Italian w/ English Subtitles)

Director: Francesco Ranieri Martinotti

Writer: Nicolò Ammanniti

Producer: Laurentina Guidotto

Cast: Tomas Arana, Valentina Cervi, Gianluca Grignani

Date: 7 pm, Friday, June 15

Place: Royal Cinema

Director Francesco Martinotti brings the colourful, intense world of India to life in Branchie - part love story, part ecological fairytale - based on a novel by Nicolò Ammaniti. Punctuated by vivid visual underwater sequences and breathtaking cinematography, Branchie is the tale of a young man's mysterious and fantastic journey to the place of his dreams.

When Marco (played by rock star Gianluca Grignani), an ichthyologist with an obsessive passion for tropical fish and India, is called to Delhi to build the biggest aquarium in the city, he chooses to keep his mission a secret from his co-workers and girlfriend. Marco is plunged into a surreal universe suspended between dream and reality as he flees a gang of Buddhist monks and is befriended by a brotherhood of illuminated musicians seeking pure sound. India offers him true love with his ideal woman, as well as enticing temptations from a seductress.

Marco's extraordinary voyage is filled with dramatic turns of events, fantasy and poignant physical reality, and an important exploration of the meaning of life and death.

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La Déroute (Mr. Aiello)

Country: Canada

Year: 1998

Run Time: 110 minutes (French, Italian w/ English subtitles)

Director: Paul Tana

Writers: Bruno Ramirez, Paul Tana

Producers: Marc Daigle, Bernadette Payeur

Cast: John Dunn-Hill, Richard Lemire, Tony Nardi, Michèle-Barbara Pelletier

Date: 7pm, Saturday, June 16

Place: Royal Cinema

La Déroute is a continuation of director Paul Tana's fascination with the Italian immigrant's life-long struggle with tradition in a changing world. Set against the overcast skies of Montreal, the film explores the life of Joe Aiello (Tony Nardi), a renowned business person.

Joe's life appears to be a great success story. Despite such tragedies as his son's handicap and his wife's recent death, Joe is an Italian immigrant whose years of commitment to hard work and family have paid off. One of Joe's proudest moments is the graduation of his daughter Bonnie (Michele-Barbara Pelletier) from business school, but his plans for her at his construction company are of little interest to her. Her aspirations lie in photographing the clouds over Montreal and being in the arms of her boyfriend, Diego (Richard Lemire), an immigrant whose designs on Bonnie seem less than noble to Joe. Bonnie's independence is misinterpreted as defiance and Joe's control over his life slowly begins to disintegrate.

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Muzungu North American Premiere

Country: Italy

Year: 1999

Run Time: 100 minutes (Italian w/ English subtitles)

Director: Massimo Martelli

Writers: Paolo Catella, Giobbe Covatta

Producers: Franco Pannacci, Tore Sansonetti, Maurizio Tini

Cast: Felice Andreasi, Giobbe Covatta, Emanuela Grimalda, Paulo Maria Veronica

Date: 9:30pm, Saturday, June 16

Place: Royal Cinema

Following the best tradition of Italian comedy, three buffoonish characters are thrown into a situation where they are forced to come to terms with themselves and others in Massimo Martelli's award-winning film Muzungu.

Two male employees of a resort in Africa (Giobbe Covatta and Paolo Maria Veronica) reluctantly take a loud, spoiled female tourist (Emanuela Grimalda) in their small plane bound for a nearby city. After getting lost, they crash land in the middle of nowhere and end up in an isolated village run by Catholic missionaries. The trio is unable to understand why the missionaries and a conscientious objector have chosen to remain there. While they wait for transportation to take them out of the desolate area with its extreme poverty and illness, they gradually and hilariously become integrated into the life of the community.

This gentle social commentary focuses on the subtle transformation of the central character, who eventually learns that the greatest wealth is found in the smile of a child.

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Sono Positivo (I'm Positive)

Country: Italy

Year: 1999

Run Time: 96 minutes (Italian w/ English Subtitles)

Director: Cristiano Bortone

Writers: Cristiano Bortone, Cristiana Farina

Producers: Gianluca Arcopinto, Cristiano Bortone, Daniele Mazzocca

Cast: Joe D'Amato, Giovanni Esposito, Nino Frassica, Manrico Gammarota,
Cristina Liberati, Paolo Sassanelli.

Date: 7pm, Saturday, June 16

Place: Cumberland

Director Cristiano Bortone brings a lively, humorous approach to a subject normally treated with dark seriousness and focuses on celebration rather than tragedy to create an adventurous romp in Sono Positivo.

The lives of a vain housewife (Cristina Liberati), her straitlaced husband (Giovanni Esposito), her gay brother (Paolo Sassanelli) and her brother's best friend (Manrico Gammarato) are forever altered as each of them discovers they are HIV positive. It's unsure who infected whom, and mayhem and hilarity ensue as their rampant, unbridled sexuality and carefree, narcissistic lives come to an end. They now face a choice: to succumb to despair or embrace life and enjoy the few moments they have left.

An unusual and idiosyncratic take on life with AIDS, Sono Positivo shows how joy is possible in all circumstances - even in the face of death - and that certain doom is all the more reason to make the most of living.

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The Uncles

Country: Canada

Year: 2000

Run Time: 94 minutes (English)

Director: James Allodi

Writer: James Allodi

Producer: Nick de Pencier

Cast: Kelly Harms, Veronika Hurnik, Nicola Lipman, Chris Owens,
Tara Rosling, Dino Tavarone, Alan van Sprang

Date: 9:30pm, Saturday, June 16

Place: Cumberland

Writer and director James Allodi's humorous love story, The Uncles, traces the relationship between John Toma (Chris Owens) and two women.

John is caught between the conflicting demands of his family, job and his married girlfriend. Rochelle (Veronika Jurnik), John's girlfriend, is a beautiful graduate student who wants to leave her husband and start a family with him. Celia (Tara Rosling), John's sister, has a fixation with babies and brings home infants that she's found unattended on the street.

It becomes increasingly difficult for John and his brother, Marco (Kelly Harms), to deflect Celia's growing reputation as a crazy woman and a kidnapper. While John struggles with what to do with his girlfriend and their future together, he and Marco develop a radical solution to the problem of Celia: they decide to arrange for their sister to have a baby of her own. But their scheming has some unexpected results...which will change the family dynamic forever.

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Italian-Canadian Shorts

Date: 4pm, Sunday, June 17

Place: Bloor Cinema

A City, a Spy, a Woman

Country: Canada
Year: 2001
Run Time: 10 minutes (English)

Director: Paola Marino

Writer: Paola Marino
Producer: Paola Marino

In the city, love becomes voyeuristic. It is a dimension of dream, a projection of our desire. Sometimes it becomes carnal, but it lasts a few moments and the game continues.

Links

Country: Canada
Year: 2000
Run Time: 10 minutes (English)

Director: Nick Marciano

Writer: Nick Marciano, Mark Turkienicz
Producer: Mark Turkienicz

Depressed by the death of his wife, an elderly man realizes how great his life truly is after she appears to him in a series of vision.

Love Soldiers

Country: Canada
Year: 2000
Run Time: 25 minutes (English)

Director: Alberto Diamante

Writer: Alberto Diamante
Producer: Sergio Navarretta

Terrified by life, Alex Biondi decides he is going to kill himself. Before he dies, however, he wants to save his best friend Louie from a horrifying fate - marriage.

Over a Small Cup of Coffee

Country: Canada
Year: 2000
Run Time: 26 minutes (English)

Director: Sergio Navarretta

Writer: Sergio Navarretta
Producer: Alessandra Piccione

Damiano gains insight into life and is propelled toward his dream of becoming an accomplished actor by the conversations he overhears while working at his father's cafe.

Serra di Settembre

Country: Canada
Year: 2000
Run Time: 2 minutes (English)

Director: Anthony Christiano

Writer: Anthony Christiano
Producer: Anthony Christiano

A simple film made of, and about, trims: of film, art forms and life. The poem in the film, which is sung in Italian, is taken from the book Voiceless Lilies.

The Lunatic

Country: Canada
Year: 1999
Run Time: 36 minutes (English)

Director: Robert Longo

Writers: Victor Altomare, Robert Longo
Producers: Victor Altomare, Robert Longo

Tommy has been sentenced to 60 days of psychiatric observation for killing his wife. Now, to avoid the electric chair, he has to convince the doctors he's crazy.

The Tree

Country: Canada
Year: 1996
Run Time: 7 minutes (English)

Director: Nick Marciano

Writer: Nick Marciano
Producers: Nick Marciano , Tony Morrone

Two thousand years ago in the Middle East, a little girl protects a tree for reasons only she understands.

The following musical shorts, all pertaining to Italian music
and culture have been kindly submitted by Bravo!

Mon Coeur Sarah Willinsky 06 min. (Bravo)
Venice Canoe Zoe Dirse 06 min. (Bravo)
Blind Man's Bluff Cosimo Zitani 06 min. (Bravo)
Il Menu Matt Hornburg 04 min. (Bravo)
La Danza Drew Mulin 03 min. (Bravo)
Rage Ray Dumas 03 min (Bravo)
Nessun Dorma James Dunnison 03 min. (Bravo)
Il Mio Anthony Christiano 02 min. (Bravo)

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Bitter Circle

Country: Canada

Year: 2001

Run Time: 86 minutes (English)

Director: William F. Scott

Writers: Frank Caruso, Ronald Lee

Producer: Frank Caruso

Cast: Chad Bruce, Domenic Cuzzocrea, Kiki Inokai, Jason Ould, John Wildman

Date: 7pm, Sunday, June 17

Place: Bloor Cinema

In Bitter Circle, director William F. Scott investigates the emotional cost of criminal life, revealing the grief and confusion fuelling his protagonist's inner struggle.

Spiraling out of a confession to a prostitute (Kiki Inokai), Bitter Circle tells the story of undercover cop Dom (Domenic Cuzzocrea), whose life is coming apart due to one traumatic day when he killed a man by the name of Jonas (John Wildman).

The story is revealed via two means: Dom's confession to a prostitute and through Andy (Chad Bruce), a man saved by Jonas' murder, which Dom committed while investigating a ring of S&M/slasher-flick pornographers. The circular time structure and revolving door of characters creates a mosaic-like structure, adding texture to the film and fleshing out detail, character and the events leading up to the murder.

Both film noir and emotional drama, Bitter Circle's intimate narration plays off the seedy underbelly of the film's setting to create a compelling portrait of one man's journey through guilt.

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Caffe Italia Montréal

Country: Canada

Year: 1985

Run Time: 81 min (French, Italian w/ English subtitles)

Director: Paul Tana

Writers: Bruno Ramirez, Paul Tana

Producer: Marc Daigle

Cast: Pierre Curzi, Tony Nardi

Date: 9pm, Sunday, June 17

Place: Bloor Cinema

Through letters, dramatic recreations and in first person, Italian Quebecois share their stories of becoming new Canadians in Caffe Italia Montréal, Paul Tana's fascinating award-winning documentary/drama on Montreal's Italian Community.

Leaving poverty and lack of opportunities behind them, Italian immigrants boarded steamships bound for Halifax on the month-long voyage to a new life. One woman recounts the first time she saw a snowstorm, while another explains the Italian tradition of the vegetable garden as means of survival. There are stories of working on the Canadian Pacific Railroad, the arrests and internment camps of World War II and many other significant moments from the last century.

Paul Tana regular, Genie award-winning actor Tony Nardi, appears throughout the film in re-creations spanning the entire 20th century. This bittersweet film provides a humorous, sensitive account of Italians in Quebec, deeply divided between ties to their home country and the need to be accepted as equal partners in Quebec society.

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Sud Side Stori (South Side Story)

Country: Italy

Year: 2000

Run Time: n/a (Italian w/ English subtitles)

Director: Roberta Torre

Writers: Franco Maresco, Francesco Suriano, Roberta Torre

Producer: Leos Kamsteeg Gherardo Pagliei, Donatella Palermo, Elisabetta Riga

Cast: Forstine Ehobor, Roberto Rondelli

Date: 7pm, Sunday, June 17

Place: Royal Cinema

In this colourful, fast-paced update of Romeo and Juliet, director Roberta Torre brings us a funny and biting perspective on the prejudices of a society in flux.

Giulietto (Roberto Rodelli), an Elvis impersonator, is lost in a world of Marilyn Monroe, the 50s and Little Tony. Romea (Forstine Ehobor), a beautiful Nigerian prostitute, and her friends came to Palermo with hopes for a better future only to find themselves at the mercy of pimps and madams. When Romea moves in below Toni, the two fall in love at first sight. Giulietto's three harpy aunts, portly fiance and Romea's friends enlist the services of their witch doctors to keep the lovers apart. The surreal world of bizarre characters and caricatures comes alive through the lyrical telling of the tale, complete with rap music and wacky sets. A cameo by Little Tony as a punk-like fairy godmother renders the film even more fantastic.

Sud Side Stori poignantly, but unsentimentally, examines the issue of African immigration into southern Italy.

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Amore Nello Specchio (Love in the Mirror)

Country: Italy

Year: 1999

Run Time: 104 minutes (Italian w/ English Subtitles)

Director: Salvatore Maira

Writer: Salvatore Maira

Producer: Amedeo Letizia

Cast: Simona Cavallari, Anna Galiena, Peter Stormare

Date: 9:30pm, Sunday, June 17

Place: Royal Cinema

Salvatore Maira's stunning and sensual period piece, Amor Nello Specchio, takes us into the tumultuous world of a 17th century Italian playwright named Giovanni (Peter Stormare) and his loyal troupe of actors, the Company of Faithful Comics. Giovanni's plays reflect his inner struggles and primary source of inspiration - the beautiful women in his life - and the complex themes and relationships he creates for the stage in turn fuel his highly charged personal relationships.

The troupe agrees to produce an erotic play for its capricious patron, the Duke of Mantua, in order to travel abroad and fulfill Giovanni's dream of performing in Paris. The company's talented and strong-willed star, Giovanni's wife, is cast as the lead in the new work, Amor Nello Specchio, but her status in the company is threatened by a stunning neophyte, who seduces Giovanni in the hopes of obtaining a part in his play. Light and reflection play integral themes throughout the film, which exalts the artist, creativity, and the search for beauty and understanding.

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Regina degli Scacchi (Check and Mate)

Country: Italy

Year: 2001

Run Time: 98 minutes (Italian w/English subtitles)

Director: Claudio Florio

Writer: David Ambrose

Producer: Gianni Schettini

Cast: Ettore Bassi, Tony Bertorelli, Barbora Bobulova

Date: 7pm, Sunday, June 17

Place: Cumberland

As the title suggests, Claudia Florio's Regina degli Scacchi uses the metaphor of chess not only to describe an inner quest to isolate the truth, but also to portray sexual tension in power struggles. The film starts midway through the game with a problem and works backwards to the original set-up in order to find a solution. Disturbing psychological scars resurface in this elegant thriller.

Coldly ambitious teenage chess virtuoso Maria (Barbora Bobulova), rumored to beat her opponents in less than 20 minutes, meets Emilio (Ettore Bassi), an undercover cop posing as a journalist. His motives for approaching her are clouded in mystery as he slowly dismantles her emotional shield and brings back her past. Secrets are revealed about her tutor and parents, secrets which Maria cannot ignore; secrets which forced their way into her obsession with chess.

Unexpected twists and a tightly emotional story are presented in a cunningly conceived package: a chess game.

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La Sarrasine

Country: Canada

Year: 1992

Run Time: 105 minutes (French and Italian w/ English Subtitles)

Director: Paul Tana

Writers: Bruno Ramirez, Paul Tana

Producer: Marc Daigle

Cast: Jean Lapointe, Enrica Maria Modugno, Tony Nardi

Date: 7pm, Monday, June 18

Place: Cumberland

The working relationship between actor Tony Nardi and Director Paul Tana resulted in a trio of gripping portraits of the Italian community in Quebec. La Sarrasine, the second film in the series, explores the cultural tensions and friendships at the turn of the century.

Giuseppe (Tony Nardi), a tailor from Sicily who has lived in Montreal for more than a decade, runs a boarding house for Italian immigrants and stages a puppet play each Sunday of the epic battle between Tancred and Clorinda, which foreshadows the tragic events to come. The accidental death of Theo, the son-in-law of Giuseppe's French-Canadian friend Alphonse (Jean Lapointe), results in the sentencing of Giuseppe to death as an example to all immigrants. Giuseppe's wife, Ninetta (Enrica Maria Modugno), resists her husband's efforts to send her back to Italy, choosing to fight for his salvation, and in the process discovers an affinity for her adopted country instead of being driven away.

Tony Nardi won the Best Actor Genie for his performance as Giuseppe in this tragic story of cultural misunderstanding and friendship.

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Prime Luci dell'Alba (First Light of Dawn)

Country: Italy

Year: 2000

Run Time: 86 minutes (Italian w/ English Subtitles)

Director: Lucio Gaudino

Writer: Nicola Molino

Producers: Antonio Fusco II, Andrea de Liberato

Cast: Gianmarco Tognazzi, Francesco Giuffrida

Date: 9:30pm, Monday, June 18

Place: Cumberland

Director Lucio Gaudino conducts an intimate and tender exploration into the complex relationship between two brothers, each struggling with his own demons, fears and sense of identity, in Prime Luci dell'Alba.

After the brutal murder of their parents, the eldest son, Edoardo (Gianmarco Tognazzi), leaves his successful career in the north and returns home to Sicily to be with his younger brother Saro (Francesco Giuffrida), a disabled shut-in who requires constant care. The bond between two siblings who have suffered a great loss initially covers the lack of real intimacy and understanding. The two brothers have opposite reactions and coping mechanisms: Saro, angry and devastated at the loss of his parents, is unable to deal with his own fears and shortcomings and closes himself off; Edoardo copes by moving and not reflecting.

Through Lucio Guidano's subtle direction, we see a quiet celebration of the strength of love between brothers and its ability to redeem and renew.

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Sulla Spiggia e di là dal molo (On the Beach, Beyond the Pier)

Country: Italy

Year: 2000

Run Time: 137 min (Italian w/English subtitles)

Director: Giovanni Fago

Writers: Luciana Catalani, Giovanni Fago, Massimo Felisatti

Producers: Arturo La Pegna, Massimiliano La Pegna

Cast: Stéphane Freiss, Lorenza Indovina, Ludovica Modugno, Andrea Renzi, Laurent Terzieff

Date: 7pm, Monday, June 18

Place: Royal Cinema

The grand stage of Italian political history from the 1930s to the 1990s forms the backdrop to a classic love triangle, between two best friends and the woman between them in Sulla Spiagga.

The story opens in the small town of Viareggio, where a man has been brought in for psychiatric care at Andreas Giustiani (Andrea Renzi) mental hospital. The man is his best friend, Guido (Stéphane Freiss), who stole Giustiani's love, Nives (Lorenzo Indovina), away from him. He decides to help his friend's condition by recounting their past history. Thus, the story unfolds, moving between past and present, and then into the future. We learn of Guido's musical talent, Nives love for Guido, Guido's near-death experience at sea, Giustiani's care and respect for Nives, Guido's growing selfishness and, finally, the acceptance for past wrongs that only time can heal.

Giovanni Fago's sweeping tale strikes all the right chords of sentimentality without straying too far from the sense of time and place.

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Le Mani Forti (The Grey Zone) North American Premiere

Country: Italy

Year: 1997

Run Time: 95 minutes (Italian w/ English subtitles)

Director: Franco Bernini

Writers: Franco Bernini, Maura Nuccetelli

Producer: Domenico Procacci

Cast: Claudio Amendola, Francesca Neri

Time: 9:30pm, Monday, June 18

Place: Royal Cinema

Franco Bernini's psychodrama, Le Mani Forti, hangs on the edge of memory and paranoia, treading softly on the subtle balance of trust between analyst and patient.

Moving between 1993 and 1998 through flash forwards, the film revolves around a psychologist, Claudia Martinelli (Francesca Neri), who became a therapist after undergoing treatment for her late sister's violent death. Claudia discovers that her patient, Dario (Claudio Amendola), was very intimately involved in the killing and that he is part of a bigger piece of machinery: a subversive political force responsible for many acts of terrorism.

But what is said and what is true become blurred as Claudia must decide how much she can trust Dario and how far she can trust her own memories and thoughts. Charged by strong, nuanced performances from Neri and Amendola, and filmed in a muted palette of grey and gold, Le Mani Forti negotiates the dark and difficult terrain of human memory.

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Il Prezzo (Fatal Run)

Country: Italy

Year: 1999

Run Time: 115 minutes (Italian w/ English Subtitles)

Director: Rolando Stefanelli

Writers: Rolando Stefanelli, Claudio Lizza with the collaboration of Alain Le Henry

Producer: Rosanna Seregni

Cast: Chiara Caselli, Stefano Dionisi

Date: 8pm, Tuesday, June 19

Place: Royal Cinema

Nominated for the David di Donatello award for Best Directorial Debut, Rolando Stefanelli takes viewers on a gritty, gripping ride in his road movie, Il Prezzo.

Alcoholic Romano (Stefano Dionisi), is forced to accept a mission as a drug-runner. To complete his disguise as a tourist, Romano convinces his former girlfriend, Alba (Chiara Caselli), to accompany him on the trip after his current girlfriend refuses.

Travelling from the bleak outskirts of Rome, across France, Austria and Germany, to the heart of Amsterdam's world of sex and drugs, the tension between Romano and Alba increases, as he struggles to survive and she struggles to win back his affections. Romano eventually find himself torn between the ex-girlfriend he has lured on this dangerous mission and the loving woman he has left behind. Travelling on a disquieting and penetrating journey to "life on the edge," Romano becomes a hero in to true noir tradition.

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