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Matilde Maggio, one of the rising stars of Italian Cinema, will be in Australia to launch the 12th Lavazza Italian Film Festival. Maggio will officially open the Festival in Melbourne on September 14 and Sydney on September 15 and will also introduce select screenings of her latest film, Martino’s Summer, a sensitive coming of age drama, which screens as part of this year’s event.

With over 1,000 sessions nationally, the Festival will open with Welcome To The South, an Italian adaptation of Dany Boon’s French comedy Welcome to The Sticks. Applauded by Variety as being, “that rarity, a remake better and subtler than the original,” this box office hit, which has taken over 30 million Euros in Italy alone, follows the adventures of postal worker, Albert, who dreams of being transferred to Milan, but instead finds himself sent to a small southern town which he is convinced must be an uncouth backwater awash with mafia intrigue.

For the opening nights, Lavazza will be shaking up Lavazza Mocha Martinis from their own cocktail bar.

Festival highlights include:
18 YEARS LATER (18 Anni Dopo) Directed by Edoardo Leo
Brothers Mirko and Genziano have not had contact in 18 years. While Genziano is a successful London stockbroker, Mirko is still in Rome helping to run the family mechanics business. When their father dies, the two brothers are reunited and forced to hit the road together in a vintage Morgan car, driving their father's ashes to Calabria as specified in his will.

20 CIGARETTES (20 Sigarette) Directed by Aureliano Amadei
Based on director Aureliano Amadei's 2003 experiences in Iraq, this is the gripping story of a 28 year-old anarchist and anti-war activist who receives an offer to fly to Iraq as assistant director on a film about the Italian military "peace mission". Thrust into the middle of a military world he doesn't approve of, he is surprised to discover a brotherhood and shared values amongst the people he meets. 

A QUIET LIFE (Una Vita Tranquilla) Directed by Claudio Cupellini
Rosario Russo (Toni Servillo) is living near Frankfurt where he runs a restaurant and hotel and has integrated perfectly into the local community with his family. He keeps a low profile, has changed his name and he speaks German. Life is good, until one day the introverted Diego and street-smart Edoardo turn up at the hotel and subsequently drag Rosario back into the past he wanted to forget. 

THE AGES OF LOVE (Manuale D’Amore 3) Directed by Giovanni Veronesi
The third instalment in the beloved MANUAL OF LOVE series, presents three stories illustrating the three ages of man – Youth, Maturity and Beyond – and features an all-star cast from series favourite, Carlo Verdone, to screen legend, Robert De Niro (speaking Italian) who stars opposite the dazzling Monica Bellucci.

CORPO CELESTE (Corpo Celeste) Directed by Alice Rohrwacher
Set in the dilapidated streets of Reggio Calabria, the film follows 13-year-old Marta who has recently returned from Switzerland with her mother and sister, and now spends her days eating frozen pizza and wandering around the local area. Bright-eyed and restless, she observes her surroundings but feels very much an outsider. Maria's only social interaction is with the local church where she prepares for her upcoming confirmation with the town's priest, Don Mario and passionate religious instructor Santa.

ESCORT IN LOVE (Nessuno Mi Può Giudicare) Directed by Massimiliano Bruno
Alice, a housewife and mother to 9 year-old Filippo, who enjoys a luxurious lifestyle, finds her world turned upside down when her husband dies unexpectedly, leaving her with a massive debt. In need of cash, and with no skills, Alice moves to her former butler’s neighborhood and turns to the oldest profession in the world, progressing from awkward amateur to seductive professional, and finding love along the way.

THE PASSION (La Passione) Directed by Carlo Mazzacurati
When an apartment belonging to Gianni, a washed-up director, leaks and ruins the 16th century fresco of the chapel next door, he is blackmailed into directing the local Good Friday Pageant in return for legal immunity. The retelling of the Passion is a tradition that still occurs in small towns all over Italy but Gianni's task is a monumental one with no script, talent or costumes. Worst of all he has to contend with a deadpan local weatherman who has been cast as Jesus.

WE BELIEVED (Noi Credevamo) Directed by Mario Martone
Commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Risorgimento – the movement that created modern Italy from a group of disparate states – the Festival is proud to present this epic dramatization of the political and social forces that led to Italian independence. Set during the nation's difficult birth from the 1820s to the 1870s when conflicting interests – north against south and monarchist against republican – made the path to unity a fraught and often violent one, three young men – Domenico, Salvatore and Angelo – dream of a unified Italy but their idealism soon turns to disillusionment, paranoia and murder.

WE HAVE A POPE (Habemus Papam) Directed by Nanni Moretti
Following the funeral of the Pope, the red robed cardinals convene to elect a successor. Cardinal Gregori is the odds-on favorite but surprisingly is beaten in the second round by French cardinal Melville (Michel Piccoli.) But as Melville is led towards the balcony to address the waiting crowds, he has a panic attack and flees. While the Vatican spokesman, madly troubleshoots, a psychoanalyst (Nanni Moretti) is brought in to assess and cure the future pontiff.

Published September 8, 2011

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Martino's Summer

Melbourne (14 Sept – 5 Oct), 
Sydney (15 Sept – 5 Oct), 
Brisbane (5 – 23 Oct), 
Adelaide (12 - 30 Oct) 
Perth (13 – 26 Oct).
Festival website

Welcome to the South

Escort in Love

Lost Kisses

20 Cigarettes

We Have a Pope

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