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Open Roads:
New Italian Cinema

(Click here for Open Road Film Reviews)

Written by Frank J. Avella

Crime Novel (Romanzo Criminale)

Professionally Designed Postcards - $99

Crime Novel (Romanzo Criminale)

Bravo to the Film Society of Lincoln Center for continuously striving to bring diverse and under-appreciated motion pictures from around the globe to New York City.

For the next week, FSoLC presents it’s sixth (and let us pray annual) Open Roads: New Italian Cinema showcase which features a handful of the most tantalizing films Italy has to offer.

Italian films have all but been ignored lately along the festival circuit and very few are released here annually. Foreign films in general have a difficult time getting wide distribution--mostly due to US audience’s idiotic disdain for reading subtitles. (read: lazy).

In the recent past, Italy has produced quite a few runaway hits such as the sweet Il Postino and the polarizing Life is Beautiful (La Vita e’ Bella), but in the last few years Italian movies have all but disappeared from U.S. theatres. And that’s a terrible shame because there has been an exciting renaissance of sorts in current Italian cinema. The brilliant Best of Youth (La Meglio Gioventu’) is a terrific example of the amazing work being done in this new millennium. These new and wonderful films go a long way towards eradicating the blemish buffoonish Roberto Benigni left on America.

Open Roads boasts some of the best directors working at the top of their craft. The list includes: Michele Placido, Carlo Verdone, Ferzan Ozpetek and Gabriele Salvatores (Oscar winner for Mediterraneo). The series also features some of most powerful acting from some of Italy’s best thespians including: Angela Baraldi (who is actually a rock singer), Stefano Accorsi, Claudio Santamaria, Pierfrancesco Favino, Jasmine Trinca, Barbora Borbulova, Alessio Boni and Kim Rossi Stuart (who also directs his first feature and, if there is any justice in world cinema, will be a household name one day soon!)

The fest opens with a comedy that has become a huge hit in Italy: My Best Enemy (Il mio migliore nemico). The program also includes: the Donatello (Italian Oscar) winner Sacred Heart; Massimo Andrei’s Mater Natura, set in Naples and Michele Placido’s epic Crime Novel (Romanzo Criminale), which is simply a masterpiece.

What accounts for the creative eruption of quality? Perhaps the Burlesconi regime (which is now over!) Although Film Society’s Program Director Richard Peña has a different notion: "Defined by neither a political position nor an aesthetic approach, this generation has been unified by a spirit of independence, of breaking away from old models and genres. Some of this independence has been forced on them, as the collapse of the old structures of the Italian cinema has required filmmakers to really make it on their own. But this spirit is also indicative of the myriad backgrounds, experiences, and influences this new generation brings to their films."

Regardless of the reasons, I’ll bet the master, Fellini, is watching proudly and smiling right now...wherever he may be...

OPEN ROADS: NEW ITALIAN CINEMA: at the Walter Reade Theater thru June 9.

Tickets for OPEN ROADS: NEW ITALIAN CINEMA screenings are available at the Walter Reade Theater box office and online at Ticket prices are $10 for adults, $7 for students, $6 for FSLC members, and $5 for seniors for weekday matinees before 6 p.m. For more information, log on to or call (212) 875-5600.



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