Festival of Italian film opens at Lucerna

Several directors will come to introduce their latest screen works

The fifth annual festival of Italian film, called Mittel Cinema Fest, takes place Nov. 30 to Dec. 5 at Kino Lucerna in Prague. Films will be shown in their original versions with English and Czech subtitles. 

The Czech Republic joins the festival for the fifth time, though the festival is in its 15th year and has been in Hungary and Slovakia for longer.

The festival will be in Brno for the third time from Dec. 9 to 11 and in Ostrava for the first time on Dec. 7 and 8.

The festival offers recent works of Italian cinema that won prizes at international film festivals and had a strong critical and audience response.

“This year, too, we would like to invite you to dream with an Italian film,” Italian Ambassador Aldo Amati and Italian Cultural Institute director Giovanni Sciola said in a press release.

“The new and successful works of our last film season are coming to the Czech Republic on the occasion of this fifth year of the festival, which takes place at the end of an especially fruitful and significant period for the Italian film. As we have promised, this time we offer a very varied and attractive program that shows different aspects of Italy: national character, social problems, humor and the spirit of the nation, as well as the new talents of its cinema,” they said.

The festival opens with the Czech premiere of the film Wife and Husband (Moglie e marito / Manželka a manžel) with the participation of director Simone Godano.

The film is a comedy about a couple who exchange personalities and memories due to an experiment that goes wrong. The wife winds up having to pretend to be a surgeon at a hospital, and the husband winds up on camera as a popular female TV presenter.

Directors will participate in other screenings as well. Love and Bullets (Amore e malavita / Láska a podsvětí) will be introduced by directors Antonio Manetti and Marco Manetti on Dec. 2. Love and Bullets were described by Variety as a “loud and brash musical about a Camorra boss and his henchmen.” The musical numbers come at key moments to advance the plot.

Crater (Il cratere / Krater) will be introduced by directors Silvia Luzi and Luca Bellino. The film looks at a father in Naples who tries to make a star out of his daughter, who has been performing on videos. Screen International called it “a poignant slice of neo-realism by Italian documentarians turned debut feature helmers.”

There are several other films in the festival as well that are worth checking out. Equilibrium (L'equilibrio' / Rovnováha) takes viewers to an impoverished area where a priest tries to fight against illegal toxic waste disposal.

There is also Cinderella the Cat (Gatta Cenerentola / Kočičí Popelka), an animated musical fairytale that does have some dark themes. “Set almost entirely aboard a retro-futuristic ship in the harbor of Naples, the story re-imagines Cinderella as a 17-year-old, vaguely emo-punk chick,” the Hollywood Reporter said in its positive review, adding that the film is “a crazy, music-filled and intentionally somewhat chaotic ride.”

The last film in the festival is Emma (Il Colore nascosto delle cose / Skrytá barva věcí). According to Variety, it is about a recently divorced woman who has been blind since the age of 16. She becomes involved with a work-obsessed womanizer at an ad agency who unexpectedly falls in love with her.

In total there are 10 films on the program for Prague.

The festival will conclude Dec. 5 with a concert by the Bohuslav Martinů Philharmonic Orchestra from Zlín, which will perform film music by Astor Piazzolla and others. Walter Attanasi will conduct.

For more information visit www.mittelcinemafest.cz or www.facebook.com/pg/MittelCinemaFest

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