San Diego Italian Film Festival returns in person Thursday
Speaker 1: (00:00)
San Diego Italian film festival returns in person on Thursday at the museum of photographic arts, KPBS arts reporter, Beth Huck Amando gets a preview with the festivals artistic director, Antonio Ionata
Speaker 2: (00:14)
Antonio, the San Diego Italian film festival finally got back to in-person events last month. So how did it feel to finally reconvene with a real audience?
Speaker 3: (00:26)
Well, Beth, it was wonderful. It was really amazing. And, uh, and also emotional finally, you know, to use our whole body and not just our heads in a screen, if felt that you felt really good, but you know, being there and exchanging ideas, exchanging conversations that exchanges our presence, laughing together, being terrorized together, crying together is one of the most important things. When we go in a theater and share a story and an emotion, but everybody was happy and everybody had a very, a very good experience. So we look forward to more events in person. Well,
Speaker 2: (01:08)
I think being home alone during this pandemic and watching so many films and events via zoom, I think people may be forgetting the importance of that communal aspect of watching a film,
Speaker 3: (01:23)
Watching a theme or whatever, you know, arts, uh, event that in person, but when they are there, uh, everybody felt something, something different. So I think it's really important. And, uh, um, and it's worth the effort because when we're there, we see that much more than, uh, you know, what we can do via via zoom or via whatever, you know, whatever app on his screen, don't get me wrong. We had a beautiful experience these last 16, 18 months. I don't even want to count because we, we had the possibility to engage in conversations and discussions with so many guests from Italy. That for, you know, it's more festival like ours, it's something priceless, but being there with actual human beings and, and share an experience, it's something completely different.
Speaker 2: (02:18)
So last month your monthly film series went back to in-person and this week the actual festival is returning to in-person. So you are opening on Thursday night. And what are you planning for this opening night?
Speaker 3: (02:31)
We were planning something, something special, a an extraordinary movie based on also an extraordinary novel that is also available in English. Lachy is the title in Italian and in English is the tie. So it's a movie about, uh, how a family can stick together if love disappears. And, uh, I'm not going to tell more in terms of the plot, but in terms of the structure of the movie, it's really interesting because we start in Naples, uh, at the beginning of the eighties and all of a sudden the characters, the father, the mother, and the two kids. So we are, uh, for ward, you know, 30 years from now. So we have this time structures back and forward where it seems that at a certain point, it seems like a science fiction movie, but it's very rooted in family values and family pressures and how to try not to ruin too much the life of our children.
Speaker 3: (03:37)
Uh, it's a very powerful movie. It's a very strong movie. And, you know, the overall theme for this festival is, uh, is resilience. So we have movies that really deal with that. We couldn't pick another theme for this year, of course, but, you know, we, we are addressing that as the art of resilience, because we really believe that art and film and cinema in this case in particular can, can change our lives. And we can rely on that in moments where, you know, literally the world is falling apart. And so through the cinema, through our movies. So we believe we can not only resist, but even thrive and become hopefully better human beings.
Speaker 2: (04:25)
And another thing about the festival that people may not be aware of, if they haven't gone is your focus is on contemporary Italian cinema. And how does this film reflect what's going on in Italian cinema right now? Is it representative of what's going on in Italy?
Speaker 3: (04:41)
Absolutely. It's a, it's a, um, we curated very, you know, attentively what's going on right now in, uh, in, uh, in cinema, in Italy, in the theater. So mainstream movies and in festival where you have maybe, you know, um, movies that don't circulate so much around the, you know, the bigger cities, independent movies. So the effort is to have a Reela real window on Italian cinema today as if we were in Italy right now. And in like in Roma as well as at the Venice film festival. So the, the effort is really to, to bring a variety of genre, a variety of approaches, a variety of perspectives on what we consider the best contemporary Italian movies. So we have movies like Lachy, uh, tomorrow night. That was the opening FEMA at the Venice film festival, not this year, last year when we were in the, in the, you know, in the middle of the pandemic.
Speaker 3: (05:47)
And at the same time, we have movies that are very, very small, a low budget, independent that are pretty much impossible to watch if you don't come to our festival like October the eighth, a wonderful documentary about arenas, Anita, that is enabled in, in Naples, they gain in Naples that tell us an incredible story of resilience around a church, a priest that put together a bunch of, uh, youth of a Neapolitan, very educated, uh, uh, young boys and girls that were able to transform, uh, some, uh, part of the, uh, arts, uh, patrimony Naples into a business. So it's an incredible story. And the fact that we have two movies about Naples one after the other reflects on the status of the importance of the feed Marta in Naples today.
Speaker 2: (06:48)
Now I had the pleasure of serving on the jury for the restreto awards and explain what this is, because in addition to showing feature films, you have a focus on short films. Yes,
Speaker 3: (06:59)
This is the third edition of, of our restraint awards. It's a film festival dedicated to shorter. It's open not only to Italian directors from Italy, but to everybody that can focus on any, a theme or Italian-American theme or something that deals with, uh, our culture or an interpretation of our culture. So during the festival online, this is one of the content that is available online. Uh, our audience can watch the 16 shorts that made the, into the final and also vote for them. And during our gala, uh, October 23rd, that we will announce the winners of the competition and we will screen the winners.
Speaker 2: (07:48)
All right. Well, I want to thank you very much for talking about the now back to in-person San Diego Italian film festival.
Speaker 3: (07:54)
Thank you, Beth. We are back.
Speaker 1: (07:57)
That was Beth Armando speaking with Antonio Ionata San Diego Italian film festival runs tomorrow through October 30th, both online and at the museum of photographic arts.
feStivale showcases seven in-person films, two online films and 16 shorts
San Diego Italian Film Festival, or SDIFF, hosts its 15th annual feStivale with a return to in-person events at the Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) starting Oct. 7.
Reflecting what the world has gone through this past year-and-a-half, SDIFF has chosen Resilience as this year's theme. During October, the festival will showcase seven in-person films, two online films and 16 shorts for its third annual Ristretto Shorts Competition (for which I was one of the judges).
Antonio Iannotta, SDIFF's artistic director, was thrilled to return to in-person screenings for the monthly film screening in September at both MOPA and La Paloma.
"It was wonderful and also emotional finally to use our whole body, not just our heads in a screen," Iannotta said. "We try to be as safe as possible but being there and exchanging ideas, exchanging conversations, laughing together, terrorized together, crying together is one of the most important things when we go in a theater and share a story and emotion."
This Thursday, SDIFF will be sharing its opening night film "Lacci (The Ties)" with audiences at MOPA. The film ties into the festival's theme of resilience but with a twist.
"It's a movie about how a family can stick together if love disappears," Iannotta explained. "I'm not going to tell more in terms of the plot, but in terms of the structure of the movie. It's really interesting because we start in Naples at the beginning of the 1980s and all of a sudden, the characters, the father, the mother and the two kids, we are forward 30 years from now. So we have this time structure moving back and forth in the movie, where it seems that at a certain point it seems like a science fiction movie, but it's very rooted, family values and family pressures and how to try not to ruin too much the life of our children. It's a very powerful movie. It's a very strong movie."
That theme of resilience is also meant to be reflected in the the art of filmmaking, not just in terms of the content of the stories.
"We really believe that art and film, and cinema in this case in particular, can change our lives," Iannotta said. "And we can rely on that in moments where literally the world is falling apart. And so through the cinema, through our movies, we believe we can not only resist but even thrive and become hopefully better human beings."
The festival's focus is to highlight contemporary Italian films.
"We try to provide through our movies an Italian perspective on issues that are important for Italians and for San Diegans and Italian Americans here," Iannotta stated. "So we use that as a tool to foster discussion and conversation and having the filmmakers, producers, screenwriters, editors from Italy."
During the pandemic, SDIFF kept its film community connected through online screenings and Zoom discussions every month. It took full advantage of the fact that it could bring in directors from Italy for discussions without incurring any costly travel expenses. Although Italian filmmakers may not be as readily available at the in-person festival, SDIFF is dedicated to creating discussions around all its films.
Another part of the festival is the annual Ristretto Awards, a showcase of short films.
"It's open not only to Italian directors from Italy but to everybody that can focus on an Italian theme or Italian American theme or something that deals with our culture or an interpretation of our culture," Iannotta explained. "So during the festival, this is one of the content available online, our audience can watch the 16 shorts that made it into the final and also vote for them. The jury already decided the main awards but there is still an award the audience can vote on and decide. Then during our gala on Oct. 23, we will announce the winners of the competition and we will screen the winners."
The 15th feStivale kicks off Oct. 7 and runs selects nights and online through Oct. 30. Check the online schedule for more details about screening times and film titles.