This year’s Italian Contemporary Film Festival is going to be bello, thanks to a few bella donnas you might know. As announced at press conference taking place at Toronto’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel this morning, actresses Nicoletta Braschi and Sarah Gadon will be attending the festival, which opens with a film centred on Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci.
Actress and producer Braschi joins ICFF as part of a special retrospective celebrating her work as well as the work of her husband/collaborator, Roberto Benigni. Titled “Roberto Benigni & Nicoletta Braschi: A Beautiful Life,” this special event, held at the TIFF Bell Lightbox from June 4 to 9, will precede the festival and feature screenings of films the couple worked on together, including the Benigni-directed Life is Beautiful and Johnny Stecchino, as well as Jim Jarmusch’s Down by Law. Both Benigni and Braschi will be on hand for post-screening Q&As, but Braschi will do a solo introduction for the June 6 screening of the 2004 Francesca Comencini film she starred in, I Like to Work (Mobbing).
“This exceptional couple has crafted magnificent films that are extremely important in the context of Italian modern cinema,” ICFF’s artistic director Cristiano de Florentiis said a press release on Tuesday. “This retrospective beautifully reflects Italian culture and weaves romance, tragedy, and comedy together in a way that is heartfelt and epic.”
Gadon, meanwhile, will serve as a jury member at ICFF this year. The Canadian actress, seen in films such as Belle, Cosmopolis and Enemy, will work alongside CBC film critic Eli Glasner and filmmaker R. Bruce Elder to determine the Best Short Film of the fest, as well as the winners of the Presenting Sponsor Award (or film that “has made the greatest contribution to Italian social and cultural values”) and Lifetime Achievement Award. The ICFF Audience Award will be determined by ICFF attendees, while the Toronto Film Critics Association will also select the best film of the fest.
One of the films that Gadon will need to watch at this year’s fest is opening night selection, L’Oriana, Marco Turco’s take on Oriana Fallaci, former member of anti-fascist group Giustizia e Libertà and important political writer until her 2006 death. This film will not only look at Fallaci’s controversial work as a reporter, but also at the personal issues she struggled with while trying to make a difference. Starring Italian actress Vittoria Puccini, L’Oriana will have its ICFF premiere on June 11 at Roy Thompson Hall.
Admittedly, there aren’t many other female-centric films in this year’s ICFF line-up, which consists of 65 films total. Of the list released today, only one film appeared to be directed by a woman and that is Just Say Yes. This documentary, directed by Maria Pecchioli, centres on two women trying to get married despite their culture’s lack of respect for their choice. Just Say Yes will be presented with the help of the Inside Out Film Festival, which hits Toronto later this month.
As for films that follow women, there is L’Amore non perdona, a film following a woman who finds herself interested in a younger man at her midlife mark. Meanwhile, Paolo Genovese’s comedy Sei mai stata sulla luna? closes out the festival on June 19, telling the tale of a woman who seems to have everything–looks, a great job at a fashion magazine, a luxury car–save for love … until she meets an irresistible farmer. The latter film will be presented by one of the films stars, Sabrina Impacciatore, whom you may have previously seen in The Passion of the Christ.
Finally, the ICFF also presents Duse and Me, a short film about non-Italian actress working in Italy. Duse and Me is directed by Italian-Canadian Antonio D’Alfonso.
The Italian Contemporary Film Festival runs from June 11 to 19 in Toronto, Vaughan, Mississauga, Hamilton, Montreal and Quebec City. For more information about the fest, including how to buy tickets and screening times, click here.