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Lavazza Italian Film Festival: Culture Guide
By Sarah Ward
September 10, 2019
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By Sarah Ward
September 10, 2019
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A comprehensive guide to exploring Italian film, culture and cuisine in Sydney.

The history of Italian cinema is brimming with highlights. Think filmmakers such as Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni and Bernardo Bertolucci; stars like Sophia Loren, Franco Nero and Monica Bellucci; and genres such as post-war neorealism, spaghetti westerns and giallo horror. The list goes on, with the country boasting the most Oscar wins in the Best Foreign-Language Film category, and the second-most Palme d’Ors from the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.

Italy is also home to the world’s oldest film festival, in Venice. Perhaps that’s why Italian movies and long-running big-screen celebrations seem to go hand in hand — like the Australia-wide Lavazza Italian Film Festival. First reaching cinemas in 2000, the fest celebrates its 20th year in 2019, treating film buffs to 26 titles that not only span Italy’s recent movie-making prowess, but also showcases the nation’s past hits.

To help you make the most of the festival, we’ve put together a guide to celebrating Italian culture in Brisbane. Check out the films we recommend nabbing tickets for — then find somewhere to get a bite to eat before or after your cinema visit.

Cinema History

Just a year after unveiling their invention in Paris, the Lumière brothers brought cinema to Italy, with the country’s first film screenings taking place in 1896. By the end of the 19th century, the duo’s Italian proteges were making their own short films.

Cuisine

While similar dishes date back to the Neolithic age — beginning in around 10,200BC — the first use of the term ‘pizza’ only occurred in 997 AD. At the time, it was customary to give 12 pizzas to the local bishop on both Christmas and Easter.

Geography

Sprawling across more than 300,000 square kilometres bordered by Switzerland, France, Austria and Slovenia, Italy isn’t just home to one country. Enclosed within its landmass are two separate enclaves: San Marino and Vatican City.

Tourism

One of the world’s most-visited countries, Italy is home to three of the world’s top ten most popular tourist attractions from 2018: Rome’s Colosseum and Vatican Museums (including the Sistine Chapel), as well as Venice’s Grand Canal.

FILMS TO SEE

Variety is crucial to every great Italian menu, including at the Lavazza Italian Film Festival. Grab a wine, settle into your seat and prepare to feast your eyes on a wide array of movies, spanning upbeat comedies, powerful dramas, thorny thrillers and more. Highlighting the best that Italian cinema has to offer, this year’s lineup has something for all tastes. And, it promises a rare treat, too — serving up flicks you won’t see on a big screen anywhere else.

The Vice of Hope

This sensitive, social-realist crime drama tells the tale of a woman caught up in the child trafficking trade.

I'm Not a Killer

Italian star Ricardo Scamarcio plays a cop whose best friend is found dead in this twisty murder mystery.

Don't Stop Me Now

Mid-life malaise meets the spy game in a comedy that promises something different within two well-worn genres.

Promised

An Australian-made affair about love, life and tradition, featuring a huge Italian-Australian cast including Tina Arena and Paul Mercurio.

The Conformist

First released in 1971 and set in the 1930s, Bernado Bertolucci’s political drama ranks among the acclaimed filmmaker’s masterpieces.

Loro

A new director’s cut of Paolo Sorrentino’s 2018 hit, which explores the over-the-top life of media tycoon-turned-politician Silvio Berlusconi.

FILMS TO SEE

Variety is crucial to every great Italian menu, including at the Lavazza Italian Film Festival. Grab a wine, settle into your seat and prepare to feast your eyes on a wide array of movies, spanning upbeat comedies, powerful dramas, thorny thrillers and more. Highlighting the best that Italian cinema has to offer, this year’s lineup has something for all tastes. And, it promises a rare treat, too — serving up flicks you won’t see on a big screen anywhere else.

A Little Italy in Brisbane

Partial to a prosciutto-topped pizza? Love tucking into a bowl of gnocchi doused with as much parmesan as possible? Do you go crazy for calzones — or a good scoop of gelato? Whether you’re looking for antipasti in South Bank, saucy lasagne in the Valley, a cannolo in Bulimba or tiramisu in Newstead, there’s plenty to tempt your Italian-loving tastebuds, all without leaving Brisbane.

Cafes

1. Cafe Gia

Breakfast meatballs and brownie sandwiches.

2. Il Molo

Home to pappardelle and chocolate and raspberry doughnuts.

3. Mister Paganini

South Bank's fun Italian restaurant and takeaway deli.

4. Esher St Cafe and Deli

You won't walk away empty handed from the homely Esher St Deli.

Pizza Joints

1. Prova Pizzeria

They had us at make-your-own charcuterie boards.

2. Harry's Pizza

Nab a $5 pizza at Welcome to Bowen Hills' permanent pizza place.

3. Neighbourhood Pizza

A put-together pizza and drinks joint in the 'burbs.

4. Sugo Mi

The pizza here pulls in loyalists from all over Brisbane.

Restaurants

1. Otto Ristorante

The Sydney gem has come to Queen Street.

2. Italian Street Kitchen

A winning combo of pasta, pizza and Italian snacks — all for under $20 a dish.

3. Factory 51

Industrial meets rustic.

4. Bucci

Bucci: no exercise in style over substance

A Little Italy in Brisbane

Partial to a prosciutto-topped pizza? Love tucking into a bowl of gnocchi doused with as much parmesan as possible? Do you go crazy for calzones — or a good scoop of gelato? Whether you’re looking for antipasti in South Bank, saucy lasagne in the Valley, a cannolo in Bulimba or tiramisu in Newstead, there’s plenty to tempt your Italian-loving tastebuds, all without leaving Brisbane.

CP Picks

Where to find Brisbane's best Italian food.

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