It's Australia's annual slice of Italian cinema, and it's back for 2018 in its usual jam-packed fashion. That'd be the Italian Film Festival, which not only returns for its 19th year, but does so with a hefty touring lineup of 37 features and two short films, including 33 Australian premieres. It heads to Melbourne's Palace Cinema Como, Palace Westgarth, Palace Balwyn, Palace Brighton Bay, Kino Cinemas and The Astor Theatre from September 13 to October 7.
Bookending the festival are two movies that couldn't be more timely, one delving into a media tycoon who becomes a world leader (no, not that one), and the other a stone cold horror classic that has just been remade by one of today's best Italian filmmakers. Exploring the scandals surrounding former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Loro kicks off this year's fest with an epic, nearly two-and-a-half hour drama from The Great Beauty and The Young Pope's Paolo Sorrentino. Then, at the other end of the event comes Dario Argento's original 1977 giallo masterpiece Suspiria — just weeks before the new Tilda Swinton and Dakota Johnson-starring version from Call Me By Your Name's Luca Guadagnino hits cinemas.
Elsewhere, IFF also boasts three of the biggest Italian flicks doing the rounds of this year's international festival circuit, courtesy of Dogman, Happy as Lazzaro and Daughter of Mine. A diverse trio from a diverse range of Italian talents, the first sees Gomorrah's Matteo Garrone spin a story about a criminal who loves dogs (winning this year's Palm Dog Award at Cannes for its canine cast), the second unravels a time-bending fable from The Wonders' Alice Rohrwacher, and the third offers a devastating look at two mothers and the daughter they share courtesy of Sworn Virgin's Laura Bispuri.
Other highlights range across the entire spectrum of Italian offerings — think comedies based on off-Broadway plays, such as My Big Gay Italian Wedding; underworld dramas like Boys Cry; and an amusing mystery about an inspector investigating the death of a local prosecco wine maker, as aptly called The Last Prosecco. Or, there's also detective thriller The Girl in the Fog, based on the best-selling novel and starring Italian veteran (and Loro actor) Toni Servillo; plus Italian box-office hit Couples Therapy for Cheaters, which focuses on exactly the narrative you think it does.
And, looking back at cinema history as film festivals crucially do, this year's IFF retrospective will showcase the work of Italian-Turkish filmmaker Ferzan Özpetek. If his name sounds familiar, that's because he had a hand in movies such as Naples in Veils, Facing Windows and Ignorant Fairies — and if his name doesn't ring any bells, here's your chance to discover his celebrated filmography.