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Italian Film Festival 2023

Attenzione: Melbourne's celebration of Italian cinema is back for another year of Europe-set big-screen must-sees.
By Sarah Ward
August 24, 2023
By Sarah Ward
August 24, 2023

What begins in Milan, then heads to Puglia and the Italian Alps, plus Naples, Sicily, Tuscany, Florence and Rome, too? An impressive getaway, and also the 2023 Italian Film Festival. What dives into history, includes love and treasures, and also soul-searching journeys, stunning threads, labyrinths and great art? Again, a dream holiday, and also Australia's annual celebration of Italy's best and brightest on the big screen.

Running from Thursday, September 21–Wednesday, October 18 at Palace Balwyn, Palace Brighton Bay, Palace Cinema Como, Palace Westgarth, The Kino, Pentridge Cinema, The Astor Theatre and Cinema Nova in Melbourne, 2023's IFF will open with The Last Night of Amore, which is where the fest's jaunt to Milan comes in, and one of its thrillers as well. Making its Australian premiere after a successful stint at the Italian box office, writer/director Andrea Di Stefano's (The Informer) police flick stars Pierfrancesco Favino (The Hummingbird) as it tells of an about-to-retire honest cop facing a chaotic, crime-riddled, corruption-fuelled situation.

Also among the event's spotlight flicks, Kidnapped sits in the centrepiece slot, recreating the tale of the Vatican's abduction of a young Jewish boy in the 19th century, plus as the scandal that unsurprisingly followed. As part of a focus on actor, filmmaker and screenwriter Massimo Troisi, 1994's The Postman, the talent's two-time Oscar-nominated final film, will close out the fest with a 50s-set whirlwind of love and friendship. There's more where they both came from — more special-presentation and special-event movies, and more of Troisi's work.

First, the features getting some extra IFF love. Starring Josh O'Connor (Mothering Sunday) and directed by Alice Rohrwacher (Futura), La Chimera heads to 80s-era Tuscany as a British archaeologist gets caught up in ring selling stolen Italian wares — while Beautiful Boy's Felix van Groeningen shares directing duties with his The Broken Circle Breakdown co-screenwriter Charlotte Vandermeersch on The Eight Mountains, which stars Luca Marinelli (Martin Eden) and Alessandro Borghi (Devils), and won 2022's Cannes Jury Prize. Also, Burning Hearts dives into crime and revenge in black and white, Carravagio's Shadow features Riccardo Scamarcio (John Wick: Chapter 2) as the eponymous painter, and documentary The Genius of Gianni Versace Alive unravels its namesake fashion designer's career.

With IFF's Troisi retrospective, viewers can see three more of his films: 1981 comedy I'm Starting From Three, his debut as both a big-screen actor and director; Nothing Left to Do But Cry, where he acts opposite and travels back in time with Roberto Benigni (Pinocchio); and the cinema-adoring Splendour, also featuring the late, great Marcello Mastroianni. And, there's also Mario Martone's (Nostalgia) doco Somebody Down There Likes Me, about his exploration of Troisi's movies.

Elsewhere on the bill, Nanni Moretti (Three Floors) directs himself playing a director grappling with today's streaming reality in A Brighter Tomorrow; Strangeness enlists Toni Servillo (The Hand of God) as Literature Nobel Prize-winning playwright Luigi Pirandello; The First Day of My Life also features the prolific actor, this time in the latest effort from Perfect Strangers' helmer Paolo Genovese; and both Like Sheep Among Wolves and Prophets sit among the fest's thrillers. The list goes on, including the family-friendly Supernova and The Properties of Metals, plus comedies Orlando and My Shadow Is Your Shadow. And, there's the music-focused My Soul Summer featuring Italian X Factor-winner Casadilego.

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