Kicking off with a light-hearted caper, ending with happy tears — that's what we look for in an Italian jaunt. And even if you're not heading over to Europe anytime soon, sitting in a cinema this September might be the next best thing, in the form of the 2017 Italian Film Festival.
Marking its 18th year, Australia's annual celebration of Italy's filmmaking finest will kick off with screwball effort Let Yourself Go!, which won the 2017 Italian Golden Globe for best comedy, stars The Great Beauty's Toni Servillo, and follows a tightly wound psychoanalyst's dalliance with an upbeat personal trainer. Bookending the festival is a 20th anniversary screening of Roberto Benigni's bittersweet Life Is Beautiful, an Academy Award winner for best foreign language film.
One of the more popular film events in Australia, IFF's 28-film, six-week national tour features brand new highlights, excursions off the beaten track, jaunts all over the country and an ode to coffee. Yes, there really is a film called Coffee in the program, which intertwines three tales about everyone's favourite caffeinated brew, and was inspired by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's 2006 Oscar-winner Babel.
As for the rest of the fest, highlights include the tender portrait of conjoined twin sisters that is Indivisible (the festival's centrepiece), to Sea Girls Dreaming, a documentary about carefree grandmothers living in the tiny Italian mountain village of Daone. Plus, Italian movie buffs can also enjoy romantic comedy Emma, which comes to Australia straight from the Venice Film Festival, and the based-on-a-true-tale Sicilian Ghost Story, about the disappeared teenage son of a Mafia informant.
There's more where they came from, including Roman ex-cons attempting to start a new life, broad Christmas comedies and topical accounts of ex-terrorists fleeing extradition — and a special guest and a new initiative. This year's festival will welcome Australian-Italian actor Greta Scacchi, who'll attend screenings of her latest effort Tenderness, and sit on IFF's first jury. The Looking for Alibrandi star will help pick the festival's best from a six-film competition, with help from The Space Between's Ruth Borgobello, actor Daniela Farinacci, actor Damian Walshe-Howling and Radio National's Jason di Rosso.