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16° & CLOUDY ON MONDAY 16 SEPTEMBER IN SYDNEY
Sydney
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 Sydney. 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 Sydney

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 Bondi, saucy lasagne in Surry Hills, a cannolo in Kogarah or tiramisu in Paddington, there’s plenty to tempt your Italian-loving tastebuds, all without leaving Sydney.

Cafes

1. Bel & Brio

Barangaroo's 800-square-metre European-style food emporium.

2. Green Moustache

A foliage-filled all-day restaurant and bar in North Sydney.

3. Barbetta

Drop in for cannoli pancakes, a porchetta panini or a pasta making class.

4. Pino's Dolce Vita

This Italian institution has returned to Kogarah with 100 handmade Italian sausages, cheeses and cannoli.

5. Son of Frank

An experimental Italian cafe with a bottomless brunch that can't be beat.

Casual Eateries

1. Totti's

An Italian eatery helmed by Pinbone's Mike Eggert and Rockpool's Khan Danis and located inside the Royal Bondi.

2. Bar Reggio

This long-running Italian restaurant has all the right ingredients for your next group get-togethers.

3. KINDRED Restaurant

A cosy trattoria serving top-notch pasta made from scratch in-house. And there's a whole slew of vego options.

4. La Coppola

Authentic, Sicilian-style pizzeria in the heart of Redfern.

5. Moretti Ristorante Pizzeria

After 17 years on Leichhardt's Norton Street, this authentic pizzeria is still at the top of Sydney's Italian game.

Fine Diners

1. Don Peppino's

This Italian restaurant in a former Oxford Street nightclub is here for a good time (not a long time).

2. 10 William Street

This lively Paddington stalwart has a new star chef at its helm.

3. Alberto Lounge

A 70s-inspired Italian enoteca from the Restaurant Hubert crew.

4. Bistecca

An underground CBD restaurant specialising in one cut of steak.

5. Marta Osteria

A Roman osteria and bar from the team behind Popolo.

A Little Italy in Sydney

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 Bondi, saucy lasagne in Surry Hills, a cannolo in Kogarah or tiramisu in Paddington, there’s plenty to tempt your Italian-loving tastebuds, all without leaving Sydney.

CP Picks

Where to find Sydney's best Italian food.

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