The festival is celebrating its fourth anniversary.
To mark its fourth anniversary, the Italian Film festival is hosting the Twin Cities premieres of seven recent Italian features. It's a good opportunity to keep up with a film culture that's vibrant, engaging, but underrepresented theatrically. Martin Scorsese would be proud.
The festival begins at 6 p.m. Friday with a program on the great artist Michelangelo da Caravaggio, the bad-boy genius of 16th-century Italian art. The evening includes a reception, a performance from the Minneapolis baroque ensemble Consortium Carissimi, an art-history discussion led by Italian scholar Prof. Roberta Bartoli, and a display of period costumes from the Guthrie and Children's Theatre Company. At 8 p.m., there will be a screening of Angelo Longoni's 2007 feature film "Caravaggio." The artist's defiant temperament, low companions and revolutionary technique make him an agreeably scandalous subject for biographical drama. The film's cinematographer is the fabled Vittorio Storaro, a three-time Oscar winner for "Apocalypse Now," "Reds" and "The Last Emperor."
Saturday at 6 p.m., award-winning director Giovanna Taviani will be on hand to present her documentary "Return to the Aeolian Islands," starkly beautiful volcanic outcroppings off the coast of Sicily. Taviani, a film scholar, critic and film-festival director, grew up in the world of cinema: Her father and uncle are Italy's most celebrated living filmmakers. The film interweaves tales of emigration and exile in the Mediterranean melting pot, the history of Italian cinema and snapshots of real life. Taviani will also conduct a master class on filmmaking at noon on Sunday.
Other films in the weekend festival explore subjects ranging from love to war, immigration to gay rights, economics to the Mafia. Highlights include:
"A Quiet Life," a crime thriller about a troubled family man desperately trying to protect himself and his family from a past he can't escape (3 p.m. Saturday).
"Loose Cannons," a comedy-drama in the style of Almodovar, charting the fallout in a traditional Southern Italian family when the youngest son decides to tell his parents the truth about his sexual orientation (8:20 p.m. Saturday).
"Into Paradiso," the story of an offbeat friendship between a wide-eyed Sri Lankan immigrant to Naples and a grouchy biology professor fired by his university (4:15 p.m. Sunday).
"20 Cigarettes," a drama concerning a film crew member documenting the Italian army's mission in Iraq during a period of terrorist attacks (7:15 p.m. Sunday).