Preview: Open Roads: New Italian Cinema At FSLC

Featured Critic; Brooklyn, New York (@floatingartist)
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When we think of Italian cinema, we think of undisputed old masters - Fellini, Visconti, Rossellini, Antonioni, De Sica, Bertolucci and so on. But for the longest time, Italian cinema had fallen out of favor. Sure, there have been flourish of genre films in the 60s - 80s. But the Italian public's national pride and interests in their film industry subsided. Even the locals pffffttted away my inquiries about current Italian cinema when I was attending an art festival in Ravenna, in 2005. Back then, they were all about Kim Ki-Duk and Asian cinema.

But after the rampant political corruption and the infamous "boom boom" era of Berlusconi came to a close, and regional support for the arts growing, it seems Italian cinema is finally finding its footing again. And with the international success of Mateo Garrone's Gomorrah and Reality, Paolo Sorrentino's The Great Beauty winning the Best Foreign Language Oscar last year and Alice Rohrwacher's The Wonders (Le Meraviglie) just winning the Grand Prix at the Cannes this year, we are indeed witnessing the resurgence of Italian cinema.

For this year's New Italian Cinema series, Film Society of Lincoln Center presents exceptionally strong and diverse edition which includes the latest work from established veterans (Gianni Amelio, Roberto Andò, Daniele Luchetti) and top award winners, alongside promising new talents from both the commercial and independent spheres, with in-person appearances at many screenings. The series runs June 5 - 12. For more tickets and more info, please visit FSLC website.

Those Happy Years (dir. Daniele Luchetti) *Opening Night Film

Daniele Luchetti (My Brother is an Only Child, La Nostra Vita), one of the staple names in current Italian cinema, presents a deeply affecting family drama based on his childhood- growing up in socially tumultuous 70's Italy.

Told in grown up Dario (Samuel Garofalo)'s voice, the film chronicles ups and downs of a couple- Guido (Kim Rossi Stuart), a conceptual artist and his slowly blossoming wife Serena (Micaela Ramazzoti) and their two young sons. A son of an artist and an overly critical mother, Guido is swept up in 'being an artist', surrounded by naked models and dreaming of that big break. He and jealous Serena always fight about his infidelity in front of kids. She doesn't understand why she and kids can't visit him at the studio and he protests that as an artist, he needs space.

The big break comes along and Guido has a naked body painting performance in Milan. Serena shows up with kids and Guido barks at her. She then takes off with her friend Helke (Martina Gedeck) to France in a feminist retreat with kids in tow. For many Italian women, it's the time of self-realization and free love. She hooks up with Helke and everything is being documented by Dario, the budding filmmaker with his super-8 camera. In the meantime, Guido's Milan show flops.

Those Happy Years is a delicate, detailed period piece that's intimate and inviting with affecting performances by everyone involved. It might be reflecting specific time and place, but also shows struggles of being an artist and the process of creating something worthwhile which often is linked to life experiences.

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