Open Roads: New Italian Cinema Announces 2014 Lineup

The Film Society of Lincoln Center has announced the lineup for Open Roads: New Italian Cinema, which will take place from June 5-12, 2014. Open Roads has served as the leading North American showcase of contemporary Italian cinema for the past 13 years. This exceptionally strong and diverse edition 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.

This year’s festival highlights the emergence of exciting works by many documentarians, and explores hybrid combinations of documentaries and fiction, with more than a third of the films focused on the medium with rich and fascinating results. Top prizewinners include Gianfranco Rosi’s Sacro GRA, the first documentary to win the Golden Lion for Best Film at the Venice Film Festival, which explores Rome’s 43.5-mile highway Grande Raccordo Anulare that encircles the city by focusing on absorbing, moving individual portraits that emerge from the areas drivers pass through but never see, to reveal a different side of the bustling city’s inhabitants. Alberto Fasulo’s docudrama debut Tir won the top prize at the Rome Film Festival and follows a former teacher from Bosnia who takes a job driving a tractor trailer (“tir”) through Europe. Combining professional actors and real truck drivers, Fasulo has created a striking film about what life is really like on the road—one that simulates a documentary.

Several films in this year’s lineup explore the evolution of Italy’s political transformation. including the opening-night selection, Daniele Luchetti’s Those Happy Years, a charming, coming-of-age autobiographical tale of the director’s childhood as a budding filmmaker growing up in Rome in the 1970s during a radical, transformative period in Italy. Giovanni Veronesi’s The Fifth Wheel is a humorous tale that takes audiences on a journey of a half-century of pivotal political events through the eyes of actor and screenwriter Ernesto Fioretti.

those-happy-years-006Opening Night
U.S. Premiere
Those Happy Years (Anni felici)
Daniele Luchetti, Italy, 2013, DCP, 100m
Italian with English subtitles|
Luchetti’s warm-hearted, bittersweet autobiographical account of his childhood as a budding filmmaker growing up in Rome in the ’70s stars Kim Rossi Stuart and Micaela Ramazotti as unconventional parents caught up in turbulent times. He’s an avant-garde artist and she’s wrestling with gender roles as she discovers feminism and free love. Luchetti (My Brother Is an Only Child) brilliantly re-creates the atmosphere of urgency and rapid change surrounding the family. He also poignantly conveys his own coming-of-age perspective, that of a boy grappling with radical transformations inside his family and on the street, capturing it all with his brand-new Super-8 camera.
Thursday, June 5, 1:00pm (Q&A with Daniele Luchetti)
Thursday, June 5, 6:30pm (Q&A with Daniele Luchetti)

U.S. Premiere
The Administrator (L’amministratore)
Vincenzo Marra, Italy, 2013, 83m
Italian with English subtitles
In the lively and absorbing fifth installment in a series of docs celebrating his native Naples, Marra turns a spotlight on the life of Umberto Montella, a building administrator whose job seems to demand skills in management as much as in therapy. An effortless arbiter of the passionate conflicts that arise among tenants, the Quixotic Montella leads us in and out of the homes of his larger-than-life clients, rich and poor Neapolitans whose lives illuminate the city’s volatile moods. Sometimes funny and always poignant, these profoundly human stories flow in and out of one another following a natural rhythm. However specific the tales, characters, and places, the immersion into these entangled lives is also a tough-minded yet affectionate look at an Italy mired in crisis.
Monday, June 9, 6:30pm 
Tuesday, June 10, 1:30pm

the-fifth-wheelU.S. Premiere
The Fifth Wheel (L’ultima ruota del carro)
Giovanni Veronesi, Italy, 2013, DCP, 113m
Italian with English subtitles
Veronesi’s irresistible romantic comedy takes a journey through pivotal events in four decades of recent Italian history, as seen through the lens of Ernesto Fioretti’s unexceptional life. Played with charm and a disarming sense of humor by Elio Germano, Ernesto is a good-hearted, honest middle-class guy who struggles to keep up with changes and is always a step behind. His father disparaged Ernesto by likening him to the “fifth wheel of the wagon,” and his aspirations and involvement through the rise and fall of Socialism and the Berlusconi era are accordingly modest. But his protagonist’s apparent simplicity is precisely one of the strengths of this Tuscan director’s fifteenth feature, which opened the Rome Film Festival last year to great acclaim. Rich in emotions, its ups and downs coinciding with those of the country, Ernesto’s life serves as the perfect platform for abundant laughter and tears.
Friday, June 6, 6:30pm (Q&A with Giovanni Veronesi)
Wednesday, June 11, 1:00pm (Q&A with Giovanni Veronesi)

Happy to Be Different (Felice chi è diverso)
Gianni Amelio, Italy, 2014, 93m
In Italian with English subtitles
A moving and enlightening work of oral history, Gianni Amelio’s new documentary is a chronicle of gay life in Italy from the fall of Fascism through the early 1980s. Amelio combines interviews with a wide range of older gay Italian men (including Pasolini muse Ninetto Davoli), newsreel footage, and clips from “educational” films warning against homosexuality, and in the process reveals a profound gap between the subjects’ firsthand experiences and the Italian media’s representations of them. The resulting film is a deeply personal account of the advent of gay culture amid the ruins of Mussolini’s Italy and the eternally poignant story of how persecuted individuals developed pragmatic ways to attain everyday happiness.
Tuesday, June 10, 9:00pm
Wednesday, June 11, 4:00pm 

the-human-facorU.S. Premiere
The Human Factor (La variabile umana)
Bruno Oliviero, Italy, 2013, DCP, 82m
Italian with English subtitles
Matters get very complicated for chief inspector Monaco (Silvio Orlando) after the murder of a high-profile member of Milan’s seedy nightlife. He is a widower with a teenage daughter, and, one night, all his neglected personal issues seem to catch up with him, forcing him out of the slump he’s been in since the death of his wife. Rendered darkly beautiful as a noir setting, Milan is the electric backdrop for this detective story that delves as much into the intimate life of one man and his daughter as into this elegant city’s underworlds. In his fiction debut, Olivierio’s extensive documentary experience is palpable in his portrait of Milan—a character in itself—as well as in the vivid and telling details with which he characterize its inhabitants.
Thursday, June 5, 4:00pm 
Friday, June 6, 9:30pm 

U.S. Premiere
I Can Quit Whenever I Want (Smetto quando voglio)
Sydney Sibilia, Italy, 2014, 100m
Italian with English subtitles
A band of brilliant unemployed and underemployed academics—two Latinists, a chemist, a neurobiologist, an anthropologist, and an economist—turn to a life of crime in order to survive. Deftly assimilating such influences as Breaking Bad and Trainspotting, this biting parody on the plight of the Italian middle class in the aftermath of the economic crisis boasts a fast pace, witty dialogue, and a terrific cast. A debut to watch from Salerno-native Sibilia, the film was a resounding commercial and critical hit when released in Italy earlier this year.
Friday, June 6, 3:30pm (Q&A with actress Valeria Solarino)
Sunday, June 8, 9:00pm (Q&A with actress Valeria Solarino)

Lintrepido_5AntonioAlbaneseeLiviaRossiClaudioIannoneU.S. Premiere
A Lonely Hero (L’intrepido)
Gianni Amelio, Italy, 2013, DCP, 104m
Italian with English Subtitles
Amelio follows his 2011 Camus adaptation, The First Man, with a deadpan parable about a small everyday hero from Milan who contends with the unemployment crisis in a very particular way: he’s a “professional” substitute worker, skilled and knowledgeable enough to replace anyone in any job. True to his name, Antonio Pane is as good and essential as bread. Whether working as a train conductor, fishmonger, tailor, street sweeper, or bricklayer, he approaches the country’s instability with a deep moral consistency as he reinvents himself everyday. Amelio wrote this film especially for actor Antonio Albanese, who personifies the film’s dark humor and underlying sense of hope. An Emerging Pictures release.
Monday, June 5, 9:15pm
Tuesday, June 10, 6:30pm 

U.S. Premiere
Long Live Freedom (Viva la libertà)
Roberto Andò, Italy, 2013, DCP, 93m
Italian with English Subtitles
Enrico Oliveri (a brilliant Toni Servillo) is a seasoned center-left politician and president of the opposition who realizes that the decline of his party is inevitable. As the polls announce he will lose dramatically in the upcoming elections, he falls into a profound existential crisis and disappears. We later learn that he has fled to Paris and is hiding out at the home of his ex-girlfriend Danielle (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi). While his colleagues panic, his top aide (Valerio Mastandrea) discovers that Enrico has a twin brother living in a psychiatric institution. What at first seems like a crazy plan soon proves to be their only solution. A scathing critique of Italian political dynamics, Andò’s film is also a pulsating thriller with great comic moments that brings together some of the most talented actors working in Italy today.
Friday, June 6, 1:00pm (Q&A with Roberto Andò)
Saturday, June 7, 9:00pm (Q&A with Roberto Andò)

La-mafia-uccide-solo-destateU.S. Premiere
The Mafia Only Kills in Summer (La mafia uccide solo d’estate)
Pierfrancesco Diliberto, Italy, 2013, DCP, 89m
Italian with English subtitles  
Pierfrancesco Diliberto (a renowned TV host and political comedian, better known as Pif) wrote, directed, and stars in this subversive, irreverent feature debut about Arturo, a young boy whose obsession with the Mafia’s casual presence in his city surpasses even his passion for Flora, the beautiful schoolmate who remains his main love interest until adulthood. Pif uses Arturo’s unrequited love story as the vehicle to narrate the most tragic events in Italy’s recent history, starting with the Cosa Nostra’s criminal actions in Sicily in the ’70s, which soon spread through the country (encompassing the barbaric murder of judges Falcone and Borsellino, an event that Pif handles with astounding boldness). Winner of the Audience Award at the Torino Film Festival, Mafia is a brave and intelligent dark comedy with a powerful message.
Saturday, June 7, 3:30pm (Q&A with Pierfrancesco Diliberto aka Pif)
Thursday, June 12, 4:00pm (Q&A with Pierfrancesco Diliberto aka Pif)

Quiet Bliss (In grazia di Dio)
Edoardo Winspeare, Italy, 2014, 127m
In Italian with English subtitles
Three generations of women seek refuge in their family’s Salento olive grove after their small textile business collapses in Winspeare’s warm and vibrant drama. Against the backdrop of a radiant southern Italian landscape, Winspeare’s characters—serene Salvatrice (Anna Boccadamo), hardened Adele (Celeste Casciaro), loudmouthed Ina (Laura Licchetta), and aspiring thespian Maria Conchetta (Barbara De Matteis)—revive their lives in the wake of economic catastrophe. Turning to a back-to-basics existence as a means of healing the wounds wrought by the recession, they undergo transformations that the director renders with equal parts pathos, insight, and humor.
Saturday, June 7, 6:00pm (Q&A with Edoardo Winspeare)
Monday, June 9, 1:00pm (Q&A with Edoardo Winspeare)

the_referee_l_arbitroU.S. Premiere
The Referee (L’arbitro)
Paolo Zucca, Italy/Argentina, 2013, 96m
Italian with English subtitles
Sardinian third-league soccer team Atletico Pabarile is suddenly winning every match of the season, after years of losing consistently to Montecrastu, the team led by cocky and abusive landowner Brai. The return of soccer wizard Matzutzi from a sojourn in Argentina has turned the team of farmers into unexpected champions—and now it feels like anything is possible. Enter Cruciani (a great Stefano Accorsi), a young referee greedily climbing his way to the top, and two cousins playing for Montecrastu who are involved in an escalating conflict about archaic sheep-breeding codes in Sardinia. These disparate plots come together explosively in the lush black-and-white world of Zucca’s slyly funny and utterly distinctive first feature.
Tuesday, June 10, 4:00pm 
Wednesday, June 11, 9:00pm 

U.S. Premiere
Sacro GRA
Gianfranco Rosi, Italy/France, 2013, DCP, 93m
Italian with English subtitles
The first documentary to win the Golden Lion for Best Film at the Venice Film Festival, the latest from Gianfranco Rosi (El Sicario, Room 164 and Below Sea Level), reveals the sheer diversity of life bubbling around the margins of Rome’s Grande Raccordo Anulare, the 43.5-mile highway that encircles the city, the longest in all of Italy. The absorbing and often moving individual portraits that emerge—an ambulance driver caring for his ailing mother, a scientist studying palm trees ravaged by beetles, an eel fisherman nostalgic for old traditions—give visibility and a human face to the places Sacro GRA drivers pass through but never see, while exposing the city’s striking contradictions. Inspired in part by Italo Calvino’s novel Invisible Cities, Rosi’s captivating chorale plunges the viewer into this paradoxical reality, allowing us a more direct, even sensorial experience of life in the shadow of progress.
Sunday, June 8, 6:30pm Q&A with Gianfranco Rosi)
Monday, June 9, 4:00pm (Q&A with Gianfranco Rosi)

small-homelandU.S. Premiere
Small Homeland (Piccola Patria)
Alessandro Rossetto, Italy, 2013, DCP, 111m
Italian with English subtitles
Best friends Luisa and Renata long above all else to leave their stifling provincial town in northeastern Italy, where tensions between locals and immigrants are forever threatening to boil over. They work as maids in a hotel but supplement their income with sexual trysts, sometimes assisted by Luisa’s Albanian boyfriend, and hatch a blackmail scheme that fails to play out as expected. The rhythms of daily life in this border zone—where city meets countryside—are captured in vivid detail in the highly promising fiction debut by Rossetto, an experienced documentarian working mainly with nonprofessional actors.
Sunday, June 8, 3:30pm  (Q&A with Alessandro Rossetto)
Thursday, June 12, 8:45pm

U.S. Premiere
South Is Nothing (Il Sud e niente)
Fabio Mollo, Italy, 2013, DCP, 86m
Italian with English subtitles
Grazia was 12 years old when she was told by her widower father that her beloved older brother Pietro had died, and never spoken a word since. Now a tomboyish 18, after one of her regular arguments with her father, Grazia flees to the seaside and into the water, where she has an otherworldly experience and thinks she sees her brother. Thus begins her quest to discover another truth, not only about her lost sibling but also about herself. This poised and striking debut by the young Mollo, who shot this film in the Reggio Calabria village where he grew up, features a remarkable central performance by the young Miriam Karlkvist.
Sunday, June 8, 1:00pm
Monday, June 9, 9:00pm 

ViaCastellanaBandiera_2U.S. Premiere
A Street in Palermo (Via Castellana Bandiera)
Emma Dante, Italy, 2013, DCP, 92m
Italian with English subtitles
Based on her own novel, Emma Dante’s first feature is set in Palermo and shot almost entirely in a narrow alleyway in a run-down neighborhood. On a hot Sunday afternoon, three women are caught in what turns out to be a tragic confrontation. Rosa (Dante) and her partner, Clara (Alba Rohrwacher), have just driven in from Milan and are on their way to a friend’s wedding. As they turn onto Via Castellana Bandiera, they find the Calafiore family jammed into a car driven by Samira (Elena Cotta), a mule-headed Sicilian of Albanian descent. Both drivers stubbornly refuse to back up, as tensions escalate and the neighborhood looks on. An accomplished theater director, Dante includes some knowing nods to spaghetti Westerns and genre conventions in her ambitious film debut, and coaxes formidable performances from her skilled cast (Cotta won the Best Actress Award at the Venice Film Festival).
Wednesday, June 11, 6:30pm
Thursday, June 12, 1:30pm

U.S. Premiere
Alberto Fasulo, Italy/Croatia, 2013, 83m
Italian with English Subtitles
The first Italian film to win the top prize at the Rome Film Festival, Fasulo’s striking fiction debut follows Branko (played by Branko Zavrsan, from the Oscar-winning No Man’s Land), a former teacher from Bosnia who takes a job driving a tractor trailer (“tir”) through Europe. A native of Friuli with a documentary background, Fasulo immerses the viewer in the experience of the trucker on the road—the sounds, the landscape, and the longing for company (Branko’s phone conversations with his wife are particularly poignant). Part of a growing movement of Italian filmmakers exploring hybrid combinations of documentary and fiction, Fasulo uses both professional actors and real truck drivers, and his approach yields both an intimate connection to his characters and an evocative sense of place.
Saturday, June 7, 1:00pm 
Thursday, June 12, 6:30pm (Q&A with Alberto Fasulo)

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