Italy on the Big Screen

When I can’t escape to Italy, I like to escape for a couple of hours into an Italian film. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s an America-made film set in Italy (“Roman Holiday,” anyone?) or an Italian-made movie set during World War II (“Life is Beautiful,” perhaps?). It’s the ability to escape into my favorite other world of Italy that does the trick. (An added bonus with Italian-made films is that I can practice my language skills – if I don’t peek too often at the subtitles.)

 The colors of the Italian flag shine on the stage during this week's Italian Film Festival in Albuquerque.

The colors of the Italian flag shine on the stage during this week's Italian Film Festival in Albuquerque.

In Albuquerque, we are extremely fortunate because every year we have the Italian Film Festival, put on by the Italian Festivals of New Mexico. The festival is a weeklong celebration of Italian film, but also includes music, food and friendship. Even better is the fact that the festival raises money for a local nonprofit organization.

 "Noi e la "Giulia" had people in stitches.

"Noi e la "Giulia" had people in stitches.

The first film I took in during this year’s festival was “Noi e la Giulia,” a film written, directed and acted by Edoardo Leo. This comedy in which three hapless strangers decide to buy a dilapidated property in the Italian countryside and open an agriturismo had theater-goers roaring with laughter. Few aspects of Italian culture are left unskewered in “Noi e la Gulia” Everything from organized crime and inefficient bureaucracy, to family and politics are part of the absurdly funny plot that also includes heartwarming moments as the three protagonists try to build new lives. And the “Guilia” in the title? That character is also typically Italian – an Alfa Romeo Giulia.

A couple of the film festival’s screenings include preludes of food, wine and music performed by Italians who now make their home in New Mexico, including an Italian Elvis, who leaves his audience “all shook up.” The week’s finale is a post-film dinner at a superb local restaurant accompanied by live opera. This annual festival is a fun way to stay connected to the Italian community here in Albuquerque and is also great preparation for my upcoming trip to Italy.  Ci vediamo al cinema!                                               -post by JG