Is there anything more Italian then sipping a cappuccino by the Fontana di Trevi? The Sottile Theater gave Rome a run for its money last weekend, debuting the seventh annual Italian Film Festival. Amidst the fashionable women and constant air gestures, Charleston was barely recognizable.
The overwhelming feeling of the night was a thirst for Italy; the romance and exotic flavor it offers to Charlestonians who may not have had the opportunity to travel there themselves. It is for this reason that professor DeLuca works tirelessly every year to make this festival happen. She said, “it is important [for students] to be exposed to different cultures through cinema, which is the most immediate and easy way. Visual culture is now the culture of young people.”
Students and faculty from the college attended the opening night reception of the festival at the Sottile Theater. Annie Higgins, an Arabic professor at CofC, looked ready to camp out in front of the theater for the entire weekend. When asked what was so special about Italian film, Annie Higgins said, “Italians have style, they’re not afraid of emotion, they don’t hold back. They draw you in and they are beautiful at the same time.” This excitement was felt all around, and the air was buzzing with an Italian drawl.
Charleston may not seem like the ideal venue for an international film festival, but our city may be more intimately linked with Italian art than we might realize. The Italian connection in Charleston stems from the annual Spoleto Festival. Through both of these events, the Italian community in Charleston is able to share its culture with the rest of the city. Little by little, Charleston is being exposed to Italian culture, a process professor DeLuca believes is essential in a college town. Every year the Festival has grown, making its way to the Sottile Theater this year. The directors seemed to think that it was specifically the tight-knit community feeling that makes Charleston an interesting place to hold a film festival. Clearly taken with the city, the film directors were just as excited to explore the city as they were to present their films.
While the community here may seem to be getting all the benefits from this event, the directors’ enthusiasm to experience Charleston challenges this. This festival has become a sort of cultural bridge in many ways. There is a definitive cultural exchange that not many other cities in America could provide to such a historically rich society as Italy. After being here only one day, Luca Ragazzi, noticed how culturally and historically significant Charleston is as a city. The successful combination of the cultures of Charleston, Italy, and abroad at the Italian Film Festival could bring an arguably much needed exchange between Charleston and the rest of the world. So to naysayers that say Charleston isn’t one of the best cities in the world; the Italians said, “Charleston is a gem.” And If the Italians said it, you know it must be true.