“Passione. Musica. Violenza. Vita.” These four words flashed on the screen amidst clips of fighting, dancing, kissing and beautiful Italian scenery. And so started a weekend full of Italian theatre. This past weekend, the eighth annual Nuovo Cinema Italiano Film Festival took place in the Sottile Theatre in full force. The College of Charleston is one of the main sponsors of the festival that occurs in Charleston every year.
In the lobby there was a substantial art auction showing Italian landscapes and food. CofC student volunteers sat at the welcome table giving tickets and programs. Kristina Moss, a freshman at CofC, volunteered to help out with the film festival as an usher because of her Italian heritage and “because I’ve been to a few italian film festivals and they’re always really fun.”
The festival’s self-proclaimed mission is to “showcase the best in contemporary Italian cinema, giving filmmakers an opportunity to shine and audiences a chance to see past the familiar sites and into the heart of Italy.” Artistic Director of the festival, Giovanna De Luca, claims that the interest in Italian films and the festival in general is growing each year. Ryan Tully, a junior at CofC and Film Studies minor, came to the festival because he has always been interested in film and film that’s done in other countries. “Italy has a strong film tradition and it’s interesting to see what’s going on in contemporary film.”
This year, the festival showcased 12 new films, and among them was “The South is Nothing,” directed by Fabio Mollo. Mollo, who chuckled while mentioning the low budget he had to make the film, has already received impressive accolades from film festivals all over, including Rome, Toronto and San Francisco. Mollo spoke about growing up in Southern Italy and how he used his past to create a film that was demonstrative of the presence of the mafia and how that presence creates a silence among the public.
In Mollo’s film, the protagonist, a young girl named Grazia, avidly attempts to find out what happened to her brother who up and disappeared. While the movie has undertones of the Mafia culture in Italy, Mollo tends more toward calling it a “coming of age film set in a Mafia environment.” As the credits rolled at the dramatic culmination of the film, the audience exploded with applause, some even yelling “Bravo!” in true Italian form. Like many other films of the festival, “The South is Nothing” was well received.
“The cinematography was beautiful,” Tully said. “It was a beautifully shot film; the narrative structure was compelling.” Some of the films’ directors were in town for the festival and held Q&A’s with the audience members after the showings. The enchanting and authentic Italian accents reverberated around the theatre as film geeks pulled apart the layers and motifs of the films. The eighth annual Nuovo Cinema Italiano festival closed with its warm Italian flair by saying, “Grazi tutti, buona sera.”