The annual St Ali Italian Film Festival is back this spring, shining a spotlight on the best and brightest of Italy’s cinema. Not only is it a platform for films we might otherwise miss out on, it’s a chance to revisit classics and a big screen celebration of all things Italian.

Palace Film’s Elysia Zeccola has been working on the Italian Film Festival since its inception. As the festival’s director, it’s her job to curate the best of Italian film to present to Australian audiences. We asked Zeccola for five films at the Festival she’s looking forward to.

Three Floors (Tre piani)
The latest from legendary director Nanni Moretti (Mia Madre, The Son's Room), comes to the Festival fresh from competition at Cannes. Featuring a tremendous ensemble cast, it traces the disparate lives of three families who reside in the same apartment block in Rome's stylish Prati neighbourhood. Across the years they struggle with sorrow, regret, and mistakes, creating a sweeping picture of heartbreak and family conflict.

The Ties (Lacci)
The Opening night film at the Venice Film Festival in 2020, Daniele Luchetti's stylish marriage-in-crisis drama set in Naples and Rome features an all-star cast including Alba Rohrwacher, Luigi Lo Cascio and Giovanna Mezzogiorno. Covering forty years of a troubled relationship, it’s a look at love, loyalty, and the ties (at times literal – the Italian title means “shoelaces”) that bind parents to each other and their children.

To Chiara (A Chiara)
Direct from Cannes 2021 where it won Best European Film (Director’s Fortnight), this tells the gripping story of a 15-year-old girl from Calabria, whose family life starts to unravel when she discovers her beloved father may have criminal ties. Featuring a non-professional cast and innovative sound design, its themes of female agency and empowerment spin a new perspective on a traditional story. Not screening at IFF WA. Premieres in WA as part of the 2022 Perth Festival.

Padrenostro (Padrenostro) presented by MIFF
A 10-year-old boy witnesses an assassination attempt on his father (Pierfrancesco Favino in the role that earned him the Best Actor award at the Venice Film Festival) in Claudio Noce’s personal drama, inspired by his own family trauma. Through focusing on the child’s point of view, the film avoids many of the genre traps common to this kind of story (Favino’s real-life father was a judge targeted by the Mafia), creating an inspired, fantastical take on a personal coming of age.

Rome, Open City (Roma, città aperta)
Presented in a new 4K digital restoration (and screening at the iconic Astor Cinema in Melbourne), Rossellini’s remarkable drama Rome, Open City, is a towering and powerfully resonant cinematic achievement. Conceived and directed amid the ruin of World War II in Rome, with immediacy in every frame and gripping performances from Aldo Fabrizi and Anna Magnani in her breakthrough role, it follows the resistance leader Giorgio Manfredi, who is chased by the Nazis as he seeks refuge and a way to escape.

The 2021 St Ali Italian Film Festival opens nationally this spring. See the full program and ticketing details in your city.

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