Nelson Mail movie reviewer Dave Manning previews the 17th Italian Film Festival, which starts screening in Nelson next week:
Just as pasta is one of the most popular food staples, Italian movies are favourite foreign-language films.
In New Zealand, the Italian Film Festival is the most successful cultural film festival in the national entertainment calendar, says its director Tony Lambert.
Indeed, it's equal to all other cultural film festivals combined, he says.
The 17th Italian Film Festival, starting in Nelson next week, has "a mouth-watering group covering many genres".
Just as pasta comes in many forms, so do Italian films - with this year's festival including comedy, romantic comedy, drama, documentaries and an Oscar-winning delight.
Twenty films screen over a two-week period, with the comedy Welcome to the South, a remake of the French hit Welcome to the Sticks, chosen as the gala opening night offering next Wednesday.
The other comedies to screen are: A Family on the Verge, an update of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and The Passion, a lighthearted tale about inspiration as a washed-up director is blackmailed into staging a Tuscan village's Passion play; and Whatsoeverly, a satire about the moral bankruptcy of politics.
Fans of romantic comedy have five choices:
The Immature: A breezy, feelgood ensemble comedy about a group of friends getting back together after 20 years. Manual of Love 3 - Ages of Love This third instalment has three stories illustrating the three ages of man (youth, maturity and beyond), all connected by a taxi-driving Cupid. The cast includes Robert De Niro and Monica Belluci.
Escort in Love: This tale about a woman who, out of a desperate need for money, becomes a callgirl, is a frothy mix of over-the-top comedy, romantic sentimentality and a dash of social commentary. The Woman of My Dreams: A witty "amorality tale" about the little lies people tell to get what they want has a young man bringing the woman of his dreams home to meet the family, only to find she has apparently met his playboy brother before.
Basilicata Coast to Coast: A road movie with heart and soul that is a buddy movie-musical and a lyrical, subtle, loving tribute to a little known part of Italy.
If drama is your movie pasta dish, this year's festival has several selections. A Second Childhood is Pupi Avati's moving love story and a thoughtful, melancholy study of Alzheimer's.
18 Years Later is a warmhearted road movie that shifts gears between drama and comedy as two estranged brothers drive across the Italian countryside.
Martino's Summer is a romantic drama about a 15-year-old boy's summer of discovery as he learns about surfing, girls and growing up. The Jewel is a conspiracy thriller dramatising a story of gross corporate incompetence, desperate political manoeuvring and fraud.
The Thin Match Man is an enchanting modern-day fairytale about what can be achieved through the wonders of a child's imagination.
20 Cigarettes is a gripping story that offers a different take on the war in Iraq than American movies.
The First Assignment tells of a young teacher posted to a provincial town in the 1950s where she struggles to connect with the children and misses her aristocratic boyfriend.
Another World is a warmhearted story about geographic and personal journeys as a wealthy young man leaves his slacker lifestyle in Rome to visit his estranged and dying father in Nairobi.
This year's festival features two documentaries: Six Venice, a study of Venice to find out what it is that makes a city, and Italy: Love It or Leave It?, in which two young Italians journey across Italy to decide whether to join the exodus of people leaving the country or discover good reasons to stay.
The festival's classic Italian film is the 1990 Italian comedic drama Cinema Paradiso, which won the Oscar for best foreign-language film. Giuseppe Tornatore's film offers a nostalgic look at cinema and its effect on a young boy and is a celebration of youth, friendship and the magic of movies.
- The 17th Italian Film Festival screens at the Suter Theatre. Programmes from the Suter or State Cinema or online at italianfilmfestival.co.nz.
- © Fairfax NZ News