Italian Film Festival

Film Archive

We’ve featured many films in the past. Peruse a list of films we’ve featured below.

Legend of the Holy Drinker / La leggenda del santo bevitore

Info: Italy, 1988, 127 mins, DCP

Language: Italian with English Subtitles

Director: Ermanno Olmi

Cast: Rutger Hauer, Anthony Quayle, Sandrine Dumas, Dominique Pinon


  • Sunday January 5, 2020 - 3:00 pm

A distinguished man, dressed in a suit and tophat, wanders down to a seaside walkway where Andreas (Rutger Hauer), homeless and hungover, is awakening with the rising sun. The gentleman offers him a proposition: he will hand him 200 Francs, available for any use Andreas sees fit, on the one condition that he returns the same sum to the Church if or whenever he is able. So begins Ermanno Olmi’s 1988 Golden Lion-winning classic: with a miracle.

Best known for portraits of working class life like Il Posto and The Tree of Wooden Clogs, Olmi here trades in his trademark neo-realist style for a more whimsical one, following Andreas through a Parisian odyssey of ever-more-fantastic events. Recently restored in the wake of Olmi’s death in 2018 (Hauer also passed away this year), The Legend of the Holy Drinker has rightfully gone down as one of the master’s least typical and yet most astonishing films.

Winner of the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival

The Fifth Cord / Giornata nera per l’Ariete

Info: Italy, 1971, 92 mins, DCP

Language: Italian with English Subtitles

Director: Luigi Bazzoni

Cast: Franco Nero


  • Saturday January 4, 2020 - 9:15 pm

The second in our mini series of classic giallo is the most obscure, but also perhaps the revelation of the trio: wtih stunning cinematography by Vittorio Storaro (hot off his work on Bertolucci’s The Conformist), and a typically assertive score by maestro Ennio Morricone, you can be sure that The Fifth Cord competes with Mario Bava’s Blood and Black Lace and Dario Argento’s Tenebrae as a sumptuous aesthetic experience.

When a man barely survives a brutal assault en route home from a New Year’s party, washed-up, whisky-swilling journalist Franco Nero (Django) is assigned to the case. Before long, the maniac strikes again, this time with fatal results. As the body count rises, Nero is under suspicion himself, making it even more imperative that he crack the case. His only clue: black gloves found at the location of every attack, each with a finger cut off…

The success of Argento’s The Bird With the Crystal Plumage ushered in a wave of new, modern takes on the giallo thriller. Some rose above the crowd thanks to skillful execution and stylistic experimentation. Case in point: The Fifth Cord, which, in the hands of director Luigi Bazzoni (Le Orme, The Possessed), turns a conventional premise into a visually stunning exploration of alienation and isolation.

Our mini Gialli series also includes Blood and Black Lace (Friday and Wednesday), and Tenebrae (Sunday).

The Traitor / Il traditore

Info: Italy, 2019, 145 mins, DCP

Language: Italian with English Subtitles

Director: Marco Bellocchio

Cast: Pierfrancesco Favino, Maria Fernanda Candido, Fabrizio Ferracane, Luigi Lo Cascio, Fausto Russo Alesi, Nicola Calì


  • Saturday January 4, 2020 - 6:10 pm

"Stories based on actual history don’t get much bigger or wilder… Bellocchio has chosen to eschew the dull methods of period drama to shape The Traitor as a big, brash operatic extravaganza. There are eerie macabre dream sequences, flashbacks, and memories, and an ironic use of soundtrack music as outsized punctuation." Barbara Scharres,

Sicilian mob boss turned informant Tommaso Buscetta (Pierfrancesco Favino) gets the GoodFellas treatment here courtesy of veteran filmmaker Marco Bellocchio (Fists in the Pocket), though in truth, Bellocchio is by no means as intoxicated by the mafia life as Scorsese sometimes seemed to be.

“Much of the success of The Traitor relies on the central performance of Favino, who pivots from a cliched, narcissistic “soldier” to a fount of grizzled mirthfulness in his castigation of his previous employers.

Where Bellocchio reaches elements of the sublime is during the courtroom reenactments, with a gaggle of fingered mobsters locked in cages behind the court, howling like animals, spitting expletives (“cuckold” and “ball-less” seem to be favored, along with the devil’s horns and plenty of dick grabbing) as Buscetta wryly addresses their counter accusations.

Periodically, a filmmaker manages to breathe new life into the staple of Italian mafioso cinema, forever shrouded by imprints of Coppola, Scorsese and more contemporary auteurs like Garrone. Bellocchio, as with his 2009 portrait of Mussolini in Vincere, creates another late period masterstroke with The Traitor.” Nicholas Bell, Ion Cinema

Intro and Q&A by Fabio Messineo, Consul General of Italy


Info: Italy, 2019, 84 mins, DCP

Language: Italian, Bengali with English Subtitles

Director: Phaim Bhuiyan

Cast: Phaim Bhuiyan, Carlotta Antonelli, Simone Liberati


  • Saturday January 4, 2020 - 4:15 pm

"An impressive feature debut that offers a multicultural romance with a wonderfully tongue-in-cheek sense of humour. It’s the perfect film for a light, fluffy evening at the cinema with your better half." Charlie David Page, Switch

Phaim Bhuiyan’s debut rom-com has a fresh, left-field energy which is immediately appealing. And while many Italian dramas and documentaries in recent years have tackled the subject of immigration, this is still a relatively rare film from a (second generation) Italian immigrant perspective.

Phaim, who also wrote the screenplay and directs, stars as a twentysomething Bengali Muslim in Rome, an aspiring musician who gets the hots for an Italian girl (Carlotta Antonelli) but isn’t sure how to balance his desires with strict religious orthodoxies around celibacy and abstinence. With its quirky humour, adventurous camerawork and fun music, Bangla was named the Best First Feature at Italy’s Golden Globes Awards earlier this year.

Once Upon a Time in the West / C’era una volta il West

Info: Italy, 1968, 165 mins, DCP

Language: English

Director: Sergio Leone

Cast: Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale, Jason Robards, Gabriele Ferzetti


  • Saturday January 4, 2020 - 1:00 pm
  • Thursday January 9, 2020 - 2:20 pm

"Nobody has made a better Western since. In fact, nobody has made a better Western, period." Kim Newman, Empire

"One of the great films in cinema history." Marjorie Baumgarten, Austin Chronicle

Nobody could make something out of nothing the way that Sergio Leone could. Just look at the first ten minutes of Once Upon a Time in the West: a fistful of tough hombres in ankle-length dusters are waiting for a train at a railway depot out in the middle of nowhere.

Their faces are familiar yet strange: Woody Strode and Jack Elam are veteran Hollywood cowboys, with dozens of movies under their belts. But they have never been filmed like this before, gazed at so long or so longingly. Leone pores over their grizzled skin, in widescreen, yet in microscopic detail. A windmill on top of a leaky wooden water tower has a rusty squeak. A fly buzzes around Jack Elam’s gun. The train is late, or they are early. They wait, and the movie keeps on rolling along.

This was Leone’s fourth western, and fifth film. Each had marked a significant advance on the one before (in this case, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – the culmination of Leone’s wildly successful ‘Dollars Trilogy’). They grew in budget, in scope and scale, in authority, in flamboyance, and in duration.

Once Upon a Time in the West was cut by twenty minutes when it was first released in the US in 1968. In the full version, it clocks in at a hefty 165 minutes – yet the story is relatively simple and the cast of characters is limited to just a handful of speaking parts. The key players are Cheyenne (Jason Robards), an easygoing outlaw who just wants to do his own thing; Harmonica (Charles Bronson), who is on the vengeance trail for the man who killed his brother; Jill McBain (the luscious Claudia Cardinale), a New Orleans whore who has come West to set up a home and arrives to find herself a widow; and Frank (Henry Fonda), a vicious hired gun who works for the railroad barons. These four figures circle each other with a proud but wary distance reminiscent of flamenco dancers, or the bullring… perhaps it’s not coincidental that the so-called ‘spaghetti’ westerns were filmed in Spain.

With story credits for future directors Bernardo Bertolucci and Dario Argento, both young turks at the time, this is a movie drawn from the imaginative pull of other, older films – Bertolucci said they watched nothing but westerns for a month as they prepared the script, and you may pick up bits and pieces from the likes of John Ford’s The Iron Horse and My Darling ClementineHigh Noon, Johnny GuitarShane and The Tall T – all the young Italians’ favourites.

On this patchwork fabric, Leone embroiders a quizzical, cynical take on the foundation myth established by Ford and many others. Ford knew that “civilization” came with sacrifice and loss, but he never painted it in such brutal, violent strokes as this. It speaks volumes that Ford’s Wyatt Earp – Henry Fonda – is the callous blue-eyed killer here, a man who will shoot a child without a second thought.

And then there’s the Ennio Morricone music. This is one of the most famous scores in film history – much quoted and parodied – and it’s integral to the film’s impact: soaring, sometimes flip, but with an undertow of nostalgia and regret. The music came first and the shooting was choreographed to the playback.

It is too bad that Variety had already coined the term ‘horse opera’ back in the 1930s, because that’s a more apt description of what Leone was up to than the condescending ‘spaghetti western’. An opera with horses, cowboys, and bullets… By the time the fat lady sings – as Leone cranes back in a truly majesterial last shot – you’ll be crying for an encore.

Blood and Black Lace / 6 donne per l’assassino

Info: Italy, 1964, 88 mins, DCP

Language: Italian with English Subtitles

Director: Mario Bava

Cast: Cameron Mitchell, Eva Bartok, Thomas Reiner


  • Friday January 3, 2020 - 9:15 pm
  • Wednesday January 8, 2020 - 4:30 pm

"Few gialli are as visually accomplished as this, which marks a high bar for the genre that wasn’t matched, much less exceeded, until the release of Dario Argento’s Deep Red." Russ Fischer, IndieWire

"Few films are anywhere near as lovely as Mario Bava’s Blood and Black Lace." Bryant Frazer, Deep Focus

"One of Bava’s most accomplished works, executed with a dazzling, unprecedented use of bright colors and deep shadows." Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid

Giallo is Italian for yellow. But it’s also the name of a brand of hyper-saturated sex thrillers – a sleazy, chroma-injected local take on film noir – which thrived in Italian cinema between the mid 1960s and the early 80s. Ironically, if you had to pick a dominant colour for these movies, it would certainly be profondo rosso (deep red) – the giallo name derived from a series of crime paperbacks popular in the 50s – but in the hands of key directors like Mario Bava, who essentially invented the form, and Dario Argento (Tenebrae; Suspiria) a tawdry, twisty whodunnit could be transformed into a symphony of shadows and light, blazing visual and sonic effects, and eye-boggling camera moves.

Blood and Black Lace was the one that started it all, from the first name in Italian horror. Mario Bava’s seminal giallo touchstone, about a murder spree in a high-end fashion house, was profoundly influential on Argento, Craven, Tarantino and Scorsese, not to mention on the recent cult item, In Fabric. Between its excessive use of color, hothouse tone and pioneering proto-slasher setpieces, Blood and Black Lace is an ultimate embodiment of the genre.

Our mini Gialli series also includes The Fifth Cord (Saturday), and Tenebrae (Sunday).

The Champion / Il campione

Info: Italy, 2019, 105 mins, DCP

Language: Italian with English Subtitles

Director: Leonardo D'Agostini

Cast: Stefano Accorsi, Andrea Carpenzano, Massimo Popolizio


  • Friday January 3, 2020 - 7:00 pm
  • Thursday January 9, 2020 - 6:00 pm

"Stefano Accorsi will move you with one of his best roles."

Set in the glossy world of professional, millionaire footballers, The Champion pairs versatile veteran Stefano Accorsi (The Italian Race) with an extraordinary Andrea Carpenzano (Boys Cry) in this odd couple story of a brilliant, pampered and sorely ignorant soccer superstar and the middle-aged teacher hired to get him through his high school diploma.

Carpenzano is Christian Ferro, a young striker for A.S. Roma. Growing up in a rough area is a far cry from the millionaire lifestyle he is now living, which has attracted party-animal friends from home as well as the return of his long-lost father. When Christian’s determination to prove to his friends that he remains rebellious lands him in trouble again, his coach gives him an ultimatum: get back in line and pass the high-school exam, or get out. Enter Valerio Fioretti (Accorsi), who is enlisted to tutor the troubled player. But Christian’s world of fame and Ferraris clashes with Valerio’s humble circumstances.

D’Agostini’s debut mixes fast life decadence, on-field action, and a much more modest, humble tale of two very different men connecting over text books and heart ache. It’s a funny, surprisingly tender movie told with plenty of energy and polish.

L’uomo che comprò la luna – The Man Who Bought The Moon

Info: Italy, 2018, 104 min

Language: Italian with English subtitles

Director: Paolo Zucca

Cast: Jacopo Cullin, Stefano Fresi, Francesco Pannofino, Benito Urgu, Lazar Ristovski, Angela Molina


  • Wednesday January 9, 2019 - 8:30 pm

Alarmed to learn that an unidentified Sardinian has legal title to the moon, the authorities dispatch an undercover agent to investigate. But first, the recruit must be schooled in Sardinian lore so that he pass muster with the locals… This whimsical, visually sophisticated comedy from Paolo Zucca (L’arbitro) serves up a joyous blend of droll slapstick, deft physical comedy, and absurdism and still contrives to make us care about the fate of a man, the woman he loves, and the planet they share.

Il Gattopardo – The Leopard

Info: Italy, 1963, 186 mins

Language: Italian with English subtitles

Director: Luchino Visconti

Cast: Burt Lancaster, Claudia Cardinale, Alain Delon, Pierre Clementi, Rina Morelli


  • Thursday January 10, 2019 - 2:00 pm

"The greatest film of its kind made since World War II—its only rivals are Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon and Visconti’s own Senso." J Hoberman, Village Voice

Lampedusa’s elegiac account of a 19th century Sicilian aristocrat, Prince Salina (Burt Lancaster) fading into history is one of the pinnacles of Italian cinema. The first half shows us social upheaval through sweeping martial conflict, but the second half of this stately three hour film principally concerns marital arrangements for his nephew Tancredi (Alain Delon) to the nouveau riche Angelica (Claudia Cardinale), ultimately a more radical change.

A Tribute to Bertolucci: Il conformista – The Conformist

Info: Italy, 1970, 111 mins

Language: Italian with English subtitles

Director: Bernando Bertolucci

Cast: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Stefania Sandrelli, Gastone Moschin, Dominique Sanda, Pierre Clementi


  • Sunday January 6, 2019 - 9:15 pm

"A great film, drunkenly beautiful and deeply disturbing." David Thomson, LA Weekly

Last November we lost one of the greats: Bernardo Bertolucci. Arguably his most perfect film, this adaptation of Alberto Moravia’s novel is one of the most visually dazzling movies ever made (DP Vittorio Storaro went on to shoot Apocalypse Now and most of Bertolucci’s subsequent epics). Jean Louis Trintignant is the existential anti-hero, pressed into a political assassination by Mussolini’s security apparatus.