By Travis Johnson

The world premiere of Melbourne filmmaker Ruth Borgobello’s The Space Between, is just one of the highlights of this year’s Lavazza Italian Film Festival, which kicks off in Sydney on September 13. The first Australian-Italian co-production, the film tells the love story of a former chef (Flavio Parenti) and a spirited Australian girl (Maeve Dermody), set against the spectacular backdrop of northern Italy.

Borgobello and Dermody are guests of this year’s festival and will be holding Q&A sessions in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth.

The opening night film is the brittle Paolo Genovese-directed dark comedy, Perfect Strangers, which sees a dinner party descend into chaos and backstabbing when a group of friends decide to make every phone call and text message public over the course of one evening. The closing night film is the Gregory Peck/Audrey Hepburn classic, Roman Holiday, now fully restored.

Other special presentations this year include Visconti’s social realist melodrama, Rocco and his Brothers; the Centrepiece film, Sweet Dreams by Marco Bellocchio, based on Massimo Gramellini’s autobiographical best-seller; and the brilliant comedy, Where Am I Going?, which now stands as the biggest-grossing film in Italian cinema history.

The main body of the program is spread across three sections. “It’s Complicated” consists of eight relationship-centric films, including the youth detention drama, Fiore; road trip dramedy, Like Crazy; and direct from the Venice Film Festival, The Worldly Girl.

Italy’s best leading ladies are spotlighted in “Donne Italiane”, with films including For Our Love, director Giuseppe Gaudino’s first film in almost two decades; If You Tell Me, the story of real life mafia informant Lea Garofalo; and the Woody Allen-inspired Solo, which is written, directed by and starring Laura Morante.

Finally, “Lights, Drama, Action!” includes such gems as the offbeat thriller, The Confessions; GT racing drama, Italian Race; the grim social drama, Napoli Jungle; and The Ploy, which dramatises the 1975 murder of Pier Paolo Pasolini.

Melbourne and Sydney audiences can also look forward to the special presentation of 88 Days, an Australian-made documentary about Italian migrants labouring on Australian farms as part of their working holiday visa requirements. Screenwriter Michele Grigoletti and researcher Silvia Pianelli will be on hand for post-screening discussions.

The 2016 Lavazza Italian Film Festival runs from September 13 to October 9, at Sydney’s Palace Norton St, Palace Verona, and Chauvel Cinema; September 15 to October 9, at Melbourne’s Palace Cinema Como, Palace Balwyn, Palace Brighton Bay, Palace Westgarth, Kino Cinemas and The Astor; September 15 to September 25, at Hobart’s State Cinema; September 20 to October 12, at Canberra’s Palace Electric; September 21 to October 12, at Adelaide’s Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas; September 22 to October 12, at Perth’s Cinema Paradiso and Luna on SX; and September 28 to October 19, at Brisbane’s Palace Barracks.

For more info and the full program, go to the official site.


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