Thursday, June 8, 2017

Indivisibili tops this year's Italian film festvial, ICFF

by Allan Tong

After a decades-long slumber, Italian cinema may finally be waking. It's too soon to call this a golden age or even a revival, but recent films such as They Called Me Jeeg, which dazzled last year's Italian Contemporary Film Festival, and ones this year--starting tonight through June 16 in cities like Toronto, Vaughan and Montreal--offer hope.

Sure, the ICFF boasts a healthy share of mainstream comedies, such as tonight's opening gala, the crowd-pleasing Qualcosa di nuovo (Something New), but the festival has included some films that offer unique voices and imaginative stories.

Orecchie (Ears) is an eccentric film by shot in scintillating black-and-white with a narrow, square-shaped aspect ratio. It's about a supply teacher who wakes up with a mysterious ringing in his ears. Like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, he encounters one mishap after another, from proselytizing nuns to a mysterious Luigi who has taken his car. Maybe. Director Alessandro Aronadio toys with reality in an episodic, surreal film that's intriguing at times, but lacks direction at others. Despite its flaws, there really is nothing like Orecchie.

More straightforward is Veloce Come Il Vento (Italian Race), a race car drama that brings together two estranged siblings after their father dies. Teenager Giulia (Matilda De Angelis) is an ambitious, headstrong driver taking care of her younger brother, but after their father dies, they need to live with their older brother, Loris (Stefano Accorsi), a former racer turned junkie. She's a fighter; he's a loser. She must win races to pay off family debts and keep the family house. Loris trains her, but his bad habits threaten her goals. Performance by the leads are strong and the story offers enough hairpin turns, though the film needs trimming. It takes an unnecessary long time to set up, and could use some black humour, particularly from Loris. The racing scenes are exciting. Matteo Rovere's Italian Race is one of the ICFF's highlights.

Perhaps the best film of this year's festival is Indivisibili (Indivisible). It's about Siamese twins, Daisy and Violet about to turn 18 who seek to split from each other and their exploitive father. Blessed with sweet voices, the twins are fed up with audiences treating them like singing circus freaks. One day, a Swiss doctor offers to separate them as long as they get to his clinic in Switzerland. That'll cost 20,000 Euros, which the twins have earned, but their father has gambled away. The twins escape home to raise the money themselves, but risk their lives. Twins Angela and Marianna Fontana deliver heartbreaking performances, while director Edoardo De Angelis translates Nicola Guaglianone's delicate story into a haunting fable.

For showtimes and tickets to all ICFF film, click here.

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