Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Something New at this year's ICFF

by Allan Tong

You gotta love the Italians for opening their film festival, the ICFF on June 8 in Toronto, with a romantic comedy about two older women and a younger man.

In Qualcosa di nuovo (Something New), best friends Lucia (Paola Cortellesi, above right) and Maria (Micaela Ramazzotti, above left) fall for the same younger man, Luca (Eduardo Valdarnini, above center) without knowing it. Luca's finishing high school, and Paolo and Micaela have finished past marriages. They feel exhilarated being with 19-year-old Eduardo, but also uneasy. Sure, the sex is fantastico, but when they try to relate to him outside the bed the differences between them emerge: divorces, children, career. Things don't help when the two good friends discover they're seeing the same younger guy.

Directed by Cristina Comencini, Qualcosa di nuovo is a breezy comedy, a crowd-pleaser and a decent choice to open this year's ICFF. Lucia and Maria offer some dimension, though Luca remains a callow, young man interested only in getting laid. The comedy is more cute than cutting, squarely in the tradition of mainstream Italian cinema. Cortellesi shines, offering some vulnerability to her Lucia. She will grace the red carpet at the ICFF opening gala in Toronto on Thursday, June 8 at 7:00 pm with further screenings in Montreal and Vaughan.

Altogether different, but worth seeing is Fiore (Flower). In this neo-realist drama shot like a documentary, teenage Daphne steals cell phones at knifepoint and lands in a youth detention centre. Most of the film takes place here where Daphne flirts and falls for Josh in the boys' wing, another teenage thief. Daphne also befriends and battles various cellmates and tries to build a relationship with her father, who himself is on parole. He also lives with a woman Daphne can't stand.

Selfish and brutish at time, Daphne is hard to like, but credit director Claudio Giovannesi and his team for keeping the story lean and focused and star Daphne Scoccia (above with Valerio Mastandrea as her father) for her uncompromising performance. There's not an extraneous frame in this movie. It's shot handheld with minimal music. Every scene feels real. Fiore is unapologetic and unsentimental, almost to a fault. Its only weakness is a lack of progression in Daphne. She doesn't really change. Fiore plays in Vaughan, Montreal and Quebec City. Details, tickets and times are here.

A total of 180 ICFF screenings take place June 8-16 at Toronto's TIFF Bell Lightbox as well as in Vaughan, Hamilton, Montreal, Québec City and Vancouver. To honour Canada's 150th birthday, the ICFF will host From Bello to Beautiful: The Art and Impact of Italian-Canadian Cinema, seven days of free screenings starting with Noelle’s Journey, a documentary by Peter Gentile about two immigrants who left southern Italy for a new life in Canada.

This year's guest of honour is actor-director Christian De Sica, son of renown director, Vittorio (Bicycle Thief). 

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