Film at Lincoln Center and Cinecittà announce the complete lineup for the 21st edition of Open Roads: New Italian Cinema, running from June 9 to 15.
Open Roads: New Italian Cinema is the leading screening series to offer U.S. audiences a diverse and extensive lineup of contemporary Italian films. With films by directors such as Laura Bispuri, Mario Martone, Nanni Moretti, and Paolo Taviani, this year’s edition features emerging talents and esteemed veterans, commercial and independent fare, gripping dramas and captivating documentaries.
The opening-night screening is Freaks Out, which took home the Leoncino d’Oro award at the 78th Venice Film Festival and received six 2022 David di Donatello Awards. Freaks Out is Gabriele Mainetti’s wild, jaw-dropping historical fantasy, set in 1943, concerning circus “freaks” on the run from a deranged, 12-fingered Nazi pianist who has prophesized Hitler’s suicide and seeks to harness their alleged powers to prevent it.
Of the 15 films in the Open Roads lineup, dramas are the main focus, including but not limited to: Leonardo Di Costanzo’s atmospheric third fiction feature The Inner Cage (winner of the 2022 David di Donatello Awards for Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor), a group character study set within a mostly abandoned prison; Hleb Papou’s feature debut The Legionnaire, which follows Daniel (Germano Gentile), the lone Afro-Italian member of Rome’s riot-police division, as his unit is tasked with clearing out the tenement building in which his family is squatting; Leonora addio, Paolo Taviani’s first solo feature since his brother Vittorio’s death, chronicling the fate of legendary Italian writer Luigi Pirandello’s ashes and proffering an adaptation of Pirandello’s New York–set final story; Swing Ride, the moving and surprising account of a young girl’s coming-of-age, marking Chiara Bellosi’s second fiction feature; The Peacock’s Paradise, chronicling a neurotic family as they assemble to celebrate the birthday of its matriarch (film icon Dominique Sanda) in Laura Bispuri’s fourth fiction feature, powered by a top-notch cast (including Alba Rohrwacher); and Nanni Moretti’s first literary adaptation (from a novel by Israeli author Eshkol Nevo), Three Floors, illustrating the trials and tribulations of three middle-class families who all live in the same apartment building in Rome.
Open Roads also will pay tribute to the late Monica Vitti with a special screening of Michelangelo Antonioni’s Golden Lion–winning film Red Desert, a seminal eco-psychological nightmare starring the legendary actor as Giuliana, an industrialist’s wife who stumbles through the toxic wasteland in which she lives under the influence of an obscure, debilitating anxiety.
Open Roads: New Italian Cinema tickets are now on sale. Tickets are $15; $12 for students, seniors (62+), and persons with disabilities; and $10 for FLC members. See more and save with a 3+ Film Package ($13 for GP; $10 for students, seniors (62+), and persons with disabilities; and $9 for FLC Members), an All-Access Pass for $89, and a Student All-Access Pass for $45. All-Access Passes are limited and exclude Opening Night. Learn more at filmlinc.org.
Open Roads: New Italian Cinema is co-presented by Film at Lincoln Center and Cinecittà. It is organized by Dan Sullivan, Film at Lincoln Center; and by Carla Cattani, Griselda Guerrasio, and Monique Catalino, Cinecittà.
Open Roads is supported by the Italian Cultural Institute, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.
FILMS & DESCRIPTIONS
All films are in Italian with English subtitles unless otherwise noted, and will screen at the Walter Reade Theater (165 W. 65th Street).
Gabriele Mainetti, Italy/Belgium, 2021, 141m
Italian, German, and French with English subtitles
Offering a wild ride to say the least, Gabriele Mainetti (whose previous feature, They Call Me Jeeg, made waves at Open Roads in 2016) returns with an epic period fantasy that must be seen to be believed. Set in 1943, the film follows the “freaks” of the Circus Mezzapiotta (whose proprietor, Israel, is Jewish), as some of them are duped into taking jobs at the Berlin Zircus in Nazi-occupied Rome, run by a deranged 12-fingered pianist (Franz Rogowski) who has had a prophetic vision of Hitler’s eventual suicide. Believing that the freaks’ abilities, which resemble superpowers, are key to prolonging the Führer’s life, he captures and tortures our heroes in the hopes of harnessing them as weapons. How will they save themselves? Suffice it to say, Mainetti teases out the endgame with a wealth of imagination, boldness, and dazzling imagery. Winner of six 2022 David di Donatello Awards.
Thursday, June 9 at 7:00pm (Q&A with Gabriele Mainetti)
The Code of Silence / Una femmina
Francesco Costabile, Italy, 2022, 120m
A woman attempts to reconcile the mysteries of her past with the dangers of her present in Francesco Costabile’s gripping and personal solo feature debut (from a story co-written by Open Roads veteran Edoardo De Angelis). Rosa (Lina Siciliano) has spent all her life in a small Calabrian village, raised there by her grandmother after her mother’s death when she was a child. Now an adult, Rosa grows increasingly curious about the true circumstances of that mysterious event, and seeks to uncover the truth—an act of excavation that leads her to ever-more-concerning epiphanies about the dynamics within her family and its possible ties to the ’Ndrangheta, a notorious Calabrian crime syndicate. An enthralling portrait both of courage and resistance in the face of shadowy, oppressive forces, and of Calabria itself.
Saturday, June 11 at 5:30pm (Q&A with Francesco Costabile)
The Giants / I giganti
Bonifacio Angius, Italy, 2021, 80m
A sui generis and darkly funny portrait of masculinity on the brink, Bonifacio Angius’s latest feature—which he directed, wrote, shot, edited, performed in, and produced—centers on a gathering of old friends at a decrepit countryside villa. These men set about enacting a Dionysian last hurrah—drinking, taking drugs, recounting their shared past, philosophically discoursing upon the state of the world and of mankind, and inadvertently revealing their own social (and maybe sexual) impotence. But we soon learn that one of them has a gun, and the proceedings grow increasingly surreal as Angius steers this provocative chamber piece to its inexorable yet nevertheless surprising conclusion.
Sunday, June 12 at 5:30pm (Q&A with Bonifacio Angius)
A Girl Returned / L’arminuta
Giuseppe Bonito, Italy, 2021, 110m
Adapted from a 2017 best-selling novel by Donatella Di Pietrantonio, Giuseppe Bonito’s third feature (winner of the 2022 David di Donatello Award for Best Adapted Screenplay) is an entrancing and emotionally precise meditation on childhood and family set in the summer of 1975. An adopted 13-year-old girl arrives at a farmstead, having been sent against her will to live with her biological family, whom she has never met before. Surrounded by strangers in a smaller, shabbier house than that of her wealthier adoptive parents, she must grapple with a new life in a new daily environment, as well as the feelings of abandonment brought on by her reunion with the family she never knew.
Saturday, June 11 at 2:45pm (Q&A with Giuseppe Bonito)
Tuesday, June 14 at 6:30pm
The Inner Cage / Ariaferma
Leonardo Di Costanzo, Italy/Switzerland, 2021, 117m
Winner of the 2022 David di Donatello Awards for Best Original Screenplay, with Silvio Orlando taking Best Actor, Leonardo Di Costanzo’s atmospheric third fiction feature is a group character study set within a mostly abandoned prison, in which a handful of guards watch over a smattering of inmates as they await a constantly deferred transfer to another prison. Toni Servillo stars as the guards’ captain, while the inmates have their own equivalent figure in the form of an influential mobster (Orlando). Di Costanzo’s documentary background is strongly felt in his evocative depiction of the prison’s inner workings, among its staff as well as those who are imprisoned there.
Sunday, June 12 at 8:15pm
Monday, June 13 at 3:30pm
The King of Laughter / Qui rido io
Mario Martone, Italy/Spain, 2021, 133m
Italian and Neapolitan with English subtitles
Mario Martone returns to Open Roads with his latest, a biopic (with a dash of legal drama) of legendary 19th- and early-20th-century Neapolitan actor and playwright Eduardo Scarpetta, masterfully portrayed by Toni Servillo. We watch as Scarpetta and his theatrical company perform to the rapturous adoration of their public, only for Martone to peel the curtain back to reveal the troupe’s internal tensions, many of which are mirrored in Scarpetta’s relationship with his family. Things only grow more strained when a writer sues him for plagiarism after Scarpetta spoofs one of his plays, introducing a new and engrossing wrinkle to Martone’s swirling backstage drama. Winner of two 2022 David di Donatello Awards. A Film Movement release.
Saturday, June 11 at 8:45pm
Tuesday, June 14 at 9:00pm
The Legionnaire / Il legionario
Hleb Papou, Italy/France, 2021, 82m
Hleb Papou’s feature debut (based on his own 2017 short film) follows Daniel (Germano Gentile), the lone Afro-Italian member of Rome’s riot-police division. On the face of it, Daniel’s life isn’t so bad: he is doted on by his beautiful, pregnant wife and respected by his colleagues. But this tenuous serenity is thrown into question when his unit is tasked with clearing out a tenement building, which contains the childhood home in which his family is still squatting, bringing him into sharp conflict with his more idealistic younger brother. Papou movingly renders Daniel’s inner turmoil as a symptom of the country’s broader attitudes toward immigrants, yielding a political parable as forceful as it is emotionally complex.
Saturday, June 11 at 12:00pm (Q&A with Hleb Papou)
Wednesday, June 15 at 4:00pm
Paolo Taviani, Italy, 2022, 90m
English and Italian with English subtitles
The great Paolo Taviani’s first solo feature since the 2018 death of his brother and filmmaking partner Vittorio, to whom this film is dedicated, is a boldly bifurcated work that begins with the demise of legendary Italian writer Luigi Pirandello. Pirandello’s wish had been that, after his death, his ashes be transported to Sicily, but during the Mussolini years his remains were interred in a Roman columbarium; with the war over, a delegate is dispatched to shuttle Pirandello’s ashes to Sicily to make good, though not without some complications. But the black-and-white first half of the film surprisingly gives way to a color second half, which adapts Pirandello’s final story, “The Nail,” about the circumstances of a young girl’s murder by a Sicilian immigrant boy in New York.
Monday, June 13 at 9:00pm
Wednesday, June 15 at 1:30pm
On Our Watch / E noi come stronzi rimanemmo a guardare
Pif, Italy, 2021, 108m
Pif returns to Open Roads with his latest timely farce, this time taking aim at the tech multinationals that have transformed our modern world for better or worse. Arturo (Fabio De Luigi) works for one such corporation, but he invents an algorithm which, unbeknownst to him, effectively makes his position within the company obsolete; having lost his job, his life quickly crumbles, and he is forced to work as a delivery person for the fictitious corporation FUUBER, shuttling take-out orders around town while his movements are monitored and evaluated by an unreasonably strict app. His lone consolation is Stella (Ilenia Pastorelli), a hologram girlfriend also connected to a FUUBER app whose free trial is running out, but the financial precarity of his new job threatens Arturo’s ability to afford a subscription.
Friday, June 10 at 9:00pm (Q&A with Pif)
The Peacock’s Paradise / Il paradiso del pavone
Laura Bispuri, Italy/Germany, 2021, 89m
A neurotic family assembles to celebrate its matriarch’s birthday in Laura Bispuri’s fourth fiction feature, a sophisticated ensemble drama powered by a top-notch cast. Nena (international film icon Dominique Sanda) and her husband Umberto (Carlo Cerciello) are visited by their pushover son Vito (Leonardo Lidi), his girlfriend (Alba Rohrwacher), the younger couple’s daughter, and the daughter’s pet peacock, Paco; they’re soon joined by Nena and Umberto’s daughter Caterina (Maya Sansa), her ex, and her ex’s new girlfriend. Tensions within the group surface quickly, and Bispuri unravels their complex web of secrets and lies with a delicate touch, arriving at a skillfully restrained melodrama marked by a strong sense of intimacy, courtesy of DP Vladan Radovic’s cinematography.
Sunday, June 12 at 12:00pm
Tuesday, June 14 at 4:00pm
Small Body / Piccolo corpo
Laura Samani, Italy/France/Slovenia, 2021, 89m
Slovenian and Italian with English subtitles
Laura Samani’s solo debut feature is a richly traced period drama about a woman’s resilience, imbued with the air of an unsentimental fairy tale. Set in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region (on the Italian-Slovenian border) in 1900, Small Body follows Agata (Celeste Cescutti), who is mourning her daughter’s stillbirth. Inspired by a rumor overheard in church, Agata undertakes a northward journey in the hopes of resurrecting her deceased child for just a single breath, so that she can be baptized, thereby ensuring her soul’s salvation. Agata’s quest finds her crossing paths with an assortment of characters—some of whom help her, while others impede her—as DP Mitja Ličen’s camera chronicles Agata’s quest to save her daughter’s soul with an eye for the lyricism of the natural world and a curiosity about the supernatural.
Friday, June 10 at 4:00pm
Wednesday, June 15 at 9:15pm
Swing Ride / Calcinculo
Chiara Bellosi, Italy/Switzerland, 2022, 88m
A young girl’s coming-of-age unfolds in moving, surprising ways in Chiara Bellosi’s second fiction feature. Benedetta (Gaia Di Pietro) is a withdrawn, heavyset teenager whose mundane life in a rural area outside Rome stands at odds with her inner world. But when a fairground pops up near her family’s home, she winds up befriending Amanda (Andrea Carpenzano), a self-determined trans woman who works there (among other gigs), inaugurating a transformative friendship for both. Through Amanda, Benedetta glimpses a freer life beyond the horizon of her immediate surroundings, and she finds herself wandering down a path toward adulthood. A work of immense sensitivity and casual, low-key poetry, Swing Ride is a tale of self-actualization for today.
Friday, June 10 at 6:00pm (Q&A with Chiara Bellosi)
Monday, June 13 at 1:00pm
Three Floors / Tre piani
Nanni Moretti, Italy/France, 2021, 119m
The trials and tribulations of three middle-class families who all live in the same apartment building in Rome play out across the years in the latest from Nanni Moretti, his first literary adaptation (from a novel by Israeli author Eshkol Nevo). We follow: judges Dora (Margherita Buy) and Vittorio (played by Moretti) and their teenage son, who has recently caused a drunken car accident; a very pregnant Monica (Alba Rohrwacher) and her oft-absent husband Giorgio (Adriano Giannini); and Sara (Elena Lietti) and Lucio (Riccardo Scamarcio), who enter into conflict with their elderly neighbors when Lucio suspects one of them, Renato (the late Paolo Graziosi), of having abused Lucio and Sara’s 7-year-old daughter. The absorbing Three Floors chronicles its characters as they push forward in spite of the misfortunes, mistakes and disappointments that pile up all around them, with Moretti’s powerhouse cast conjuring a world within a condominium.
Monday, June 13 at 6:30pm
Tuesday, June 14 at 1:00pm
Unfinished / Il palazzo
Federica Di Giacomo, Italy/Czech Republic, 2021, 97m
The future of an artists’ commune in Rome is thrown into question when its central patron passes away in Federica Di Giacomo’s kaleidoscopic and deeply personal documentary. The titular “palace” is home to a number of rent-free apartments provided to artist friends of the building’s owner, Mauro, who was singularly dedicated to the never-ending production of an ultimately unfinished film. But after Mauro’s death, his friends and collaborators gather to ask: who will complete the project? Working through both reminiscences from former tenants and a wealth of archival footage, Di Giacomo, herself an occasional member of the palazzo’s community, paints an unforgettable portrait of an idiosyncratic artist and his milieu.
Sunday, June 12 at 2:15pm (Q&A with Federica Di Giacomo)
Monica Vitti Tribute Screening
Red Desert / Deserto rosso
Michelangelo Antonioni, Italy/France, 1964, 117m
A seminal eco-psychological nightmare, Red Desert stars Antonioni muse Monica Vitti as Giuliana, an industrialist’s wife who stumbles through the toxic wasteland in which she lives under the influence of an obscure, debilitating anxiety. When an old friend of her husband’s, Corrado (Richard Harris), comes to town on a business trip, she finds a man more sensitive to her condition, and an affair between them ensues. But Corrado can do little to slow the onset of Giuliana’s psychic collapse. Antonioni’s first color film is an audiovisual tour de force, with Carlo Di Palma’s stark images conjuring a world whose external ravages reflect and reinforce the soul-sickness of modern man, masterfully embodied by Vitti’s lead performance.
Wednesday, June 15 at 6:30pm