Watch the 2021 official trailer above and check out a special preview of this year’s 20th-anniversary edition by Dan Sullivan, member of the Open Roads programming team, below.

Following a one-year hiatus, I’m very pleased to share with you all that “Open Roads: New Italian Cinema,” our annual (Covid-notwithstanding) survey of the best and most exciting of recent Italian film, is returning to Film at Lincoln Center for its 20th edition this coming Friday, May 28. Work was already underway on this edition at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, and so I’m happy to say that this year’s lineup includes films which would have been included in the 2020 edition (but have yet to receive their chance in the spotlight here in the States) alongside an assortment of outstanding new works from Italy that have premiered internationally in the intervening time. I hope that, in encountering these films, you all will come away with a sense of Italy as still harboring one of the world’s most vital and vibrant national cinemas, and we have assembled an eclectic and stimulating collection of recent films from Italy to make that very case.

Our opening night film, Bad Tales (which is also opening for a run in our virtual cinema on June 4; more details will be announced in the coming days), is the sophomore feature from Damiano and Fabio D’Innocenzo, whose previous film, Boys Cry, was an Open Roads standout in 2019. Every bit as stylish as that film, Bad Tales offers an unvarnished yet poetic glimpse into the lives of the youth living in Rome’s suburbs. A wild ride not to be missed, Bad Tales continues the D’Innocenzo brothers’ project of chronicling the confrontation between young people and a world not of their own making with their already-signature knack for painting the tragedy and comedy of everyday life on the outskirts of Rome.

Winner of seven David Di Donatello Awards (including Best Picture and Best Actor) earlier this month, Giorgio Diritti’s Hidden Away is a tour-de-force biopic of the painter Antonio Ligabue, unforgettably portrayed by the great Elio Germano. Marked by a visually splendorous approach to rendering the life of Ligabue, who only began to experience artistic success in his late 40s following years of grappling with mental illness and forced hospitalizations, Hidden Away is a beautiful and committed work that reconstructs its subject’s biography by drawing upon the raw emotion of Ligabue’s paintings and the tense historical backdrop of Switzerland and Italy in the first half of the 20th century.

Finally, two documentaries in the lineup help us to better understand sociological shifts in Italy both past and present: Pietro Marcello’s moving and intoxicating For Lucio uses a kaleidoscopic array of archival footage and new interviews to chronicle the life of Lucio Dalla, the legendary Bolognese singer whose vivid lyrics captured an Italy in transition after World War II, moving ever further away from traditional rural culture and towards city-based mass consumerism. Francesca Mazzoleni’s Punta Sacra situates us in the present, tracing a complex and spellbinding portrait of Ostia, a small village on the Roman coastline that more than 500 families call home. Embedding with the locals, Mazzoleni and her camera powerfully bear witness as Ostia, itself something of an assemblage of illegally built homes, is threatened by real estate developers, and the resulting document is a stirring portrait of courage, strength and perseverance.

Viva l’Italia, and see you at the (virtual) movies!

Dan Sullivan

Assistant Programmer, Film at Lincoln Center


For the first time in the festival’s 20-year history, Open Roads: New Italian Cinema can be experienced by audiences nationwide via the FLC Virtual Cinema. Browse the full lineup and get tickets here