Italy reaffirms its position as a vital and diverse film country with its contribution to this year’s TIFF. In what is probably a first, all three Italian Venice Competition entries will move straight on to Toronto. In his biopic LEOPARDI (IL GIOVANE FAVOLOSO) in Contemporary World Cinema, veteran film and stage director Mario Martone draws a psychogram of Giacomo Leopardi, Italy’s most important 19th-century poet and philosopher. Finally freed from his oppressive childhood home, Leopardi seeks to fit into the world but remains an outsider, racked by an unhappy love affair and his progressing illness. Moving to Naples under the ominous shadow of Mt. Vesuvius, he becomes absorbed in the desperate and vital spectacle of the city. TIFF veteran Saverio Costanzo is back in the territory of emotional trauma with HUNGRY HEARTS (Special Presentation). A highly strung young couple in New York City is thrown into turmoil by their struggle over the life of their newborn child in this uncanny psychological thriller. Alba Rohrwacher who shares top billing with Adam Driver, enthuses: “TIFF is a very special festival for me,, and it’s a great honor to be back this year with HUNGRY HEARTS.” Francesco Munzi’s Contemporary World Cinema entry BLACK SOULS (ANIME NERE)mines the rich seam of Italy’s criminal underground where the call to blood law and revenge are commonplace and acceptable notions of justice. Playing out like a modern-day Western, ANIME NERE shows the descent into tragedy of three brothers caught up in Calabria’s ‘Ndrangheta. Newcomer Michele Alhaique will also be coming straight from the Lido’s Orizzonti to Toronto’s Discovery section with his directing debut SENZA PIETÀ: Mimmo, a brutal enforcer (played with great physicality by Pierfrancesco Favino), falls afoul of his boss when he protects a prostitute from the boss's sadistic son. His new life on the run, filmed with gritty realism in the outskirts of Rome, forces him to come to terms with himself.
The past few years have been characterized by an explosion of creative new narrative formats, often developed for TV, that have become a mainstay at festivals the world over. Italy’s contribution to TIFF Special Presentations is Stefano Sollima’s GOMORRA, distributed in the US by the Weinstein Company. Journalist Roberto Saviano’s investigative reporting about the Camorra in the depressing periphery of Naples (already the base of Matteo Garrone’s eponymous international success from 2008) is adapted with great skill and only slightly fictionalized for the screen. Grazia Tricarico, graduate of the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome, adapts the ancient Greek myth of PERSEFONE for her entry in the TIFF International Short Cuts competition. The other short, SAN SIRO by Yuri Ancarani will screen in the Wavelengthssection.
Finally, TIFF Docs will include Jonathan Nossiter’s NATURAL RESISTANCE, an exploration of the natural wine movement in Italy following in the footsteps of his success with MONDO VINO. The festival program also includes a number of co-productions with Italy (PASOLINI by Abel Ferrara, FOREIGN BODY by Krysztof Zanussi, LA SAPIENZA by Eugene Greene, ORIZZONTI! ORIZZONTI! By Anna Marziano and FIRE by Raha Shirazi). The selection screenings with the Co-Director and CEO of TIFF Piers Handling were organized by Istituto Luce Cinecittà which together with ICE Italian Trade Commission Toronto will take care of the artist delegation and various events connected with the festival. The directors Mario Martone, Saverio Costanzo, Francesco Munzi, Michele Alhaique, Grazia Tricarico and Jonathan Nossiter as well as the protagonists Alba Rohrwacher and Pierfrancesco Favino will be in Toronto to personally present their films.