June 8, 2016 – Norman Wilner
ITALIAN CONTEMPORARY FILM FESTIVAL at TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King West) and the Colossus Centre Vaughan (7501 Weston, Vaughan), from Thursday (June 9) to June 17. icff.ca. Rating: NNN
The Italian Contemporary Film Festival is unlike most Toronto film fests in that it isn’t curated by theme or genre or even quality. It’s simply a showcase of current Italian cinema, brought to Canada for two weeks of screenings in Ontario and Quebec.
Like most festivals of foreign cinema, the ICFF offers Toronto audiences a chance to catch box office hits that domestic distributors aren’t willing to import – for example, Quo Vado?, the new civil service comedy starring Checco Zalone, which opens the Toronto festival Thursday (June 9, 7 pm, TIFF; June 10, 9 and 9:15 pm, Vaughan).
If you don’t know who Zalone is, that’s sort of the point: his movies don’t play in Canada. But he’ll be in town for the premiere, along with -director Gennaro Nunziante.
One flaw of the ICFF is that the rush to program anything vaguely relevant to Italian cinema leads to some awkward choices, like All Roads Lead To Rome (June 15, 9 pm, Colossus; June 16, 9:30 pm, TIFF), a lightweight comedy starring Sarah Jessica Parker as single mom Maggie, who drags her teen daughter (Outlander’s Rosie Day) to Tuscany for a bonding vacation, only to have the girl run off with the elderly mother (Claudia Cardinale) of Maggie’s old boyfriend (Raoul Bova).
If you’re looking for something a little more artful, try Antonia (June 12, 2 pm, TIFF), Ferdinando Cito Filomarino’s evocative biographical study of the poet Antonia Pozzi. It takes an elliptical approach to Pozzi’s life and work, and Linda Caridi plays the young poet – who died, unpublished, at the age of 26 – as a kind of artful sponge, taking in the world and filtering those impressions into simple but evocative text.
This one seems more likely to land an art-house run on this side of the Atlantic; here’s hoping the right distributor catches it.