Remarkably, in what Alberta Lai calls a “city of film festivals”, Italian cinema has never been properly celebrated in Vancouver. “We’ve noticed that just the news that we are going to have an Italian film festival is stirring a lot of attention,” said the director of the Istituto Italiano di Cultura, in a call to the Straight. “So we got the confirmation that there was a need for such a festival.”
Together with the Italian Cultural Centre and the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Canada, Lai has programmed the first Vancouver Italian Film Festival, which kicks off at the Vancity Theatre on Friday (January 10) with—what else?—food, wine, music, and a 35mm print of Federico Fellini’s 1973 masterpiece, Amarcord. Along with the four other classics they’ve lined up, including Luchino Visconti’s Senso (1954), Lai and her partners want to explore “whether it is possible to find a new wave, a revival of good Italian cinema nowadays”. Hence the five contemporary movies appearing in the schedule, spearheaded by Emanuele Crialese’s Terraferma .
Added to this is an exhibition in the theatre lobby of 18 drawings by Fellini, assembled with the assistance of the Fellini Foundation on the 20th anniversary of his death last year. “It was displayed in Italy and also in Albania, Morocco, and other places in Europe. Ours is, let’s say, the premiere in North America,” said Lai, adding that most were taken from a “book of dreams” kept by the filmmaker under the influence of a Jungian analyst.
“In this book you can find everything about his dreams,” continued Lai. “His fears, his opinions, all the characters that we found in his filmography are there in these drawings: grotesque and extravagant characters, big, fat women, and clowns, and portraits of his friends, his enemies, Italian VIPs, artists… It’s a treasure.” More information is at www.viff.org/.