Week of Italian Cuisine 20th - 26th November

Week of Italian Cuisine in the World: from 20th to 26th November 2017, various dates and locations (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch)

The Week of Italian Cuisine in the World, an event coordinated by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, with the purpose of promoting Italy’s most renowned exports: “the extraordinary Italian taste” and the pleasure of eating together the Italian way, reaches its second edition. Last year this initiative took place in over 100 countries across the world. This year, New Zealand is in the list of participating countries, with a wide array of events showcasing authentic Italian traditions, high-quality products and regional specificities.

There will be 32 events across New Zealand, coordinated by the Italian Embassy, in Auckland (Giapo, JK14 wines & The Corner, Non Solo Pizza, Palazzo Italia, Pasta & Cuore, Segafredo, Settebello, Dante Alighieri Society), Wellington (La Bella Italia, Bel Mondo, Mediterranean Foods, Cicio Cacio, Franziska, Bastardo, Pizza Pomodoro) and Christchurch (Dante Alighieri Society, La Dolce Vita, Casamassima): workshops, meetings with the chefs, food-and-wine tasting and dinners, cooking classes. The Italian cuisine will also be narrated through cultural events, such as the screening of food related films and documentaries.

Two initiatives, strongly supported by this year’s Week of Italian Cuisine and incorporated in some of the events, are particularly meaningful: the candidacy of the Art of Neapolitan pizzaiuoli as UNESCO Intangible Heritage, and that of Le colline del Prosecco in Valdobbiadene’s site as UNESCO World Heritage “cultural landscape”.

The Embassy is hosting two events in Wellington: a mozzarella workshop with Massimiliano De Caro (Il Casaro), and a cooking class “Italy by Ingredient: Parmigiano” with Viola Buitoni, a San Francisco based native Italian leading food expert.

We invite you to make the most of what this week has to offer, immerse yourself into Italian culinary culture and, of course, buon appetito! #italiantaste

Flyer with all events can be downloaded HERE



L'italiano al cinema, l'italiano nel cinema

Italian at the Cinema, Italian in the Cinema

When cinema muto—silent films—first appeared in the early twentieth century, most Italians spoke in dialect; many were illiterate. After the lights went down in a theater, people would ask, “Who can read Italian?” and someone would shout out the titles. When talking pictures (film parlati) emerged in the 1930s, millions of Italians learned how to speak italiano standard, long used mainly by priests, scholars and aristocrats.

Diction schools, originally established to train radio announcers, churned out professional doppiatori (dubbers) for both foreign and homegrown films, a practice that continued through most of the twentieth century. In Italian theaters, international film stars like Greta Garbo, Laurel and Hardy, Gary Cooper and Mickey Mouse talked with “a Tuscan tongue in a Roman mouth”—classic Florentine pronounced with Rome’s more melodious accent.

After the grandiose promises of fascism imploded,  filmmakers lost funding, equipment and studios but found their voice. Directors and scriptwriters, ammucchiati (heaped together) as they put it, collaborated like artisans in a Renaissance bottega (workshop).  With unflinching, often-excruciating honesty, they recounted the stories Italians were telling each other about their bitter struggles through dictatorship, occupation, war and devastation.

The neorealistic movies did more than help Italy come to terms with a terrible time in its history; they gave dialects back to Italians. Rossellini’s 1946 film Paisà followed the Allies’ advance up the Italian peninsula in six episodes, each reflecting a different local dialect. Visconti’s La terra trema (The Earth Trembles), shot in 1948 with Sicilian fishermen speaking and singing in their dialect, required an Italian voice-over on the mainland.

The most famous of Italian directors, Federico Fellini, invented new words that remain in use today. Vitelloni, the title of one of his first films, referred to big overgrown calves but took on new meaning as a derogatory description of aimless young men. Paparazzi, the plural of the name with which he baptized an aggressive photographer in La Dolce Vita, became the universal word for celebrity-chasing news hounds.

American classics took on Italian names, such as Mezzogiorno di fuoco (Midday of fire) for High Noon, Via col vento for Gone with the Wind and Viale del Tramonto for Sunset Boulevard. They also added some unforgettable expressions to the Italian lexicon:

“Domani è un altro giorno” -- Rosella’s (Scarlett’s) famous line, “Tomorrow is another day”

“Francamente me ne infischio” -- Rhett’s response, “Frankly, I could care less” (Censors wouldn’t allow the phrase “I don’t give a damn.”)

“Suonala ancora, Sam” -- “Play it again, Sam,” from Casablanca

“Ma, dici a me?” -- “Are you talking to me?” from Taxi Driver  

“Che la forza sia con te”-- “May the Force be with you,” from Star Wars

“Amare significa non dover mai dire mi spiace” -- "Love means never having to say you’re sorry,” from Love Story


RadioNZ - Dan Slevin Preview

RadioNZ - Dan Slevin Preview

Preview: Cinema Italiano Festival
10:07 am on 31 August 2017
Dan Slevin dan.slevin@radionz.co.nz

If you still have any room left on your credit card after the New Zealand international Film Festival, Dan Slevin recommends you splurge on the latest festival celebrating Italian cinema which is on in Auckland now.

The Italian Film Festival used to be the biggest of the regional film celebrations. Piggy-backing on the massively successful Australian event, it ran out of steam post-GFC as sponsorship became harder to find, eventually giving up the ghost in 2015. The resurgence of the French Film Festival under the auspices of the Alliance Française means that they now hold the Champions League trophy for regional film festivals in New Zealand.

Italian cinema is too interesting – and too powerful – to be kept off our screens for long but it took a brave man to pick up the challenge and that man is actor, writer and director Paolo Rotondo – once a beneficiary of the previous Italian Film Festival’s boldest move during the good times, a scholarship to work alongside professional filmmakers at the fabled Cinecittá in Rome.

The Cinema Italiano festival has been quietly – and successfully – touring around the regions this year, finding understandable favour with audiences in Christchurch, Nelson, Tauranga, and Havelock North before landing in Auckland this week (and Wellington in November). If your credit card can still sustain some big screen entertainment after the gluttony of the New Zealand International Film Festival, Auckland audiences should head over to the Bridgeway in Northcote and indulge in some – it’s not antipasto if it’s after the main course, is it? – in some dolce.

Among the 20 features in the programme (including two unmissable vintage pictures – Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday which is Italian in spirit and setting at least, and Visconti’s restored classic Rocco and His Brothers), Signor Rotondo offered me an advance look at a couple.


Laura Morante is better known as an actor than a director but her Assolo (Solo) helps nudge me toward my distant goal of #52filmsbywomen in 2017 as well as being one of the more entertaining films I’ve seen this year. Morante directs herself as Flavia, a divorcee in her 40s whose fate it seems is to be disappointed by men. I’m not sure what sort of revelation this is supposed to be, but maybe in Italy it still needs saying.

From awkward family dinners to wallflower tango classes, life conspires to frustrate Flavia, and even attempts at self-pleasure are destined go awry. It’s a broad comedy – a ‘gag’ comedy – but it has a big heart and Morante plays things perfectly, even when she’s upstaged by the best dog acting I’ve seen this year.

The second film I saw was also dominated by a central performance but to slightly less success. In Veloce Come Il Vento (Italian Race), Stefano Accorsi plays Loris, a former rally driver now a heroin addict, forced to reconnect with his family after the death of his father. His teenage sister Giulia (Matilda De Angelis) is a talented driver with a shot at the Italian GT championship but now she has no coach – and if she doesn’t win the trophy the family loses the house!

Accorsi is an acquired taste – playing the junkie as physically wobbly and emotionally unreliable but as a single unrelenting note – but the supporting players conjure up shades of grey and the driving scenes are when the film really comes to life. Young director Matteo Rovere shows veteran Ron Howard (whose F1 feature Rush needed too much digital enhancement to provide anything near the excitement motorsport fans are used to every day of the week on TV) how it should be done.

(Evidently, I am out of step with Italian cinema orthodoxy here as Accorsi swept all the acting awards for Italian cinema in 2016 and 2017.)

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Opening Night & the Beginning of Italian Month in Auckland

Grazie mille to everyone that came along last night and a massive thank you to all of our sponsors!

We kicked off Italian Month in Auckland with a fabulous party and classic film, which will be followed by the Opening of the Corsini Exhibition at the Auckland Art Gallery. Rialto Channel are playing all of the best films from previous Venice Film Festivals during Italian month and at the end of the month the Italiano Street Festival in Newmarket brings it to a close.


Auckland Art Gallery - The Corsini Exhibition

Auckland Art Gallery - The Corsini Exhibition

This is pretty exciting everyone! In the lead up until opening of “The Corsini Collection: A Window on Renaissance Florence” in just over a week's time, you can sign up for a Continuing Education course and gain a deeper understanding of the exhibition. Senior Curator Mary Kisler will take participants on a journey into Renaissance art and ideas drawing on the Corsini’s collection which includes remarkable artworks by Botticelli, Caravaggio, Pontormo, Rigaud and more.

Course outline

Session 1: Setting the Scene – The city of Florence, its history and its people

Through the eyes of the Corsini family, this lecture will provide an overview of the city of Florence, the leading families of the time, and in particular the Medici, encapsulated within the world view of the time.

Session 2: The Corsini family across time

The history of the Corsini family; their rise to fame, spiritually, politically and socially, on both the local and broader European stage. Although they began their relationship with Florence in discreet dwellings in Oltrano in the 14th century, they went on to build the only Baroque palace in the city, serving as a magnificent backdrop to an art collection that still remains today.

Session 3: The Collection

This final lecture will focus on the history of the collection, providing insights into some of the major works coming to Auckland, including original paintings by Botticelli and Caravaggio, as well as introducing a number of Italian artists less familiar to New Zealand audiences. This lecture will also consider the role of the Corsini family today, and the lengths the family were prepared to go to protect and retain what is now the only private collection of art in Florence.

Wed 6 Sep 2017 — Wed 20 Sep 2017
Weds 6, 13 and 20 Sep

Auditorium, lower ground level
$150 Members, $190 non-Members

And it is only $50 to become a Member of the Gallery! It makes for a perfect gift for somebody especially if you add on the +1 for $15.  You can go to any of the exhibitions as many times as you like.

Book Here

Fire At Sea - Fuocoammare and shooting on an AMIRA

The Italian director, cinematographer, producer and screenwriter Gianfranco Rosi was awarded the 2016 Golden Bear -- the top prize at the Berlin International Film Festival, or Berlinale. Rosi was recognised for his documentary feature film FIRE AT SEA, which was captured with AMIRA and examines the current European migrant crisis by focusing on the inhabitants of the Italian island of Lampedusa, where hundreds of desperate, dead or dying migrants arrive by boat every week.

Rosi spent many months on Lampedusa, getting to know the locals to a degree that allowed him to capture their everyday lives in a natural and unobtrusive way. Working entirely by himself as a one-man crew, Rosi had to take care of both sound and image recording, a feat made much easier by the AMIRA's ergonomic design and its extensive audio options.


"The AMIRA was absolutely great...when I had to film during the night the images were amazing, with the blacks really black and the light standing out with unbelievable depth. As a matter of fact, the best scenes are those I filmed in the evening or during the night; they are so beautiful that everyone is surprised and asks me "what camera did you use?" This was fundamental, because I was alone, and having a camera that in no-lighting conditions allowed me to keep shooting even when my eye was not able to see things anymore, while the AMIRA could still see and record beautiful images, was amazing."

A lightweight configuration that combined the AMIRA with small prime lenses gave Rosi the freedom to accompany locals as they went about their day-to-day lives -- all of which are affected by the constant stream of migrants -- and to be on the front line of the crisis. After 40 days accompanying the Italian navy on its sorties to assist foundering migrant boats, Rosi was confronted with the heart-wrenching reality of the lives being lost when he found himself on-board a ship with numerous dead bodies in the hold.

As he told Variety..."death appeared in front of me and I could not avoid looking at it. It was a direct confrontation. That day, I had to decide: "Shall I look or not? Shall I turn the other way?" The captain said to me: "Gianfranco, you have to go in the stowage and capture the tragedy." I said: "I've always tried to avoid shooting scenes like that." He said: "It's like saying the gas chambers are too harsh. It's your duty. You have to show these images to the world." So I went below and there were these asphyxiated dead bodies hugging each other. And I became totally enraged. Narratively the challenge was to build up to that scene and have the audience internalize them without it being considered something somewhat voyeuristic."

Ever Been to the Moon? - review by Benita Gaddum

‘Ever Been to the Moon?’ Film Review by Benita Gaddum.

Once upon a time a supercool, super-sexy, superwoman of the Italian fashion world called Guia inherits a farmhouse - quite out of the blue. In the farmhouse lives a cousin Pino, also a handsome and lonely farm manager and his 9-year-old son. Guia soon discovers that she has pretty much inherited them too. The farm is near a small village called Nardo and its summertime.

Guia is the embodiment of nonchalant cool. She is bright, busy, multi-lingual, independent, strong and platinum blonde like a pearl.  She calls the shots and drives a Maserati. She is fashion royalty in Milan about to turn Heidi in the country as, ‘the only heir of sound mind’ to a family estate. But she wants to sell up and get back to work in Milan.


I’ve always dreamed of high fashion in the country, don’t we all? (so instagrammable right). Who the hell wants sensible footwear anyway?  It takes Guia a while to see that homelife in the country is where the heart is. She manages to be both utterly glamourous and down to earth. Love is what she needs. 


Guia wasn’t looking for love, although it does seem that is the only thing in her life she doesn’t seem to have. She doesn’t care a great deal about her dodgy tax evading or bad dealings boyfriend. A few day’s reprieve from the flamboyant, fast paced life in the city turns into an unwanted few more in the country to sell her family estate.  All the while some hilarious family issues, a few new flowerpots, a few more gorgeous outfits and cocktails prepared by the duelling bartenders in the delightful and colourful village square, a fling with a widower and fanciful friends made, farming in high heels, cows with neck scarves and internet dating stories makes the cracks and rough edges of the farmhouse seem to disappear.


Truth is the farmhouse in all its rugged country splendour is charming. The characters all have their own intertwining quirky tales and are completely loveable; the whole film is like melted butter and marmalade jam on hot toast. It is laugh out loud funny and ignites one’s heart with warmth and appreciation of life with all its eccentrities. It is a rare thing to see a good rom-com. A sparkly feel good film, romantic and funny. ‘Have You Ever Been to the Moon?’ is like the sun, the moon and the stars coming together to create a well-built and vibrant film. This jewel of a film doesn’t look like it was just luck or tidal, it’s made in Italy of course. It looks as though it happened so naturally.  Love like an Italian and all that.


Someone imagines me filling up on rom-com when he is out of town. Why on earth?! We both know he is secretly hoping the best rom-com, like this one, will be saved up for a dark and stormy night spent together.  It’s true I am not into horror or thriller movies while I’m alone. But like I said good, honest, stylish and perfectly corny humour is not that common.  Chick fl… you know what. No! Don’t ever call it that. This is not that. Romantic comedy, artful grown up fairy tales, especially set in Italy, yes. We all need a happy ending.


Dear Friends, boys and girls alike ‘Ever Been to the Moon?’ is too good to keep to myself.  It would be like eating a whole punnet of bluff oysters or a pavlova alone. The kids thought it was glorious, they giggled away and I had died and gone to Italy. Mummy me was on cruise-control all day (being nonchalant cool like Guia) and I did notice that all living things in our house were in an undeniably good mood for a decent time after the film had finished.  

The country/village girl in me loved ‘Ever Been to the Moon?’ like a seagull must love the sun. It will absolutely brighten your week. If the little village called Nardo is anything like the moon, warm up my space ship baby. First I’ll just be swinging into Milan for some new heels. xx





Thoughts on ‘The Confessions’ for floaters like me - Benita Gaddum


I choose to have more time than cash (time to ponder, to swim in that pool I dream about, hang with my beautiful family and friends and look after my babies) That’s mostly why I have chosen to be a stay at home mum, for now. Thing is, reality is, there is still rarely enough time for all that enough of the time. Cash buys time (food and electricity of course, although if there is a head of cauliflower in my fridge, I’ll be ok I think. I could grow that…) But the issue of time is becoming more apparent the more adult I become. We are way too busy. Time is cash.


Somewhere out there in another realm of our world, there are even busier people who formulate mathematical equations that generate cash. Real cash that generates more cash. They are carriers of classified secrets and the weight of the world. They make decisions that may or may not have global catastrophic consequences. Pruning of the planet so to speak. They are the most powerful financiers in the world.  A forest will re-generate but first it’s got to burn down… Decisions made by heartless devils whose heartless hearts go boom for the Stock Markets. What a horrific job. Horribly wealthy, but I’m thinking no hanging and swimming for them (I doubt they would even feel very floaty).


This beautifully adult French-Italian Drama/Thriller/Comedy was so good. I loved it. Tom liked it too (It has a House of Cards-esque feeling to it. Tom likes House of Cards, me too).

It is set in a magnificent hotel on a wealthy section of coast somewhere in Germany.  It’s mysterious, glossy, moody and funny. There is a sensational Classical score which apparently helps for concentration. You need your concentration on. You don’t want to miss a twitch of a monk’s eye. It is a star-studded cinematic experience worthy of my time.


It’s a good story putting 8 Head of State economists together in an (off the star chart) hotel with very high security for the Annual G8 summit. A meeting to decide on a top-secret plan for the future of our planet earth and for humanity.  

There are 3 more guests chosen to stay too. Strangely, a super chilled, ciggy-smoking Carthusian Monk whose name is Roberto Saluce. A female children’s book author called Clair. She’s seductive, fabulous, independent, thoughtful and I’m guessing an insomniac and a cool, random musician guy, he represents a charity of some sort I think.  They all find ways to loosen up (and perhaps even confess) through what is a pretty stressful time, they are after-all only human. So, good. Intriguing and intimate. The suspense. I don’t want to tell you too much and spoil it for you. I loved this film. I absolutely want to see it again. Saluce says there is no such thing as time wasting. So, good.


The Monk has taken a vow of silence. He’s an author too and knows some godly things.  It’s entertaining because no one knows what he has been told or what he is capable of. Perfectly mysterious. He thinks time is a variance of the soul. That time doesn’t exist. I think the hands of my clock travel around far too furiously. Time is not my Monk and I have a feeling I am not going to be allowed into heaven until I have it sorted.


The enigmatic and sympathetic Monk’s real name is Toni Servillo. He played Jep in ‘The Great Beauty’. Servillo obviously knows a good script when he sees one. He chooses good films.

The other guy to mention is Daniel Auteuil. He plays Daniel Roche, Head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He is superb.  If the monk represents God of Compassion, Daniel represents God of Money.  What is more powerful, money or compassion? I like both. But how could you live with yourself if you believed in money over compassion, especially in a life and death situation?  I was stoked to see Daniel (I’m on a first name basis here). He’s French and he is very famous in France.  I’ll try not to go on about him because that would be weird.

The impending doom roused to a climax with a mathematical equation and a black dog called Rolf. It was intense. I hid behind my hands. Tom watched for me.

So, in the end there is Maths and Science which I fully believe in but am no expert. Then there is God and though I am no expert I hope is somewhat true. Somewhere in the middle, floating around the sun in absolute ignorant bliss is me. Perhaps it’s true, nothing is random and for now, unfortunately for me, I need to organise my day per the clock.

I need a mathematical equation to fit my life into. Maybe then I would be on time. It would need to fit in a lot. Maybe it could generate a few extra luxuries like scallops to float in my cauliflower soup for lunch today and love and compassion enough to put a kind ending to the squabbling of my devine children.  And the barking standard poodle (He’s French too). I wish he would stop barking at the cattle. They are not thinking of him as much of the threat as he would like them too. I need Saluce’s influence. Silence is lovely. I believe Saluce is right, compassion is the only true frontier worth fighting for.  I’m going to put on my favourite swimsuit now, switch on Monk mode and take the kids to swimming. F. the cash the day is disappearing. Chill, living in the moment.

Hell, yeah.







Nelson! Grazie mille xx

This was our first year in Nelson and to be able to screen Italian films in the beautiful Suter Theatre was an honour.  We have received such wonderful feedback from audience members and staff at the Suter and we can't thank you enough for supporting Cinema Italiano.

We are looking forward to 2018 and while dates haven't been 'set in stone' it looks like it will be from Friday 15 June to Sunday 25 June 2018.

And a massive thank you to ViaVio for the Italian cheese tasting, Carol Shirley, Wendy, Tiffaney for the flowers and signage xx

'Rocco e i suoi Fratelli' - Review by Vanessa Tedesco

Rocco and His Brothers: still relevant today


Rocco and His Brothers is undeniably a classic masterpiece. The names of its director, Luchino Visconti, and of cast members Alain Delon, Renato Salvatori, Annie Girardot and Claudia Cardinale are well-known to film lovers; and several movies directed by Martin Scorsese were influenced by Rocco and His Brothers.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking, however, that you need to be a film buff to appreciate watching the vicissitudes of Rocco and his family. Exhibit A: yours truly, whose usual TV viewing choices are too embarrassing to share here.

I was swept away by Visconti’s work. I loved the cinematography — the imposing sight of Milan’s Central Train Station in the opening shots; the pivotal scene amid the the spires atop Milan Cathedral; the close-ups showing the play of emotions on the actors’ faces.

The plot was similarly absorbing. I had been concerned about how I would cope sitting in the cinema for almost three hours straight, but there were enough twists and turns in the story that not once was I tempted to sneak a look at the time.

This is not to say that I *liked* many of the events unfolding on the screen; the way in which Nadia, the character played by Annie Girardot, is treated was particularly disturbing. Some of the acting in the film also feels somewhat outlandish to a modern eye— Rocco’s mother, for instance, comes across at times as rather histrionic, evincing the occasional titter from the audience at moments which are meant to be dramatic. Nonetheless I could not look away from the tragedy unfolding in front of my eyes.

Ostensibly the driving force of Rocco and His Brothers is the conflict between two of the brothers, Rocco and Simone, who both love the same woman, Nadia. However this is just the catalyst to explore the very different ways in which the five brothers and their widowed mother cope with the difficulties of adapting to life in the big Northern industrial city of Milan, a setting so foreign from their impoverished Southern Italian village.

This narrative is a key element in the history of post-war Italy: migrants like Rocco’s family moved up North in droves to power the economic miracle which transformed the country from a poor rurally-based one to an industrial power. It is not hard to draw a parallel between their experiences and those of modern-day migrants who have left the metaphorical South of the world to make an arguably better life in the richer Western countries.

This parallel is what made Rocco and His Brothers relevant to me fifty-seven years after it was filmed. It is also why I don’t hesitate to recommend that you watch it, film buff or not that you may be.

'Fire At Sea' - Review by Vanessa Tedesco


Don’t go to Fire at Sea. Don’t go, that is, if you are expecting to see a documentary describing in detail the plight of the refugees who cross the Mediterranean to escape to Europe.

Yes, Fire at Sea is set in Lampedusa, the small Italian island closest to Africa, where most of the refugees who are lucky enough to survive the crossing make landfall. However, much of the film focuses not on them, but on the daily life of a 12-year-old Italian boy, Samuele, who is one of the island’s few permanent residents. Scenes of Samuele playing and practising his skills with a slingshot are only occasionally interspersed with shots of the tragedies taking place in the waters surrounding the island.

Do go to Fire at Sea, on the other hand, if you want to see a different side to Lampedusa; the one that does not make the news, but that is just as real, if not more so, than the news. Because what scenes there are of the refugees are eye-opening in their starkness. Director Gianfranco Rosi does not blatantly pull at your heartstrings: where the TV news adds, Rosi subtracts.

So, while we do see some shots of the laden boats floating adrift waiting for rescue, the images that have remained with me are the more mundane ones: refugees being inspected one by one by men in white hazmat suits and having their photos taken with a number as their only identification. No commentary is necessary – the eyes of these unnamed people say more than any voiceover could.

Do also go to Fire at Sea to see Rosi’s insight into the islanders’ lives in Lampedusa. Samuele, his friends and relatives appear to be totally removed from what is going on, apart from hearing the occasional report on the news of the latest numbers who have not made it. The one notable exception is the island’s doctor who, as well as ministering to the locals and the new arrivals, is called upon to identify the bodies of those who have not survived the trip. His matter-of-fact tired yet compassionate words chilled my blood.

Lastly do go and see Fire at Sea for its cinematography. Rosi shows us the barren scrubby beauty of the island; divers searching for seafood; refugees glowing in the dark in their crinkly space-blankets like lolly wrappers; the ominous grey waters of a Mediterranean Sea completely different from the vision of blue and gold that is portrayed in travel brochures.

Will you like Fire at Sea? I don’t know; but, if you are like me, you will walk out of the cinema a slightly different person. So, watcher, be warned.

Notes on 'Antonia' - Benita Gaddum


When you find yourself thinking about a film days after seeing it, what you thought about the film while watching it becomes irrelevant. The lasting impact of the story is surely the true measure of how effective the film was. The point being is that I have in fact developed a small obsession perhaps even a girl crush (unavoidable I guess) on Antonia Pozzi. I need to stop thinking about her.  May be these notes will help me let her lie.

I was lucky enough to have seen Antonia alone, in a dimmed and quiet home, fire blazing, my own sleep closing in. I woke in the morning and wondered how much I had dreamed and how much I had actually seen. I remember not wanting to wake up and ruin a perfectly strange dream. I felt like Antonia. The wild and bright young Italian poet who lived well before her time.

I rewound a small amount to see if I had missed some in my last nights hazy and dreamlike state.  My 7 year old daughter watched with me and asked why Italy had not been painted yet.  I really wanted to show her the scene where Antonia wakes in the morning, hot with life and energy and gets up to dance with wild abandon but we had to get ready for school.  Abandoning for us was disappointing.

Like a child Antonia’s imagination and passion was a force like gravity. She was fearless and restless. The fearlessness we feel in our twenties, remember?  She needed more time. She was intense but dreamy and like me she over thinks things. I suppress the melodramatic in me (most of the time). The ever so honest Antonia doesn’t.

The difference too is that she is a poet. A beautiful poet. Her words are strikingly pure, they are earnest and pared down. They become more and more woeful and peaceful up until her death.  I urge you to look up Antonia Pozzi. Her poetry is lonely yet sharp and transcendent. I would love to read what she would have to write today. I am not a poet but I did have to tell myself to take a breath while reading her poetry. Cringe but I guess that really is breathtaking. It’s true, her verses made me tingle like all great poetry does. I can only imagine how beautiful her words must sound in Italian.  If only to speak Italian.

One thing I know about myself is that I have an eye for beautiful things. I am 36 now and I have decided this is simply non-debatable.  The film Antonia is visually deeply beautiful.  The set and costume design, as well as the overall feel to the film is natural and stunning. I sit in my living room and feel pleased with our choice in linen coloured off white paint colours, I spy some soft smoky green but I wonder which part of it should I paint pretty muddy pastel blue. I have spent half a day chasing the goose which is the preferable shade of oatmeal  homespun knitwear.  It turns out this is because Fendi designed the costumes. Of course. Oh and I spotified a Pierro Ciampi song. A cool Italian rock song. Yip, this very stylish film has been quite a source of discovery.

It may look like a moving fashion shoot and it would be nice to understand Antonia’s Italian scribbles in the journal’s that we see her jotting away in (this is possible of course with some more research) but I liked it this way. It was meditative, a little bit hypnotising. Take it how it is, at face value if you must. Relax and enjoy the scenery not to mention her nude and sensual form. She wanted to love. She needed love. And you know the plot always thickens with a little more interrogation…

I can only think what a fair ground of symbolism there must be. If your looking for it.  Symbolism is another long conversation but I think that most of the time it’s boring when the artist is dead. A few cryptic or surreal film tricks for fun. Why not.  Symbolism can mean whatever one wants it to mean.  So bloody airy fairy. We could go around in circles and follow tangents forever with no one to say we are wrong right?  Take Art history if you want good results.

I’m impressed (easily impressionable I was thinking) and then I realise that Antonia was directed by Luca Guadagnino(that guy!).  He directed a favourite film of mine from last year ‘A Bigger Splash’.  Luca has an eye for beauty too.  I spent a wee sum on palm trees after that film. It has been the inspiration of our garden (to be) I intend on planting olive trees and scrub (Kanuka maybe). A large pergola is always close to the forefront of my mind and I’ll be needing a pool too.

Thank you Rotondo’s for bringing us the Italian film festival and showing me Antonia. We all love escapism in it’s many forms. Antonia dreamt of another life, a free life. One that wasn’t steered by sexism or convention. Nor a domineering and over protective father.  No matter how privileged and educated she was, a repressed life could never have lasted long in such spirit as Antonia.  My time spent with Antonia and soaking up the 1930’s Milan was the perfect escape for me.

Tragically there was only one escape left for Antonia. The tender young and sensitive age of 26.  RIP Antonia. You deserve your heaven among the stars. It’s been sweet getting to know you a bit. Looking out on this grey wintry day in Hawke's Bay I think of the unpainted Milan and the freezing cold old day you decided to do the unthinkable.  Instead I am re-directing my mind to your poetry. ‘The Scent of Green’ your lost childhood. So much promise and potential.  2017 would have suited you better.

I am guilty of wanting to sway my children into thinking like me. I sometimes use manipulative techniques but they are just children in search of good guidance. We have in our home 2 wild, stubborn, strong willed and intelligent girls, 1 brilliant boy, whom for some reason rarely feels the need to be stubborn.  As they grow and form their own opinions I hope they will not be afraid to speak as many words as they need to get their point across. I hope their wings grow as big as they wish and god willing, society giving, fly free here on earth. We all know that I especially mean our girls right. Let us all be feminists. Please. Can you believe that that is still even a thing.

Time is up. Back to reality. I am trying to ignore my 3 year old who is sternly telling me she needs a biscuit (code for attention) for dinner. Listen to me mummy!  She says. Despite the abundance of warm nutritious food on the dinner table.  I’m feeling like handing over the biscuit.  It is Friday. Off I go now to wrap my Fish-Tail palm tree in a blanket.  There’s going to be a frost tonight.