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Articles by: Natasha Lardera

  • Art & Culture

    Italian Gem The Wonders Comes to the Big Screen

    Alice Rohrwacher’s award winning film The Wonders is coming to New York. Her magical coming-of-age drama set in the Tuscan countryside that won the Grand Prix at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and that stars her sister, Alba Rohrwacher, will open in the city, at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, on October 30th.  A national release will follow. 

    Alice is one of Italy’s most promising young filmmakers. She has worked in music as a
    performing musician for theatre and in documentary filmmaking as editor and director.

    Her first feature Corpo Celeste premiered in Cannes in 2011 and was then selected in Sundance, New York, London, Rio, Tokyo film festivals and released in the US, UK, France.

    In addition to winning at Cannes, The Wonders was also presented at Toronto International Film Festival 2014, New York Film Festival 2014 and AFI Fest 2014.

    In a few words, the film, written and directed by Alice herself, is the story of a family of beekeepers living in isolation in the countryside of central Italy, most likely between the regions of Lazio e Umbria.

    The dynamic of their overcrowded household, headed by Wolfgang, played by Sam Louwick, and Angelica, played by Alba Rohrwacher, is disrupted by the sudden arrival of a silently troubled teenaged boy, Martin (Luis Huilca Logroño) taken in as a farmhand, and a reality TV show hosted by Milly Catena, played by Monica Bellucci, intent on showcasing the family.
     

    Wolfgang has tried hard to protect his family from the rest of the world, but these intrusions definitely have an effect on Gelsomina (Alexandra Lungu), the eldest daughter.
     

    “The film is set in my hometown and among my countrymen,” Alice has said about the autobiographical aspects of the film, “My hometown is the countryside between the central regions of Umbria-Lazio and Tuscany and bees are the animals that I know best. I also know a lot about cross-cultural families, not just because of my own German-Italian family, but because there are many in my region.

    Apart from these elements, the story and characters are not autobiographical, but certainly familiar to me. I wanted to speak of a firstborn daughter. Of course I was very inspired by my sister Alba, and how I viewed her during our childhood.”
     

    Gelsomina is a restless teenager, easily charmed by the exotic world she can see beyond the confines of her farmhouse. She dreams abut the “wonders” that seem to await her there. “What are they doing in the country?” Alice explains about the family, “The answer is almost embarrassing, but true: they want to protect the girls. From something they know that they have seen because everything is in disrepair, destruction, and corruption, and only the countryside can save you.

    Only by staying together. Their intentions are sincere, even if sometimes they express themselves in rage.” But how do you explain it to Gelsomina, daddy’s little girl? She wants a simpler life, more serene, a family with less ideals and more wisdom like those of her friends. “The family in our story was not originally from the region. They are people that arrived in the country as a political choice because the cities had no more jobs and years of demonstrations had been stifled by violence and disillusionment.” But the outside cannot be kept afar for long.

  • Art & Culture

    Elena Ferrante Fever

    Cosponsored by the Writers' Institute, the Italian Cultural Institute and the Comparative Literature Program at the Graduate Center, CUNY, the Center for the Humanities at the Graduate Center, CUNY, held a conversation on Italian sensation Elena Ferrante. Ferrante is one of the very few contemporary Italian writers whose fame has reached the U.S., and now the tetralogy, the Neapolitan Novels, has earned an undisputed place in twenty-first-century letters.

    Elena Ferrante in America, thus was the evening titled, featured a panel composed by Kent Carroll, the publisher of Europa Editions, the house that has published Ferrante's books in English translation; Ann Goldstein, the translator of the Neopolitan Novels; Bettina Lerner, Comparative Literature at CUNY Graduate Center; and Giancarlo Lombardi, Comparative Literature at CUNY Graduate Center, also known to be the one of the firsts to speak of Ferrante's work and bringing her work to America.

    “When he first mentioned her name, we though he just had mispronounced Elsa Morante's name,” joked the Director of the Center for Humanities in his introduction. He continued to explain that at the moment there is “a fever of Elena Ferrante's stuff. Pretty soon we are going to have t-shirts. There was another event last week at Symphony Space and there will be an event coming up at the Italian Cultural Institute.”

    Elena Ferrante is the pen name of an Italian novelist who has dominated the Italian literary landscape for the past twenty years. Her, or we could even say his, true identity is not publicly known. The author's first book was published in 1992 (L'amore molesto) and a few followed, there is a total of ten. The most popular ones are Days of Abandonment (I giorni dell'abbandono, 2002) and My Brilliant Friend (L'Amica Geniale, 2011).

    “Ferrante has taken inspiration from growing up on the outskirts of Naples to weave narratives of many strands: the depth and complexity of female friendship, changes in Italian society in the second half of the twentieth century, and possibilities for self-actualization in a world still largely determined by poverty, patriarchy, and corruption.”

    In 2004, Kent Carroll and Italian publisher Sandro Ferri started Europa Editions, an American company created to publish European literature in translation as well as US and UK literary fiction. In 2005 Europa published its first novel, Ferrante's Days of Abandonment. “Usually in any romance novel a woman is dumped by her husband,” Carroll explained when recalling how he first got interested in Ferrante's work, “she is initially depressed but then she takes care of herself, becomes hotter, meets an even hotter man who falls for her. The husband tries to come back but she rejects him and everybody lives happily ever after. Not in Ferrante's book. I read it and I thought it was unusually good. It was a common story told in a very different way. I realized immediately though that it was going to be a difficult story, not for everyone. This was going to be a difficult book.”

    And indeed it was. Although the New York Times compared it to Anna Karenina, the book was not flying off the shelves. People were reviewing it, who read it loved it but sales were somewhat disappointing. Things started off well but in about a couple of months they were coming to a stop. A year and a half later they published Troubling Love and “everybody had difficulty with that,” Carroll continued. “People who liked the first book put down the second. The third book did not capture any interest either.

    The turning point coincided with the publication of My Little Friend and an article published in the New Yorker written by James Wood. “Wood wanted all the books and wrote a five page article not only about her books but about the author herself. He wrote about why this writing. The article gave her stature.” Sales didn't increase immediately but people's interest did and it seemed like everybody wanted to be the one who had discovered this great, new author. James Wood was also the one who “pointed out that in her written correspondence with journalists Ferrante has referred to herself as a mother, implying that she is indeed a woman.” The mystery remains.

    And it is indeed the mystery around the writer's identity, the unique stories and narrative forms, the mixture of genres are what make Ferrante such a unique writer. Word of mouth and the hard work of a publishing company who believed in the work of one of their writers is what made Ferrante stand out and now be one of the most talked about contemporary authors.

  • Life & People

    Canzoni, Italy's Favorite Love Songs by Chiara Civello

    “The best jazz singer of her generation,” this is what legendary singer Tony Bennett has said about Italian singer, pianist and songwriter Chiara Civello, an eclectic artist that has taken the US by storm.

     

    Originally from Rome, but now based in New York City, Civello attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston and her music has been described as “a variety of pop, jazz, cabaret and Latin influences.” Through the years, Civello has collaborated with some of the world's finest musicians, including the monumental Gilberto Gil, the poetic Chico Buarque, the pop diva Ana Carolina and the jazz star Esperanza Spalding who took part in her latest work, her fifth studio album, “Canzoni.”

    Available on October 9th on Quarter Moon via SonyMusic Independent Network (SIN), Canzoni is a true, contemporary Italian songbook and a celebration of love songs drawing on repertoire from some of Italy's greatest such as Paolo Conte, Ennio Morricone and Vasco Rossi. The tracks are 17 and they include some Italian favorites such as Io che non vivo senza te, which she performs with Gilberto Gil,  Il mondo, and Io che amo solo te, performed with Chico Buarque.

    The album release coincides with a tour of the Northeast, which sees Civello performing in New York, Boston, Miami and Washington D.C. (See dates below)

    Chiara was able to answer a few questions between rehearsals.

    Tell us about the album Canzoni and the tour in the US, apparently you said this is the album of your dreams.
    I was born in Rome but I moved to the USA when I was 18 to attend Berklee College of Music, where I met a lot of amazing people and I started my musical life exposed to all kinds of styles and nationalities.

    After a few albums as a songwriter I felt the urge to pay tribute to the wonderful repertoire of my country in my own personal way, reflecting on all the music that I had absorbed through the years, the travels and all the amazing musical encounters. I wanted to sing the songs I love without making a nostalgic album, I wanted to sing songs from my country, but without that melodramatic touch that sometimes weighs it down a bit. I wanted to convey the sound absorbed in these last years from all around the world and I was able to do this thanks to Nicola Conte.

    That's how we created Canzoni, an anthology of Italian songs ranging from the 60s to today. I called legendary arranger Eumir Deodato to write beautiful strings and I was blessed with the wonderful presence of Gilberto Gil, Chico Buarque, Ana Carolina and Esperanza Spalding singing duets with me.

    How did you pick and chose the songs that made it to the album?

    Those are songs I love ranging from the great Gino Paoli, Umberto Bindi, Sergio Endrigo to the newest writers like Negramaro, Subsonica and Vasco Rossi. The choice was very instinctive and passionate and it proved to be right.

    You have collaborated with some amazing artists, how important is collaboration with others when making music? And is there someone of your collaborators who holds a special place in your heart?

    Collaborating is really precious and important for any artist. It's inspiring, encouraging, enlightening. I had the privilege of collaborating with amazing people so far in my life. I learned a lot from each single one of them and they all have a very special place in my heart!

    How did you first fall in love with music and what inspires you?
    I fell in love with music very early on, when I barely put a sentence together and my grandma Bianca used to sit me in front of the piano, maybe just to keep me quiet for a minute. I started a relationship with the piano totally based on pure intuition and no rules, just freedom...that's when it all started I guess. What inspires me is life, the others, time passing and things changing.

    ----
    Sunday, October 11, 2015
    New York, NY
Joe’s Pub
425

    Lafayette Street
New York, NY 10003
Doors:6:00pm/ Show:7:30pm
Tickets: $15.00 in Advance / $20.00 the Door
(212) 967-7555
 >>>

    Wednesday, October 14, 2015
    Boston, MA

    Scullers Jazz Club
part of Sounds of Italy Festival
400 Soldiers Field Rd
Boston, MA 02134
(Doubletree Suites by Hilton Hotel Boston – Cambridge)
Show:8:00pm
Tickets: $25.00 ($15.00 for Berklee Students)
 >>>

    Wednesday, October 14, 2015
    Boston, MA
Scullers Jazz Club
part of Sounds of Italy Festival


    400 Soldiers Field Rd
Boston, MA 02134
(Doubletree Suites by Hilton Hotel Boston – Cambridge)
Show:8:00pm
Tickets: $25.00 ($15.00 for Berklee Students)
 >>>

    Sunday, October 18, 2015
    Miami Beach, FL
North Beach Bandshell
part of Hit Week


    7275 Collins Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33141
Show:6:00pm – 10:00pm
Admission: Free/Gratis
 >>>

    Monday, October 19, 2015
    Washington, DC

    The Hamilton
 600 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20005
    Doors:6:30pm/ Show:7:30pm 
Tickets: $16.00
 >>>

  • Facts & Stories

    Food Security, Globalization and Sustainability, Round Table Discussion

    The Italian Academy at Columbia University has presented a round table discussion, co-sponsored, with the European Institute (Columbia University), the Italian Cultural Institute of New York, and the Center for American Studies in Rome, by the name Food Security, Globalization and Sustainability focusing on the legacy of Expo Milano 2015. 

    Expo Milano 2015, is a universal exposition currently taking place (running from May 1st to October 31st) in Milan, Italy, whose motto is Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life. 145 countries, 3 international organizations, numerous civil society organizations and private companies have come together to take action in regards of  food security, safety, and health.

    Speaking at Food security, globalization and sustainability were Maurizio Martina, Italian Minister of Agricultural, Food, and Forestry Policies and Government Coordinator for Expo Milano 2015; Glenn Denning, Professor of Professional Practice, School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) & Senior Policy Advisor, Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), Earth Institute, Columbia University; Livia Pomodoro, President of the Milan Center for Food Law and Policy; formerly Magistrate, Supreme Court of Cassation of Italy, and President of the Juvenile Court of Milan.

    Introduced by Dr. Barbara Faedda, Associate Director of the Italian Academy, the round table discussion focused on “the right to food and the problems of food security, including geopolitical factors around food production and the linked issues of energy consumption and environmental challenges, as part of an institutional mission at the U.N.’s Headquarters in New York.”

    The general idea is that agriculture is vital. “As the primary sector of the economy, it is a national security matter for many countries that are concerned with food security, safety, and health. But agriculture also involves economic growth as a whole, increasing incomes, encouraging investment, and mobilizing scientific, technological, and social movements. Improving agricultural policies and promoting sustainable agricultural development is also a key challenge for restoring the ecological balance of our planet. It’s crucial to support agriculture in becoming more resilient and to stop the consumption of land for non-agricultural purposes.”

    “The Italian agricultural system is one of the economic pillars of our country,” Minister Martina has said, “At the Ministero delle Politiche Agricole we concentrate daily on supporting national agricultural enterprises: by deciding how to use the 52 billion euros of EU funds allocated to the sector, by adding actions to the Stability Law, by sustaining small-medium sized businesses and favoring generational succession. Italy boasts an extraordinary and diversified rural landscape that we have to protect but that we also need to respect and promote. I believe that thanks to Expo 2015 we can revive the Italian agricultural business. The world wants more and more Made in Italy products and we must meet this request. Our potential is great but there is still much we have to learn, especially in collaborating with other countries.”

    And as October 31st is getting closer, what is Expo Milano 2015 doing for Italy?  

    “This is an unbelievable opportunity. The Expo has been a terrific platform that favors exchanges of knowledge, of technologies and techniques. All to find together an answer to the question on how to guarantee enough healthy food to the ever growing world population.”

    At Expo Milano 2015 the main concerns for all, not just for Italy, have been: Science for Food Safety, Security and Quality; Innovation in the Agro Food Supply Chain; Technology for Agriculture and Biodiversity; Dietary Education; Solidarity and Cooperation on Food; Food for Better Lifestyles and Food in the World’s Cultures and Ethnic Groups. In the light of new global scenarios and emerging issues, it is vital to come together in our right to secure and sufficient food.

  • Art & Culture

    Wives & The Academy: Women in Fratti's Plays

    “If I had to convey a message today, my message is that through the years American women have evolved. Today women are super strong and always in control, they do what they want. While in the past, in the fifties for example, they were more naive and did what men wanted them to do. That's why we are presenting two of my plays: one set in 2015, Wives, and one set right after Fascism, The Academy. I wanted to show two different realities and believe it or not, in both scenarios women, whether they are victims or not, triumph.”

    Playwright Mario Fratti, a prolific writer and drama critic who was born in Italy but has been
    living in New York since 1963, thus explained to i-Italy the two works that will be performed from October 8 to 25, at the Theater for the New City.

    The program consists of a world premiere of Wives, Fratti's latest work, in a double-bill with his breakthrough play, The Academy.  The two-part evening is directed by actor/director Stephan Morrow, who plays the instructor of a school for gigolos in The Academy.

    “The Academy is set in the 1950s in Venice and amid the postwar nihilism and defeat, a reactionary professor has organized a school to teach young Italian men how to seduce and exploit American women. The six young gigolos who are his students are not the helpless loafers we know from Fellini's I Vitelloni.

    Rather, they are enterprising young men, most bearing names that were commonly given to babies of the period (Afro, Benito, Corso, Donato, Elio) in praise of Mussolini's regime. All owe a curious debt to the Professor's wife, who oddly represents the postwar nation as reflected in the character of a woman.”

    “In The Academy the woman who is linked to the professor is a total victim, she has been hired to serve him, while the American women are used by the Italian gigolos,” Fratti continued and then answered to my questions regarding the men in his plays: “Men think they can manipulate but in truth they are the ones being manipulated. In Wives the man thinks himself charming and seductive but the Wives literally destroy him. This type of man does not exist anymore, things have changed.”

    In Wives women instead of being victimized by an opportunistic man, are firmly in control. “These women are really tough. I was inspired by all the women I meet every day,” Fratti continued, “I always do my homework and study my characters. When I am with a woman I let her talk, and I learn a lot.”

    The Academy's Professor, who trains the young men in the sympathetic tactics to conquer vulnerable American dowagers, will be played by director Stephan Morrow. Morrow has directed Fratti's recent productions performed at the Theater for the New City: "Trio" (2010), "Quartet" (2011), the double-bill of "Three Sisters and a Priest" and "Suicide Club" (2012), "The Vatican Knows (about the kidnapping of that young woman)" (2013) and"Six Passionate Women" (2014). When asked about their collaboration Fratti explains that “I always have to explain to Stephan how my women are. He sees them as prostitutes but I see them as victims so I need to make him see that too. He gets the men right away. Together we work in total harmony. At the beginning I am very present in the rehearsing phase and then I let go and let Stephan and the actors take flight. ”

    In The Academy the Professor's wife will be played by Kate Rose Reynolds and the students will be played by Michael Striano, Fergus Scully, Kellan Peavy, Nick Palazzo and Taylor Petracek and Tucker Lewis.

    In Wives, Carlotta Brentan plays the man's divorced wife while Giulia Bisinella plays his new fiancee. The two young Italian actresses have worked in Fratti's plays before and the playwright remembered seeing them act and not noticing an Italian accent. “It is important, if you want to work here, where you are a foreigner no matter what, not to have an accent. If you do, you won't be taken seriously. My agent doesn't want me to meet with my producers. She is scared of my spoken English, and prefers to let my writing speak for itself.”

    Words on a page don't have an accent.

  • Facts & Stories

    Discover the Cuisine of Veneto While Sipping Prosecco

    It s not even the end of September and stores already have Halloween treats and tricks, Thanksgiving turkey extravaganza and Christmas decorations galore. Holidays traditionally call for some bubbly and the Italian bubbly par excellence is Prosecco. 

    Prosecco, for many nicknamed “Italian champagne,” is a sparkling white wine from north-eastern Italy known for its fine and persistent bubbles and for both its flavors and aromas which are characterized by subtle complexity. 

    Since July 2009, the name Prosecco has been regulated and protected under DOC law, ensuring that wines labeled with the name come only from the specified areas of north-eastern Italy. 

    In this case specifically from Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia wine regions, where Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene is produced. Conegliano Valdobbidene, represents the top of the quality pyramid for Prosecco.

    Those who want to experience more than a bottle of bubbly and want to know more about their favorite wine cannot find a better destination than the “Strada del Prosecco.”

    First known as the “Strada del Vino Bianco,” which officially opened in 1966, the Strada del Prosecco is a stretch of road that winds up and down the hills of Conegliano, Feletto, Quartier del Piave and Valdobbiadene all the way to the base of the Prealpi mountains in the Veneto region.

    The so-called Strada del Prosecco and the Wines of the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Hills was officially founded in 2003 and it maintains extensive tracts of the original historic itinerary but they have been supplemented by diverse routes that really boast the beauty of the area with its diverse viticultural landscapes and many historical and artistic treasures that are scattered amidst the hills.

    The itineraries are numerous and take the visitor between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene. the two main towns, situated in the heart of the upper Marca Trevigiana, the cradle of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore. 

    This is a landscape like no other: steep hills alternate with gentle slopes, covered in a never ending patchwork of vineyards. In this magical area, the air is scented by a whiff of wine and of food delicacies, while the land is impregnated by centuries-old winemaking and culinary culture. The people here love their territory and its traditions, which are always kept alive, especially the culinary ones.

    Among the area's most renown products, that can be tasted in all restaurants, big and small, that are scattered around the different itineraries, we find cured meats (Sopressa Vicentina PDO, Prosciutto Veneto Berico-Euganeo PDO, Cotechino di Modena PGI, Mortadella Bologna PGI, Salamini italiani alla cacciatora PDO, Zampone di Modena PGI), pork, beef and horse meat, cheeses (Asiago PDO, Grana Padano PDO, Montasio PDO, Monte Veronese PDO, Taleggio PDO, Provolone Val Padana PDO), wild vegetables (Radicchio Variegato di Castelfranco PGI, Asparago bianco di Cimadolmo PGI, Fagiolo di Lamon della Vallata Bellunese PGI, Radicchio Rosso di Treviso PGI), chestnuts (Marrone di San Zeno PDO), rice (Riso Nano Vialone Veronese PGI) and honey, all of which contribute to the rich and varied gastronomic offerings from this area.

    The cuisine of Veneto is indeed pretty rich: much of the diet is based on fresh seafood, such as clams, mussels, scallops, prawns, crabs, octopus and even sea snails. Risotto nero, a creamy black rice dish made with squid ink is pretty popular as is Baccalà alla Vicentina, stockfish cooked in milk and served with onions and polenta. 

    There is plenty of room for various meats, including game birds and horse. The famous Italian dish Carpaccio originated in the Veneto region: it consists of paper thin slices of beef served, according to tradition, with a mustard and Worcestershire flavored mayonnaise. Another local specialty, which happens to be enjoyed all through the peninsula, is Fegato alla Veneziana, veal liver sauteed with onions and flavored with sage, parsley and a touch of red wine or vinegar in a sauce of oil and butter. Meat, including birds, is often served alongside polenta, ground corn.

    Radicchio rosso is the region most prized vegetable. Radicchio is an ingredient used in many preparations: it's used in risotto (in Veneto rice is mostly preferred to pasta), grilled as a vegetable, cooked into soups and eaten raw in salads.

    Many of the locales that serve this amazing food almost seem to be hidden away in the valleys and in the little villages that dot the area, that's why it's recommended to wander off and discover treasures that date back centuries. Many of the restaurants feature a plate that reads “Bottega del Vino.” 

    The meaning of this is that the business has been carefully reviewed by a group of experts in terms of quality of wines available, both for tastings and for sale, authenticity of the place and oenological knowledge of the staff. Restaurants are carefully reviewed year after year and if they don't match the qualifying criteria the plate is removed. In order to be considered for qualification, each place has to sell, Bianchi dei Colli, in the dry and sweet varieties, and Prosecco and Cartizze, in dry, amabile (sweet), frizzante (sparkling) and spumante varieties.

    Along with the aforementioned delicious food, a visitor can experience the area’s many sights and landmarks, historic castles, decadent villas, of pristine monuments, sacred churches and ancient thermal springs, as well as its most prestigious vineyards.

    No matter where you are, all around, the vines, kissed by the sun, await endlessly.

  • Events: Reports

    Celebrating the Life & Cinema of Ingrid Bergman

    Mark your calendars for a special cinema event: on Sept 12, BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) is presenting a unique program with famous actors, Isabella Rossellini and Jeremy Irons for The Ingrid Bergman Tribute—a theatrical event celebrating one of the greatest international actresses of the 20th century.

    Commemorating the centennial of her birth (born Aug 29, 1915), the evening features commemorative readings, letters, memories, and never-before- seen footage from Bergman’s personal archives.

    Rossellini, one of Bergman's two twin daughters (her sister is Isotta Ingrid Rossellini) and Irons are scheduled to perform live on stage portraying Bergman and various characters from her eventful life, guiding the audience through her personal and professional experiences while original film footage and images from her private archive are projected on screen.

    The production was created and written by Ludovica Damiani and Guido Torlonia, the latter is also directing, in collaboration with Isabella Rossellini.

    Woven throughout the unique performance are testimonies and stories from friends and artists Bergman knew and worked with, such as husband and director Roberto Rossellini, director Alfred Hitchcock, photographer Robert Capa and writer Ernest Hemingway.
     

    But there is more Bergman on BAM'S calendar: from Sunday, September 13 through Thursday, September 29, they present Ingrid Bergman, A film retrospective, a series of representative films starring the international leading lady.

    “Surveying a career that took her from ingénue to superstar, the series will showcase major works such as Michael Curtiz’s Casablanca (1942) and Roberto Rossellini’s Journey to Italy (1954), as well as Swedish rarities like Per Lindberg’s June Night (1940) and late-career highlights like Vincente Minnelli’s A Matter of Time (1976). Bergman’s radiant screen presence brought an unaffected naturalness, innate intelligence, and genuine human warmth to her iconic roles, and her singular mix of dignity and vulnerability remains as fresh and affecting as ever,” BAM's Publicity Department has stated.
     

    Among the films presented in the retrospective a few favorites:
    Casablanca (1942) directed by Michael Curtiz, with Humphrey Bogart and Paul Henreid. The film is one of Hollywood's all time classics, the story of an international intrigue and an old love affair. Screening on Sunday, September 13 at 2, 4:30, 7, 9:30pm.
     

    Journey to Italy (1954) directed by Roberto Rossellini, with George Sanders.  This is the story of a British couple whose marriage falls apart during a trip to Italy. “Their growing estrangement is played out against the richly symbolic ruins and desolate landscapes of the countryside.” Screening on Saturday, September 19 at 4:30, 9pm & Sunday, September 20 at 2, 4, 6, 8, 10pm.
     

    Notorius (1946) directed by Alfred Hitchcok, with Cary Grant. A classic by the master of thriller, Notorius is a romantic thriller that features and espionage operation and censor-defying, two-and-a-half-minute kissing sequence. Screening on Friday, September 18 at 2, 4:30, 7, 9:30pm & Saturday, September 19 at 2, 6:30pm.
     

    And a few lesser known gems:

    A Woman's Face (1938) directed by Gustaf Molander, with Tore Svennberg and Anders Henrikson. In one of her earliest roles, Bergman plays a disfigured woman exacting revenge on society. Screening on Monday, September 21 at 4:30, 7, 9:30pm.
     

    June Night (1940) directed by Per Lindberg, with Gunnar Sjöberg and Marianne Löfgren. Bergman's last Swedish film before she became a Hollywood sensation, portrays what a young woman does in order to start a new life in Stockholm due to an affair that has scandalized her small town. Screening on Tuesday, September 22 at 4:30, 7:15, 9:15pm.
     

    For a complete list of films go to www.BAM.org

    The retrospective is presented in conjunction with the Museum of Modern Art’s Ingrid Bergman: A Centennial Celebration, running August 29 through September 10.

    The Ingrid Bergman Tribute is taking place on September 12 at 8pm at the Howard Gilman Opera House (30 Lafayette Ave) while the Ingrid Bergman, A film retrospective is scheduled from Sep 13—29 at the Rose Cinemas.

  • Events: Reports

    Marta Mondelli and Italian Theater in New York

    It's 1954. Eva is a young woman living in New York. After her wedding is unexpectedly called off, she spends the time set aside for her honeymoon walled up alone in her apartment, taste-testing for a new dietary soft drink.

    Her only distraction is living vicariously through the neighbors outside her window, and her 
    only visitor is Aunt Nora, a not-so-ladylike Park Avenue lady who will do anything to escape her perfect uptown life. This is a recap of The Window, the 2014 play by Italian playwright, actress and director Marta Mondelli, a prominent representative of Italian Theater in the City. Produced with the help of Teatro Italiano Network and a successful crowd funding campaign with Kickstarter, the play, starring Mondelli herself and Cristina Lippolis, was presented at The Cherry Lane Theatre for ten sold-out runs in January 2014.

    Mondelli studied acting and also graduated in Ancient History at the University of Bologna. She has been acting professionally since 2002 and moved to New York in 2002 where she now writes and acts. New York is a place that matches her energy and her love for challenges. She is now working on her upcoming play: Toscana.

    Tell us about your latest project. Where is Toscana coming from?
    Toscana, my latest play, takes place at a deserted hotel's pool off-season in Tuscany where two American couples meet. After an initial comedic introduction to these four characters, unexpected tragedy ensues and, through that, we discover what these people really are. Like in my previous play, The Window, a thriller set in 1954 New York City, I will be performing, but not directing. I prefer to leave the direction to another person: it is a fresh look at my writing and I have more fun as an actress.We are now in the process of gathering cast and crew, including the director of the play. Pre-production is a very exciting time and I'm looking forward to all the challenges and rewards! The play will be performed for 3 weeks starting on March 21st 2016 at the Paradise Factory theater in Manhattan.

    Of all Italian regions, how did you pick Tuscany?
    Both my latest projects, a short film currently in post production and my second play, Toscana, are set in Tuscany. My inspiration for both locations comes from the "summer job" I have since 2011 in Capalbio, Tuscany. Every summer I host the literary festival Capalbio Libri and I meet very interesting authors and guests. Since I go there every summer, I'm influenced by what I see there, the Italian books I get a chance to read, and the wonderful locations. That's why, when it came time to find a location for my short film or the setting for my play, my mind instantly went to those hills and those beautiful surroundings.

    Did you always write? Did you ever imagine becoming a playwright in the city of Broadway and theater?
    I always loved writing but it is after moving to New York in 2002 that I found more inspiration and energy than ever! I don't know if this is truly the land of opportunity for everybody but it definitely gave me a lot. On top of that, I believe that homesickness gives you a chance to be more introspective. So these two forces propelled me to write: the amazing energy this city has on one side, and the chance to reflect about my life in Italy from afar on the other.

    In New York I wrote my first novel, published in Italy by Cairo Editore with the title Occhi di cane cuore di cervo, and in New York I started writing initially as a journalist and a blogger for the Huffington Post and then I found that I loved writing dialogue and that I was good at it so I moved away from novels (not for good, but for now!) and I wrote a feature film, The Contenders, that I have also directed. Now I'm doing both: movies and theater. I had no idea that I would become a playwright but I think that this city rewards bold choices and talent. It's not easy, but I feel that it is easier than in Italy.

    Does being Italian make any difference?
    I think my writing reflects my culture in a subtle way: my stories are never set in Italy but in Sweden, Greece, the New York of the 50s, my characters are never Italian. I need to write from a distance, I guess. With the play Toscana I return to Italy for the first time. It is not easy to be a foreigner in this city. Obviously New York welcomes and accepts everybody, but as an Italian actress and writer in New York, it is easy to fall into stereotypes and to be labeled in a way that doesn't really reflect my nature. But apart from that, I never felt undermined by the cultural scene in New York, I feel inspired and engaged by its diversity and opportunities.

    There is a new wave of Italian kids moving to the US, how is it different now from when you moved here years ago?
    I've heard that there are more and more young kids moving to New York and I welcome this new, fresh blood. Now, next to the historic tradition of Italian American culture, there is also the presence of us, new Italians, who bring contemporary Italy to this country and thanks to which even the culinary landscape of New York is changing (better pizza, better ice cream, more and more espresso bars)!

    Who inspires you? Italian and not?
    The authors who inspire me are many. For Toscana, I think that it was definitely a combination of Edward Albee and Tom Stoppard, but it depends on what I read at the moment. Right now I'm reading a lot of plays, which is a very interesting read, since a written play is actually meant to be a tool for theater, not necessarily reading material, but I enjoy reading Christopher Durang and Eugene Ionesco: they remaster classes in dialogue. The Italian authors that I get inspiration from are definitely Italo Calvino (his "Lezioni Americane" is a great manual for writers) and Pirandello, but I'm also reading contemporary authors such as Marco Calvani, who is in the US at the moment.

  • Dining in & out: Articles & Reviews

    For the Love of Garlic

    The experts tell us that what makes it unique is the combination of large, compact, white cloves, a distinct, pungent flavor, and a long life span: Voghiera’s garlic isn’t only Italy’s most beloved garlic, but the true elixir for a long life - the heath benefits of garlic in the treatment of colds, cancer, heart disease, hypertension, infection and even impotence are more than often praised - that is about to be celebrated for three days in a special festival in the Castle of Belriguardo, in the province of Ferrara. From August 7th to the 9th, this special bulb that earned, back in 2007, DOP recognition, returns to flavor every type of dish, so that garlic-laced foods will be available for sampling.

      At the festival, in addition to sampling, people can participate in culinary competitions, one called La Treccia Perfetta (the perfect braid, as in garlic braid), seminars, a special dance show, called Bagliamo,  and a preview of a special program that will be featured at Milan's EXPO on August 21st. This is the opportunity for the Grande Mercato dei Sapori, a large local produce market, to introduce the public not only to this special garlic but to other products found in the area.

    The garlic produced in Voghiera counts for less than 1% of the national production, but quality counts more than quantity; its unique characteristics derive from the terrain and environment where it is produced, with its silty-clay soils, near the Po’s Delta. This garlic is cultivated in Voghiera, Masi Torello, Portomaggiore, Argenta and Ferrara according to specific rules and then it is certified by an external inspection entity, which is recognized as qualified by the Emilia Romagna region. 

    Aglio di Voghiera DOP is available on the market in different ways: fresh or green, meaning it has just been picked and its stems are still green; semi-dry, meaning its stems are white but not completely dry;  dry, meaning that the outer skin and the stems are totally dry. The garlic is dried in a completely natural way and then braided.

    During the summer months, another DOP garlic is celebrated, Aglio Bianco Polesano DOP hailing from Polesine, in Veneto. The "Festa dell'Aglio Polesano" was held in July in the Arquà Polesine Castle.

    Polesine's Gold, this is how the garlic has been nicknamed, is loved for its health qualities: it is a natural antibacterial, antiseptic, mucolytic and hypotensive that cures about everything! Aglio Bianco Polesano DOP has a characteristic aroma: it is delicate and more persistent with scents of freshly cut grass or sweet fruit. Its uses are endless, it all depends on personal tastes – it can be enjoyed raw, whole or crushed, dried or in dust. Aglio Bianco Polesano DOP gives dishes a unique taste.

    Garlic is an important ingredient in Italian cuisine but it is not used in everything, many still believe it is, as its distinctive taste can sometimes detract from that of other more shy ingredients. It is used in some sauces, stews, soups, salad dressings, pasta sauces, casseroles, breads and grains. An important rule: when sautéing, avoid overcooking because as the garlic browns it begins to exude a bitter aroma that will be a portent of its contribution to the final flavor of the dish.

  • Art & Culture

    Record of Italian Films in Competition at Venezia 72

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