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Articles by: Giulia Madron

  • Facts & Stories

    “My Aunt Rita”

    The Italian Cultural Institute and the Centro Primo Levi of New York celebrated, on February 4th, “Il Giorno della Memoria” at the Centro Primo Levi of New York, remembering, one the greatest Jewish Italian scientists, the Nobel Prize Rita Levi Montalcini, who passed away in December of 2012.

    The event, Liberty of knowledge: Remembering Rita Levi Montalcini, started at 5pm with somevery interesting opening remarks by some representatives of many important cultural and academic institutions: Natalia Indrimi, Director of the Centro Primo Levi, Riccardo Viale, Director of the Italian Cultural Institute, Alain Elkann (writer and scholar), Annalisa Capristo (Center for American Studies, Rome) and Antonino Cattaneo (Fondazione Ebri).

    Above all, a special guest, and one of the closest persons to Rita, attended the event: her niece Piera Montalcini. Her speech was really touching and funny at the same time. She spoke not only about her aunt’s career and success within the scientific sphere but she also talked about how great was this woman within the familiar sphere, that is, in her private life.

    Graduated in Electronic Engineering, since 1976 Piera Levi Montalcini manages her own company that produces numerical controls for machine tools and robots. During her career she had the opportunity to work side by side with her aunt Rita, attending meetings and shaking hands with many important figures of the cultural, political, academic and social scene. In 1996 she became President of the Levi-Montalcini Foundation and after six years she founded the Association Levi-Montalcini a.p.s of which she is President and that deals with young Italians, orientation, scientific divulgation and research.

    “Being in the US, which was my aunt second home, is very important. It means remembering her both in Italy, where she was born and raised, and in America, where she worked and had the opportunity to focus on her research that allowed her to win the Nobel Prize.”

    Piera Levi Montalcini was very attached to her aunt Rita and during the speech she said she was fascinated by her work, her willpower, her great insights and her ability to remember many things at the same time.

    “I had the opportunity to live and work with her and trough my experience with her I want to keep alive her memory and bring her message to the young generations, who she cared a lot about” said Montalcini. “Her message included the words: effort and commitment, willpower, optimism, look at the future and never give up.”

    Rita Levi Montalcini was first of all a woman who was able to achieve her goals with great dedication even though she lived the brutal reality of fascism and Jewish persecution. “Aunt Rita,” concluded Piera Levi Montalcini, “represented the emblem of a woman, who, without rejecting her identity as a woman trying to emulate men, continued to follow her path and fight for her rights, her intellectual abilities and her will to demonstrate that women are physically different from men but intellectually speaking they are all the same.”

  • Life & People

    "Art" at First Sight

    They say you never forget your first love. Well, this girl definitely hasn’t. She is Italian, she loves New York but most of all she loves art. Giorgia Brugnoli is a very talented and creative fine artist and graphic designer whith a passion for art in all its forms and expressions. Born in Rome, after seeing an exhibition about Keith Haring at the age of 7, she fell in love with his works and decided that she wanted to “art” happily ever after. Because of her skills, tenacity and determination she pursued the career of her dreams in the city where dreams come true: New York City. She is currently working as a graphic designer for MA3, an established advertising agency based in Midtown Manhattan.

    We interviewed Giorgia because we wanted her to tell us more about her love story with art and design.

    1. Giorgia, tell us a little about yourself and your background.

    I am a fine artist and graphic designer. I have always been passionate about art and illustration, thanks to my mom who encouraged me and my sister to make any kind of art, from painting to sculpting to collaging etc since I was very young. This was the reason why, after highschool graduation, the most natural choice was to go to an Art Institute. I graduated from IED (European Institute of Design) with a major in Advertising and Graphic Design, which to me is a good mix to pursue a creative career. While I was in college, during my Sophomore year I attended the Spring Semester at the School of Visual Arts in New York City on the International Exchange Program. I have been working for a while now as a multimedia artist and I have mostly worked in New York and Italy, as a freelance.

    2. Which projects did you realize during your career? Something in particular you want to tell us about?

    Well, first of all, my main goal was to move to the place that I love the most, New York City, and being able to work and have a life here. I have learnt a lot from this city, especially from an artistic point of view thanks to the many exhibitions, galleries, museums, street art etc that we are exposed to everyday. Another big accomplishment was to affirm myself in the art world not only as a graphic designer but mostly as an illustrator, because drawing is part of my everyday life and that is what I would like to do for living, eventually. The last but not least accomplishment was to see my work used for one of the main art events in the world: Art Basel in Miami Beach in December 2013.

    3. Why and when did you choose to come to New York City?

    When I was 7 I went to an exhibition about Keith Haring and totally fell in love with his work. New York has been a dream ever since, because he lived here too and I just wanted to experience that kind of art world and reach his success (easy to say!). Then, when I came to New York to go to SVA, those months gave me the chance to find a deeper relationship with Art and Graphic Design, and to know people who were committed and passionate like me. By that time, I just knew that New York City was the place to be in order to pursue a certain career and to reach a higher knowledge of art.

    4. What does it mean to be an Italian graphic designer in New York?

    Working in New York as an italian graphic designer is a tough but fulfilling experience. First of all, you're apart from your beloved and that's the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with. There's a lot of talented people from all over the world and you really struggle to stand out sometimes. That's what keeps you dynamic, creative and curious though, and here is where the fulfilling part comes. Italy is hard too, but it's a type of competition that doesn't make you a better artist, it just makes you angry and envious because most of the people that I know only care about having a job, they don't care about being fulfilled with what they do. New York has a lot to offer because you are always surrounded by people who are committed and serious about their jobs (in the design and art field at least). I don't feel like that in Italy, and this means to me that working there wouldn't be as stimulating. Beside all of this, I am extremely grateful for having been raised in Rome: I have a great family, very good friends, and I have had an amazing school education. What I learnt there has a strong influence on my work today and I wouldn't be the person I am without the crazy amount of things I studied in school. I think that Italy gave me a better background than what any other country would've done. And I think that all the Italians who moved abroad feel the same.

    6. Any projects for the future?

    In my next future I am planning to apply for an artist visa and stay in the U.S. in order to build a life here. I am very much focused on this and I will do my best to make it happen. I want to keep working as a multimedia artist, reading as many books as I can, make art, see art and be happy and love.

  • Events: Reports

    Remembering Rita Levi Montalcini

    Remember to never forget. On February 4th, the Italian Cultural Institute together with the Centro Primo Levi of New York will celebrate “Il Giorno Della Memoria” (Remembrance Day) will present The Liberty of knowledge: Remembering Rita Levi Montalcini. The event is entirely dedicated to one of Italy’s greatest Jewish scientists, the Nobel Prize winner Rita Levi Montalcini, who died last December at the age of 103.

    Levi Montalcini was an Italian neurologist born into a traditional Jewish family. During the fascist regime and especially after the promilgation of the racial laws in 1938, she was not allowed to work. However, because of her tenacity, determination and passion for science she continued to carry out her research hiding in her bedroom. After the war, she estabished herself as one the most compelling woman scientists in history. In 1950 she discovered the first nerve growth factor, NGF. Her finding led to the identification of many growth factors, which have greatly influenced developmental biology, neuroscience, immunology and cancer. She has been an inspiration for many generations of scientists, overcoming obstacles due to gender, religion and war.

    The event is divided in two sessions. The first one, Exploring nerve growth Factor, will start at 9am at the Italian Cultural Institute and will have opening remarks by the Director Riccardo Viale. The second one, A Young Jewish Scientist in Fascist Italy, will be held from 5pm to 8pm at the Center for Jewish History with remarks by Alessandro Di Rocco (NYU, CPL), Alain Elkann (writer and scholar), Piera Montalcini (Levi Montalcini Association), Annalisa Capristo (Center for American Studies, Rome) and Antonino Cattaneo (Fondazione Ebri).

    i-Italy interviewed Natalia Indrimi, Director of the Centro Primo Levi and one of the coordinator of this initiative.

    How this initiative was born? Why did you choose to remember Rita Levi Montalcini?

    One of the core interests of Centro Primo Levi is the intersection between the humanities, science and ethics, a ground that we have shared with Riccardo Viale since he took on the directorship of the Italian Cultural Institute. Both for our Board and for Prof. Viale, Rita Levi Montalcini is a symbol of intellectual attitude, political commitment and historical awareness. The project flourished almost naturally from this confluence of visions. The program itself was then shaped by Moses Chao (NYU) and our board members Lice Ghilardi (CUNY) and Alessandro Di Rocco (NYU).

    Can you briefly explain which will be the themes of the discussion panel?

    We divided the program in two sessions, one strictly scientific in the morning and the second dedicated to Dr. Montalcini's life experience and the significance of her work for the world at large. The first will gather a group of preeminent colleagues of Rita Levi Montalcini who will discuss the Nerve Growth Factor, her discovery and the developments that stemmed from it. In the evening, at the Center for Jewish History, we will explore her experience as a young Jewish scientists in fascist Italy and her work in the immediate post-war years in the US. Historian Annalisa Capristo, the main expert on the persecution of Jewish academics in fascist Italy, and Dr. Montalcini's close colleague Antonino Cattaneo (Ebri Foundation) will reconstruct that period from both a historical and scientific perspective. We are also pleased to have Dr. Montalcini's niece, Piera Levi Montalcini and writer Alain Elkann offering personal remarks on this extraordinary woman whose influence transcended national and generational borders. We will also show a rare and absolutely inspiring interview with Rita Levi Montalcini produced by the Centro Nazionale del Cinema.

    How do you think the story and the work of such great woman impacted the Jewish community?

    Perhaps the question could be reversed, Rita Levi Montalcini was, among other things, the product of a very unique Italian Jewish experience and intellectual tradition. Her influence however, is universal. An element that always impressed me as exquisitely talmudic, was her understanding of hybridity, imperfection and adaptation as key elements of motion and evolution; her idea that the human being can always compensate creatively for the limitations of its epistemological instruments.

    What can we learn from her experience?

    Dr. Montalcini was known not only for her extraordinary scientific work but also as a political presence for her belief that constructive criticism is an essential contribution to democracy. She fought important battles when she was almost 100 and won them. In 2001 she became Senator of the Italian Parliament and she was able to offer strength and inspiration at a time when others had lost sight of the facts that liberty, ethics and justice cannot be negotiated or compromised.

    Rita Levi Montalcini experienced first hand the disastrous effect that fascism had on Italian scientific and public life. Censorship. repression, nepotism and lack of civil liberties turned a country that during the 1920s had produced a promising generation of scholars and very advanced institutions, into one in which thinking and seeking knowledge was no longer possible. The immense loss of human resources caused by the regime's fanaticism interrupted at its heart the growth of the young Italian society. After the war, Dr. Montalcini found her way to the United States where many of her colleagues had previously fled. Here she conducted her seminal research. Through this experience, she matured the idea that Italy should reconstruct an environment in which knowledge was not only possible but necessary to ground the democratic institutions. She returned to Italy and worked in that direction for the rest of her life. All scholars working in Italy know that there is still a long way to go and that the void of teaching and the void of memory is a legacy that has not been fully confronted. However, her example and her ability to appreciate and nourish young talents and cultural traits set what I regard as an indispensable standard, not only in Italy but everywhere.

    ---

    Simposium. The program at the Italian Cultural Institute, 686 Park Avenue, NY, is free and open to the public.
    9 am to 1 pm

    Exploring Nerve Growth Factor

    Italian Cultural Institute, 686 Park Avenue, NY, (10 am to 1 pm)

    Opening remarks: Riccardo Viale (ICI)

    Introduction: Moses Chao (NYU)

    Speakers: Piergiorgio Strata (National Institute of Neuroscience-Italy), Ralph Bradshaw (UC/Irvine), Ruth Angeletti (Albert Einstein), Lloyd Greene (Columbia University).

    Conclusions: Eric Kandel (Nobel Prize, Columbia University).

    5 pm to 8 pm

    A Young Jewish Scientist in Fascist Italy

    Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York

    Opening remarks: Alessandro Di Rocco (NYU, CPL)

    Introduction: Alain Elkann (writer and scholar)

    Speakers: Piera Montalcini (Levi Montalcini Association), Annalisa Capristo (Center for American Studies, Rome), Antonino Cattaneo (Fondazione Ebri).


  • Events: Reports

    The Italian Dream in The US


    Yesterday, January 28th, 2014, the Calandra Italian American Institute of New York hosted an event entirely dedicated to young Italian who moved to the Big Apple in search of a better future. Co-sponsored by ILICA, the panel “I Giovani D’Italia: Living Italy in New York,” drove into the new phenomenon of the “brain drain,” or “brain relocation,” as the Director of the Calandra Institute Prof. Anthony J. Tamburri wanted to specify referring to the words of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


    The migration phenomenon has marked Italy’s political and social history throughout the XX century. Even if society has changed because of globalization, which has improved the technological and communication sector, the reasons for leaving, economic crisis and unemployment, are pretty similar. However, both the initial and the new generations of Italian immigrants share the same dream: building a better future outside a country that right now is not able to guarantee one to them.


    Four examples of young Italians who moved to the US to follow this dream were the panelists who yesterday discussed their experience as Italian immigrants in New York City:


    Emanuele Tozzi is a young artist and musician and Italian attorney from a small town in the Abruzzo region who moved to the US in 2006. After a couple of years in Aspen, Colorado, he decided to come to New York City to continue his career in the music field.


    “It’s a big challenge to try to bring my roots and the smell of my region into this country. But I have hope and I am here to persist in this dream I have,” says Emanuele. “ I love this country because it gives you a sense of freedom. I think New York in particular gives you the chance to discover yourself. It shows your fragilities and your strenghts. In my opinion, this is the biggest challenge but it’s essential to succeed in your career.”


    Sofia Falleroni, from the Marche region, left Italy in 2005 and came to to the US to study. First in Boston and then in New York, her dream was to pursue a music career but she ended up being a real estate broker and she loves it.


    “I feel American society stands on a very meritocratic system compared to Italy. At least people here give you an opportunity. Even though the competition, especially in New York, is very high, this pushes you to improve all the time,” affirms Sofia.


    Gianpiero Pagliaro is a young manager from Cosenza, in the Calabria region. He moved to the US in 2006. After a year in South Carolina he moved to New York where he started his experience at the Italian American Chamber of Commerce and became also a member of the executive board of ILICA.


    “ I just wanted to study English for three months,” says Gianpiero, who never thought he was going to stay in the US. But he changed his mind. “This is an environment in which you can still dream. And you find a lot of people that are willing to help you to pursue your dream.”


    Federico Frangiamore is a professional golfer and a golf instructor from Pordenone, near Venice. He moved to New York last year. Golf has always been his dream career. Now he is teaching to both adults and children who share his same passion for this sport.


    “I love the attention that this country has in regards to sport and most of all the activities that schools dedicate to it,” says Federico whose goal, as an Italian in the US, is now “to teach to Americans the Italian way to play golf.”


    While sharing with the audience their experience , each of these young and talented Italian professionals exhibited their sadness when talking about the current situation of their country. For them, as for many like them, numerous things have changed in their life. The one thing that will never change is their identity, their pride of being Italian no matter what. And most important, as Gianpiero pointed out, they will never give up Italian food over fast food!


  • Events: Reports

    The Italian “King of the Blues” Warms Up the US

    USA- Famous Italian Superstar Zucchero “Sugar” Fornaciari opens the New Year with a bang. In occasion of the new release of his latest album, La Sesión Cubana, on February 18th via Manhattan Records, the Italian “King of the Blues” and one of Europe’s best-selling artists, will be on tour in the US and Canada beginning at the end of March.

    The new album, which represents the blues-rock singer’s dream of recording in Cuba with the best native musicians in Havana, was produced by Zucchero and Don Was, and mixed by Michael Brauer.

    La Sesión Cubana includes seven new songs, as well as six newly arranged versions of Zucchero's European hits such as "Baila," "Un Kilo," "Così Celeste," "Cuba Libre," "Everybody's Got To Learn Sometime," and "L'Urlo."

    The new recordings feature "Guantanamera (Guajira), original compositions "Love Is All Around" and "Sabor a ti," and the covers "Never Is a Moment," "Nena," "Pana"(a duet with Spanish singer Bebe), and "Ave Maria No Morro" — a duet with Brazilian star Djavan.

    With these songs, recorded virtually live in the studio, Zucchero explores the roots of American music with a special “flavor latino.”

    "My music comes from blues, from soul, and from gospel," Zucchero says. "This project is a trip from New Orleans to Cuba via Mexicali. Latin, Cuban, and Tex-Mex sounds and rhythms melt together dancing. Hasta l'asta siempre."

    Furthermore, Manhattan Records is releasing a deluxe CD/DVD version with the La Sesión Cubana studio CD with a two hour "Live in Havana DVD. Next March, 2014, there will also be a one hour version of The Live in Havana concert program by Public Television stations as part of their pledge programs and presented by WLIW.

    "Zucchero called and said that he wanted to go to Havana and record new versions of his songs with 'Cuban rhythms and Tex-Mex guitars,'" says Don Was. "I had no idea what he was talking about but it sounded like high adventure. After recording two other albums with him over the last decade [2006's Fly and 2010's Chocabeck], I'd learned that Zu is a magnificent and visionary artist and that his instincts are golden. So we headed to Havana on blind faith and, sure enough, his unique brand of Popular Italian Soul Music blended seamlessly with the incredible band of Cuban All-Stars who'd gathered in the studio to cut tracks with us. In the end, great music always transcends cultural boundaries and the record turned out brilliantly. Zu's cover of Malo's hit, 'Nena,' is one of my favorites. I've loaded it into my alarm clock because it makes me wake up feeling good every morning."

    During his career, Zucchero sold over 50 million albums all over the world, becoming one of the most acclaimed Italian voices of the blues genre. A life of successes that brought him to win many awards including two World Music Awards and six IFPI Europe Platinum Awards, and a nomination, 2007, for a Grammy Award in the Traditional R&B Vocal category for "You Are So Beautiful" the song he performed on alongside Sam Moore, Billy Preston, Eric Clapton and Robert Randolph. He has also performed at The Royal Albert Hall in London, the Kremlin in Moscow, and Carnegie Hall in New York, and he has recorded and toured with artists like Eric Clapton, Andrea Bocelli, Luciano Pavarotti, Miles Davis, John Lee Hooker, Sting, and Solomon Burke.

    For more information about the upcoming tour in the US and Canada, visit the official webpage

  • Life & People

    IN THE CITY WHERE DREAMS COME TRUE. Building Lives in New York City

    Bringing an architect to New York is like bringing a child to an adventure park. The Big Apple is the symbol par excellence of modern architecture and it’s the city where dreams come true. And it really became the dream of Giorgio Villa, a young and talented Italian architect who moved to New York to follow his passion.

    Born in Bergamo, near Milan, Giorgio studied architecture at the prestigious Academy of Architecture of Mendrisio, in Switzerland, an international Institution where important architects from all over the world teach and form new talents in this field. After graduating in 2009, he had the opportunity to go to Tokyo, Japan, where he worked for the studio of Sou Fujimoto, one of the most compelling contemporary architects in the world.

    After this incredible and exciting experience in Japan, he moved back to Europe and worked for a period in Switzerland, first in Zurich and then in the Engadin region. But he never stopped dreaming about New York. In Italy there is a motto: “Insist, persist and achieve.” He made these three words his own.

    Where is he now? Working for one of the most famous American architects in the international scene: Richard Meier.

    We interviewed Giorgio and asked him to tell us his enviable experience as an Italian architect in the United States.

    Giorgio, when and why did you choose to come to NY?

    I was always interested in the American culture. In particular, I always dreamed of having the opportunity to work in New York. During the spring of 2012, while I was working in Switzerland, I came here with some portfolios of my works. My intention was to find a job. When I arrived, I started to submit some applications. I did a couple of interviews including Richard Meier. After a month I was back in Europe again, they made me an offer that I accepted. Since I was studying at the University I was always fascinated by the modern architecture of the first half of the XX century and the studio of Richard Meier is one of the greatest contemporary representatives of such architecture. Therefore, there is some affinity in terms of aesthetics, architectural language and approach in general. I think this is one of the reasons why they chose me.

    What can you tell us about New York?

    Some people say that New York is the center of the universe. In some sense I agree with them. Little pieces from all over the world are grouped here, coexisting together in harmony each with their differences. Living here makes you definitely more open-minded since you have to interact with people who have a completely different background compared to yours. It’s a city full of striking sceneries linked often to a cinematographic imaginary. From a visual point of view this is extremely stimulating, especially for those who do the same job as I do. However it is really hard to describe just using words, it has to be experienced in first person. Furthermore, a great thing about New York is that it is constantly evolving and renewing itself. It is a very dynamic city. In the next few years some important interventions, such as the Hudson Yards on the west side, the new Whitney Museum near the High Line, the Word Trade Center in downtown and several other buildings will be completed, giving to New York a new skyline.

    What does it mean working with an architect of international fame such as Richard Meier?

    Working here gives me the opportunity to participate at the design and the planning of relevant buildings that will be constructed all over the world. Currently, we have projects going on in Mexico, Korea, United States, Brazil, Colombia, Italy, Germany, and Israel. Architecture is a very complex discipline that requires many years to be learned in all its components. So the fact that I am working with people who have many years of experience and numerous achievements is something that enriches me enormously. Another positive factor is that inside the studio there are people who come from all over the world: United States, Italy, Germany, Spain, France, Belgium, Korea, China, Venezuela, Colombia, Burma…so we all breathe an international atmosphere. Moreover, the quality of the works produced is very high with a great attention to all the details.

     On which projects are you working on at Richard Meier & Partners?

    At Richard Meier & Partners I am involved in several different projects such as a Hotel in Jesolo, Italy and the new headquarter for Engel & Völkers in Hamburg, Germany. My main contribution is on a large scale project in Mexico City on the Paseo de la Reforma, one of the most important streets of the city. It is a mixed-used building which consists of an office tower of 180 meters and a smaller volume that hosts a hotel, interconnected by a base of thirty meters intended for retail stores, restaurants, a fitness center and a large parking lot. The peculiarity of the tower is that it is crossed by two-thirds from a central atrium connected to the outside through two large openings, favoring natural lighting and natural ventilation. It’s a large project, with a high-level of complexity. It is a great challenge and at the same time a privilege to be able to contribute to.

  • Tourism

    A Mayor With a Mission

    The Mayor of Rome, Ignazio Marino, is now in the United States with the objective of promoting the Italian capital on a more international scale. From December 10th until today, his agenda has been full of important meetings and other initiatives between the cities of New York and Washington D.C. His mission: bring to America a little bit of Italy and bring back to Italy a little bit of America “giving back to Rome the place and the role in the world that this city deserves,” said Mayor Marino in a recent press release.

    This visit was intended to strengthen the relationship with the United States creating new channels of communication in order to increase the tourist flow into the Italian Capital and attract International investors boosting funds aimed to support the city’s artistic and cultural heritage.

    After his visit to the Big Apple, where he met important institutional authorities like the Secretary of the United Nations Ban Ki Moon, the Consul General of Italy Natalia Quintavalle and the exiting Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg, Marino flew to Washington to continue with his mission.

    This morning Mayor Marino met Vincent C. Gray, Mayor of Washington, and signed the reaffirmation of the Sister City agreement between the city of Rome, Italy, and the District of Columbia. The agreement will strengthen the exchanges between the two cities with a special focus on youth and educational exchanges, as well as on social media outreach and other forms of electronic communication, tourism, economical development and on the continuation of art and cultural exchanges.

    “I’m delighted that the District of Columbia and the city of Rome have once again reaffirmed our friendship and commitment to improving the lives of our residents,” affirmed Mayor Gray. “These types of agreements,” he continued, “are important in building the international ties that strengthen civil society and goodwill between nations. I look forward to our joint efforts and thank the Mayor of Rome for visiting our great city.”

    “I am very pleased to renew this agreement that is part of a campaign to relaunch the image of Rome in the world”, said Mayor Marino. “Rome is a World Heritage Site: it has been and continues to be a source of inspiration for artists all over the world, the set of many masterpieces of Italian and foreign cinema. This is why,” Marino concluded, “we want to protect and enhance its beauty, wealth, traditions and legacy. In this context, the agreement with Washington is an excellent opportunity for Rome to continue sharing its culture and innovation in particular to younger generations.”

    Moreover, in Washington D.C., Marino participated at the press conference for the presentation of the “Galata Morente,” the statue that Rome lent by Musei Capitolini to the National Gallery of Art of Washington. The event, part of the program known as “Dreams of Rome,” saw also the participation of the Italian Ambassador in the US, Claudio Bisognero.

  • Art & Culture

    Beware of the filmmaker!

    She is Italian, she enjoys living in Brooklyn, and she has a passion: film. We are talking about Francesca Coppola, a very talented and successful filmmaker we met to talk about one of her movies that is hitting the scenes: Flamingos.

    Milan, 1989. Set during the fall of the Berlin Wall, a period that goes down in history as the moment in which the world’s destiny changed, this short movie tells the story of a middle-class family, who is experiencing a big change as well. Alice is a nine year old girl who spends a day at the park (to see the flamingos, indeed) with her dad, Paolo, a man who is going through an identity crisis. The story digs deeply into the mind of a daughter, who perceives that something between her parents is cracking ,and of a husband, who got lost and seems to not find his way back. Francesca Coppola puts on stage the delicate relationship that exists between these two people who are connected by a string that could break at any moment altering the precarious balance on which they hung.

    Flamingos, realized in 2012, premiered at MoMa and Lincoln Center as part of New Directors/New Films and is currently touring festivals. Its creator, Francesca Coppola, is an accomplished filmmaker based in New York, and member of the Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective. After working in Italy as a producer, she moved to New York to become movie director. Flamingos is not her only project. She has worked on many feature films like Zipper, a documentary about Coney Island that was in the movie theaters this summer, and she has worked in some of the most prestigious offices in New York (such as The Weinstein Company and Robert De Niro's office at Tribeca Productions).

    We asked Francesca to unveil some curiosities about this emotional and yet very rational movie.

    How did you come up with the idea of this story?

    After living in New York for a few years, I wanted to go back to my hometown to make a film. The story is autobiographical; it’s my personal story. It comes from the memories I have growing up in Milan, and dealing with my parents’ divorce.

    Why did you set the story back in 1989? Any particular reason?

    I grew up in the late 80’s beginning of the 90’s and it was a period of political disillusionment. The Berlin Wall was the ultimate fall of a political idea that had been dead for years, and that was buried with one epic and meaningful gesture. In a sense, it mirrors the marriage of Paolo and Marianna. It’s been over for a long time, yet it ends with a resolute action: one of them leaving the house and closing the door behind. The wall crumbling down for me is a symbol that stands for the marriage ending.

    I was also interested in exploring the characters’ alienation from the world around them. There is a big political drama going on in the background, compared to which, in the eyes of history, the small drama of a family is meaningless. There is something tragically ironic about this. It happens every day in our lives, and it can be very lonely. I was interested in depicting a small dramatic event no one will remember but the few people involved on the backdrop of a bigger historical event that the protagonists barely notice.

    The hardest and the easiest thing in creating the movie.

    Dealing with such a personal story was definitely daunting. I felt very vulnerable because I was deeply involved in the project, and was afraid that other people wouldn’t care as much. But then again, this is why I make films! I like the challenge. Casting the 9-year-old version of myself and my “father” was also difficult, because I was looking for something very specific. But then I was lucky to find Sofia Cotromano and Fabio Ghidoni. They truly brought something to the project and they were incredibly supportive.

    The easiest thing… nothing was easy! ;)

    With your movie you captured a very emotional moment between a father and his daughter, even though, throughout the movie you know this emotional link will break soon. How do you think your story has impacted the audience? And you?

    It has definitely helped me process my own issues with my parents’ divorce. I remember that day the film premiered my father was there, and I realized that I never spoke to him about my feelings regarding what had happened; When the film started playing my heart was pounding. I also thought that this is why I make films; it’s my way to communicate with the people around me.

    I was very excited to see that the audience responded very well to the film. A lot of people were moved by the film, because they could relate to it. They understood what was going on.

    This is not your first movie. How did previous experiences shape you as a filmmaker and what do you think was different in the case of the Flamingos?

    My previous films were much different. “Flamingos” is the first film where I decided to tackle a personal story and take some more risks. I think I had gotten to a point where I wanted my work to be more of a reflection of myself. Having had plenty of experience on set as a director has definitely helped me not make the same mistakes. But you always make mistakes! So hopefully I’ll do an even better one next!

    Flamingos has been presented at MoMa and at Lincoln Center and it's gaining success. Do you think you would want to continue working in Italy or in the US? Where do you think it’s easier to work?

    Working in Italy is much different. I don’t know if it’s easier or harder. I think that wherever you are you can strive to make meaningful and engaging work, which is never easy and always challenging. I’m lined up to work on a few projects here now, so I’d like to stay and then go back to Italy later.

    Are you working on future projects?

    Yes! I’m writing a feature script based on the life of photographer Francesca Woodman, it’s a coming of age story. As a producer, I’m also looking forward to continue working on Zipper, a documentary about Coney Island, and on a new project called “Evaporating Borders”, about immigration in Cyprus.

    Flamingos is a deep emotional story about a loss. A loss that marks people’s life but that is something everyone experience to become the persons they are today and who found their path through life. And we can definitely say that Francesca found that way.

  • Art & Culture

    Giacomo Leopardi Speaks English

    After six years of studies and seven years to translate it, finally, Giacomo Leopardi’s “Zibaldone” lands in the US thanks to Farrar, Straus & Giroux, one of the most prestigious literary publishing houses in North America.

    Yesterday The Italian Cultural Institute of New York organized a round table inviting the team of critics, linguistics and scholars who worked together at the translation of the manuscripts of one of the greatest literary representatives of the XIX century.

    The “Zibaldone,” also defined as a “hodge-podge” by Harold Bloom, is sort of a diary, a collection of Leopardi’s annotations and literary, critical and philosophical reflections that the author makes in response to his readings.

    This literary masterpiece also includes comments that touch a wide range of fields of different nature including linguistics, history, anthropology, astronomy and psychology, showing the enormous intellectual stature of the Italian poet.

    The translation of Leopardi’s “Zibaldone” was realized under the supervision of Franco D’Intino and Michael Caesar of the Leopardi Center at the University of Birmingham, both present at the round table. The event at the Italian Cultural Institute saw also the participation of other academic professionists who collaborated at the project and who where there to give more insights and discuss their methods of approaching Leopardi’s work. Among the speakers: Jonathan Galassi, President of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Margaret Brose, Professor at the University of Santa Cruz, Nicola Gardini, Professor at the University of Oxford and Ann Goldstein, editor and famous translator.

    The panel was introduced by the Director of The Italian Cultural Institute of New York, Riccardo Viale, who briefly discussed the importance of the “Zibaldone” from a philosophical and anthropological perspective. Afterwards, each of the lecturers read, in both Italian and English, some excerpts chosen from the Leopardi’s "Zibaldone," commenting and analyzing the greatness of such work and how both the opera and its author have influenced modern literature and modern society.

    “This is one of the longest book we ever published, the most ambitious, and the one of which I am the most proud of,” said Jonathan Galassi, talking about the greatness of Leopardi’s poetry which he really appreciates since it’s not his first time approaching the works of the Italian poet.

    “The Zibaldone is the accurate reflection of the breadth and depth of his mind,” he concludes before introducing the other speakers.

    “There is, in the Zibaldone, a variety of subjects, languages. It’s a constant dialogue with hundreds of authors and himself. So this book is cahotic, unfinished, incoherent, non systematic,” said Franco D’Intino, who highlighted the phylosophycal perspective of the book and its author.
     

    “Zibaldone is a work in progress,” said Michael Caesar, who talked more about the constant effort that took them to publish the English version of the book, deepening also into the several strategies that are used when it comes to translate such enormous literary material.  
     

    The English version, and very accurate one, of the “Zibaldone” is a great publication, a literary phenomenon that will give to the world the opportunity of understand and appreciate one of the greates Italian thinkers ever existed.

  • Facts & Stories

    Lella Golfo , Story of a Woman Supporting Other Women

    On November 25th, Lella Golfo, Italian journalist, politician, entrepreneur and President of the Marisa Bellisario Foundation, presented in New York her last book, “Ad Alta Quota,” a story about work rights for women. The presentation took place at the Italian Cultural Institute of New York in occasion of the International Day for the elimination of violence against women.

    The panel at The Italian Cultural Institute was moderated by Mario Calvo Platero from Il Sole 24 Ore and saw also the participation of Mariafrancesca Carli from JP Morgan, Elisabetta Bartoloni from Heidrick & Struggles, Ilaria Costa from Iace, Monica Ermacosa from Bvlgari, Luigi Gubitosi from Rai and Stefano Lucchini from Eni. Also the Consul General Natalia Quintavalle attended the meeting with the author of the book.

    “This book is a love message towards women and towards politics,” says Lella, telling that the women cause was something she always cared about since she was a young girl. Indeed, in her book, the author explains how she started her fight to defend women’s rights when she was just 18 tears old, supporting the women of her beloved Calabria region who asked to have boots to wear while working in the fields. A social battle that culminated when she arrived at the Parliament, in 2008, introducing the famous law in regards to the so-called “quote rosa” (an essential tool to increase the presence of women within public societies listed in the stock exchange), approved in 2011.

    “Thanks to the approval of my law, now, in Italy, the number of women who are part of the administrative committee has increased by a 17.2%, while in the US is still at 14%. This demonstrates that for once, Italy, in regards to equality issues, is ahead,” affirms Ms. Golfo.

    With this book, “Ad Alta Quota,” Lella Golfo tells her experience, her political and personal efforts “to change a little part of the world” and bring women to vertexes of power. However, she concludes reminding that women have still a lot of work to do and battles to fight. As long as they stay together and together stand out for their rights.

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