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February 2019 - Extras: New Mexico Italian Film Festival

The NM Italian Film and Culture Festival, the State’s premier festival celebrating Italian cinema and culture, has announced the full program of films and events for its 12th-anniversary festival. “We’re set to launch the best festival of our entire 12-year run,” said Festival Director, Dan Puccetti. “Included in our film lineup are several award-winning and highly-acclaimed recent films that haven’t yet made the rounds of Italian film festivals in the US. And included in our events are some great new features, new menus, and new performers. It’s shaping up to be one for the record books.”

The NM Italian Film & Culture Festival is the annual flagship event of Italian Festivals of New Mexico (IFNM), a not for profit 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to raise awareness and appreciation of Italian cinema, culture, and heritage in New Mexico. IFNM’s fundraising efforts are primarily dedicated to improving the lives of children in New Mexico. From the proceeds of the past eleven festivals, IFNM has donated over $320,000 to community organizations that serve children.

Festival 2019 offers a front row seat to contemporary Italy as seen through the eyes of today’s best Italian screenwriters and directors. The festival’s film selection team works year-round screening, selecting and assembling the lineup. This year they’ve outdone themselves with the inclusion of several market premieres and audience favorites fresh from the prestigious Cannes Film Festival 2018. These are high-grossing box office hits in Italy that will screen in New Mexico for the first time. Festival spokesperson, Maria Arancio Berry comments, “There’s a saying in Italian – tutto il mondo e`paese – used to express the concept that the world is the same wherever you go. These films really capture that point. They are timely cinematic commentaries on universal issues and topics of today – all from an engaging Italian perspective!”

The festival’s opening night comedy, Benedetta follia (Blessed Madness), is one such film. A huge hit with more than 1.3 million Italian filmgoers, it stars its renowned director, Carlo Verdone, in the story of Guglielmo, a religious man and faithful husband who gets dumped by his wife of 25 years. In an effort to forget her, he signs up on an Internet dating app, and embarks on a hilarious learning curve about modern-day dating and relationships.

2019’s showcase film, Come un gatto in tangenziale (Like a Cat on a Highway), also screened at Cannes, was the #1 Italian box office hit in 2018, and it’s one that’s just now beginning to show up on the rosters of a number of 2019 film festivals in the US. It’s a multi award-winning comedy, worthy of its festival showcase, best-of-the-best, status. Come un gatto is the tale of Monica and Giovanni, parents from different socio-economic worlds who are awkwardly brought together when their young teenagers begin dating each other.

Completing the list of Cannes market screenings and premieres in the festival lineup is Io c’e’ (Just Believe) a comedy starring Italy’s top actress, Margherita Buy, that charms and tickles with the story of Massimo who transforms his B&B into a place of worship, and invents a new religion.

While comedy is front and center in the 2019 festival program, it’s not the only genre on tap. You’ll laugh and cry with Alessandro and Giorgio in Tutto quello che vuoi (Everything You Want) when young Giorgio forms an unlikely bond with elderly poet, Alessandro, who has Alzheimer’s. You’ll find romance in In guerra per amore (At War with Love), a tender love story set in 1943 when Allied forces landed in Sicily. And you’ll find mystery and an environmental message in Finché c’é prosecco c’é speranza (The Last Prosecco). All 7 films plus 1 free, bonus documentary are in Italian with English subtitles.

Festival 2019 also includes events in conjunction with the films being shown this year. L’inaugurazione (Opening Night) will be sponsored and catered by Torinos’ at Home Trattoria Italiana & Caffe with a buffet featuring the restaurant’s signature “fresh takes” on classic Italian fare. The Gran Finale Dining Experience – Italian Meets Greek will be hosted by the festival’s new title

sponsor, Nick & Jimmy’s, at the award-winning restaurant where the live opera arias of local soprano Ashli Saenz will add some Italian magic to the upscale Greek atmosphere and enhance the final dinner’s Italian/Greek menu. By popular demand, the festival’s Friday night event will again be catered by IFNM’s Board VP and (in real life) local boutique caterer, Michelle Michelotti Martinez. Entitled Michela’s Bistro, the event will introduce event-goers to the apericena. A growing trend in Italy, the apericena (formed by combining the Italian word for dinner – cena – with the word aperitivo) is a light dinner, often served buffet-style, comprised of a variety of appetizers and a glass of wine. Michela’s Bistro apericena will feature a variety of scratch-made small-bites enjoyed in a traditional Italian bistro setting with Italian accordion melodies provided by notable New Mexico accordionist, Dick Steichen.

The 2019 NM Italian Film & Culture festival is a benefit for the children of NDI New Mexico, with all films and events, except for the final dinner, held at the historic Hiland Theater – home of NDI New Mexico. Full Schedule and Tickets are available at

tWitch Cover Story
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