The New Italian Cinema film festival at Embarcadero Center opened with the heartwarming family comedy Kryptonite! by writer/director Ivan Cotroneo, who appeared in person along with his lead actress Valeria Golino. Golino appeared also as the honoree of the festival as she makes her directorial debut with Vi Perdono. She bases her upcoming film on the book about a woman who makes her living by assisting suicide. One day she gets a request from a healthy person.
Golino showed a clip and seems to be maintaining her humor, gentleness, warmth, Mediterranean free spirit and compassion as she starts directing. However she seems to be maturing past her titilating roles while maintaining an integrity or that willingness to venture into controversial or taboo territory. She still addresses the unconventional and matters of the heart.
Related: New Italian Film Festival opens with Golino’s Kryptonite!
Meanwhile. Kryptonite! may just be the best thing she’s ever done, it’s such a wonderful, uplifting and heartwarming story about how what makes a person different is a superpower. She and Cotroneo have been friends for a long time, she said.
Cotroneo is a screenwriter and lovingly wrote his directorial debut, Kryptonite! which he admits is autobiographical. He like the young boy in the film watching the world of the 1970s, went along for the wild ride with older family members. He wanted to be one of them. He took great pains to set the tone with music, saying his big expenditure was getting the David Bowie song for the opening scene. There’s a love scene at a beach house with an old-fashioned girl and he uses a song from the 1950s for that. He gets a great new version of Tina Sinatra’s These Boots are Made for Walkin’ as well, an anthem for a feminist stance or one of asserting one’s independence.
Cotroneo clarified the story is about growing up different, not about growing up gay as the boy is too young to have sexual feelings one way or the other. The confusion came up because one of the characters who is like a benevolent big brother to the boy has some gender orientation confusion. He mainly just thinks of himself as different somehow, as Superman. Letting what others think of you when you are different is a weakness, a debilitating vulnerability as the evil mineral Kryptonite is to Superman. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy and we need to keep in mind we are of value in our own right not just our own mind. Don’t let those evil minerals get you down.
Cotroneo did some stand-up comedy in describing how his double identity works, being the screenwriter and the director. He joked about how the director just focused on the movie and went beyond the screenplay so that the film contains things not in the screenplay. Since the director was not faithful to the letter of the screenplay they no longer speak.
Golino in turn at the opening night of the New Italian Cinema festival told how she bought the rights from an unknown female writer only to discover that the writer is actually a well known mail writer. He identified himself only after the book became a success, a year after it’s release.
Golino however looks just as she does in her Italian films and in Rain Main with Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman. The Italian/Greek talent still has long romantic curls and her sultry, playful voice. She wore a sparkly red sequined vest with pants and took a seat near the mid-to-front section of the theater before rising to speak alongside Cotroneo. Cotroneo wore a colorful tie and a suit and posed for a few pictures in the lobby after. Golino got on a plane back to Rome to finish her film so she was not present for the next night’s feature, her film Respiro. That was shot on film unlike the rest of the features of the festival. The Embarcadero Landmark theater has converted all but one of it’s theaters to digital and left only one with a projector.
Respiro takes place on a timeless remote Italian island where the locals get fed up with the antics of a free spirited young mother and want to send her away to a hospital in Milan. Her young son who is coming of age devises a clever plan to save her. Surprisingly it’s not that funny, it’s not a farce. It turns serious as the islanders, most of whom rely on the fishing and canning industry, can no longer tolerate her childlike ways. Since it’s actually not a tropical vacation but more down to Earth and real, Respiro moves at a slow pace like island life that San Franciscans or city folk may get impatient with and comes with a dreamy ending that looks like an art film.
Armandino and Il Madre
Golino on opening night showed a short she directed, Armandino and Il Madre, shot in a Naples art museum Il Madre before it shut down due to lack of funds she said. The government whether left or right has no money. At the time the museum had no heat. Yet she’s a good sport and it’s a romantic farce featuring a young gypsy boy who has since moved to Bosnia with his family. Golino said she looked at hundreds and he just seemed like a prince. He plays a clever and entrepreneurial younger brother who devises a scheme to help his love-smitten older brother, a handsome gypsy, win back his beautiful girlfriend who works as an art restorer at the museum.
Golino praised the sponsor of the film, a pasta company which only asked to be identified as the sponsor and did not insist on product placement in the film. It’s a new tradition says Golino, which she started and will be followed by Kate Winslet as director. All the sponsor asks is that the film feature Naples, where Golino also happens to be from.
Voters at the film festival will determine the winner, who will be announced at the closing party on Sunday night, November 18, 2012. The public may purchase tickets.
The festival also presents another family story with the documentary about a controversial grandma who used to rule the world of knitwear in post-war Europe. Duccio Chiarini’s Hit the Road, Nonna (2012). The director is expected.
Another directorial debut by an Italian actress will be The Cherry on the Cake, in French, by Laura Morante. Closing Night: Cherry on the Cake by Laura Morante, 2012, France, 85 minutes. Sunday, Nov. 18 at 6:30 and 9:15 p.m.
Film tickets $11 for SFFS members, $13 general, $12 seniors, students and persons with disabilities; Opening Night film and party $20 for SFFS members, $25 general. Fall Season Cinevisa $450. Box office opens October 3 for members and October 5 for the general public online at www.sffs.org.
CineVoucher pack $105 SFFS members/$125 non-members for ten films
Memberships range from $60 to $900
Landmark Embarcadero Center Cinema is at One Embarcadero Center, Promenade Level, San Francisco, CA 94111. (415) 267-4893. Easy walk from Embarcadero BART. No bike racks but there are parking meters.
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