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Articles by: Kayla Pantano

  • Facts & Stories

    Pope Francis Welcomes Trump to Vatican

    Pope Francis welcomed President Trump to the Vatican on Wednesday morning, a highly anticipated first face-to-face meeting of the two leaders. Though they previously publicly clashed over immigration policies, Trump later described their meeting as “great” and “fantastic” to the Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni at Villa Taverna, the residence of the US ambassador to Rome.

    The 13th President to Visit the Vatican

    Trump arrived just after 8 am local time, accompanied by his wife, Melania, and eldest daughter, Ivanka, the former honoring her host nation by wearing Italian label Dolce and Gabbana. His senior advisor, Jared Kushner; Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson; National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster; White House Director of Social Media Dan Scavino: and Hope Hicks, Trump’s longest-serving political aide, were also present.

    Francis greeted Trump in Sala del Tronetto, the room of the little throne, on the second floor of Apostolic Palace. When the men shook hands, Trump said, “It is a great honor to be here.” After posing for photographs, they moved into the Pope’s private study joined only by an interpreter. Francis, in white papal dress with a pectoral cross on a chain around his neck, sat behind his desk while Trump, in a dark suit, white shirt, and navy striped tie, took the single chair across from him. The meeting ended a half hour later when Francis rang the bell.

    According to a statement from the Vatican, the two held "cordial discussions" in "an exchange of views on various themes relating to international affairs and the promotion of peace in the world through political negotiation and interreligious dialogue, with particular reference to the situation in the Middle East and the protection of Christian communities.”

    It continued to read, “It is hoped that there may be serene collaboration between the state and the Catholic Church in the United States, engaged in service to the people in the fields of health care, education, and assistance to immigrants.”

    A Peaceful Parting

    Following the talks, the Pontiff was introduced to members of Trump's delegation. As is tradition, the two then exchanged gifts. Francis gave Trump a medallion inscribed with an olive branch by a Roman artist as a symbol of peace, to which the President responded, “We can use peace.” The Pope also presented him with three books, which he said he sends to all Catholics, on family, the joy of the Gospels, and the "care of our common home, the environment." He also handed out rosaries to members of Trump’s retinue.

    In return, the President gave the Pope a first-edition set of writings by Martin Luther King Jr. and a bronze sculpture titled "Rising Above" that the White House said "represents hope for a peaceful tomorrow." Upon their farewell, Trump said as they shook hands, "I will never forget what you said to me.”

    Trump’s Quest to Promote Tolerance

    Trump’s visit to the cradle of Roman Catholicism follows stops in Saudi Arabia and Israel, capping a tour of the ancestral homes of three of the world’s major religions in an effort to cooperate against extremism.

    Prior to his encounter with the Italian Premier, he met Italian President Sergio Mattarella at the Quirinal Palace. At the end of the day, he left Rome to fly to Brussels. However, he is set to return to Italy but further south in Taormina, Sicily, for the G7 Summit on May 26.

    Moments before taking off for Brussels, Trump tweeted: “Honor of a lifetime to meet His Holiness Pope Francis. I leave the Vatican more determined than ever to pursue PEACE in our world.”

  • Art & Culture

    Il Bello Marcello: A Celebration of an Italian Icon

    Coined the “Latin lover,” the late actor, Marcello Mastroianni, epitomized onscreen masculinity and was the symbol of postwar Italian cinema for over fifty years. Though he made his screen debut in 1947, it was not until 1960 with the premiere of Fellini’s La Dolce Vita when he gained international stardom. This role as a womanizing tabloid reporter played into his raunchy reputation that he humbly denied for years.

    Nonetheless, he continued to allure audiences with the many diverse roles he embodied, from a scheming cuckold in Divorce Italian Style (1961) to a gay man living in Mussolini’s Italy in A Special Day (1977). In fact, he was nominated for an Academy Award for both, even winning a Golden Globe for the former. He was also nominated for an Academy Award for Dark Eyes (1987), which won him the best actor prize at Cannes. And this achievement is not an unfamiliar one for him, previously winning it in 1970 for The Pizza Triangle. To this day he remains one of only three actors to win this award twice.

    Mastroianni’s much-heralded career spanned 160 films, in which he often starred alongside the likes of Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren, Yves Montand, and Jack Lemmon. Though he was a Fellini regular, he also gave singular performances for international auteurs like Michelangelo Antonioni, Marco Bellocchio, Vittorio De Sica, Luchino Visconti, Jacques Demy, Raúl Ruiz, and Robert Altman.

    More than 20 years after his death from pancreatic cancer, The Film Society of Lincoln Center is honoring his excellence in a 28-film restrospective, entitled Il Bello Marcello, running from May 17-31. Presented in association with the Ministry of Culture of Italy and organized by Florence Almozini and Dan Sullivan and by Camilla Cormanni and Paola Ruggiero of Istituto Luce Cinecittà, all screenings will take place at the Walter Reade Theater (165 W 65th Street). Opening with Hungry for Love (1960), see the highlights below, or click here for the full schedule.

    Il Bello Marcello: Marcello Mastroianni Career Retrospective

    Big Deal on Madonna Street (1958)
    May 17, 9:00pm and May 20, 1:00pm

    This raucously entertaining caper comedy is the original—and arguably greatest—heist spoof (like a boisterous Italian Rififi played for laughs). Mastroianni is one among a ragtag group of petty criminals—including Vittorio Gassman as a washed-up boxer and Totò as the lone professional in the group—who hatch a seemingly foolproof plan to rob a pawnshop. But the gang proves better at cracking wise than at cracking safes. From the impeccably tossed-off one-liners to the hilariously botched break-in climax, this is commedia all’italiana at its very best.

    La Dolce Vita (1960)
    May 20, 3:15pm and May 29, 3:30pm

    Fellini’s intoxicating portrayal of social and cultural decadence in postwar Rome is at once a lavishly picaresque romp and a jarringly wistful fable about the spiritual complications that follow from extravagant pleasure, casual vice, and proximity to fame. Mastroianni is nothing short of iconic in the role of tabloid journalist Marcello Rubini, who, in the narrative span of a week, seems to glide effortlessly from party to party, social scene to social scene, woman to woman, in and out of love, heeding the paired siren calls of professional ambition and personal indulgence. Boasting Oscar-winning costumes, a timeless score by Nino Rota, a vividly memorable cast of supporting characters, and a potent blend of comedy, tragedy, and unbridled sensuality, La Dolce Vita remains a bracing, timely masterwork whose singular emotional impact is inextricably linked to the magnetism of its leading man.

    8 ½ (1963)
    May 20, 6:45pm and May 27, 4:00pm

    In Federico Fellini’s monumental landmark of Italian cinema, Mastroianni anchors an irresistible mélange of behind-the-scenes farce, marital tragicomedy, surrealist theological vignettes, poeticized flashbacks, and elaborate projections of private fantasies. Mastroianni plays hotshot filmmaker Guido Anselmi, struggling to get his latest passion project off the ground, while juggling relationships with various women. Notable for its bracing formal modernism and wry self-awareness, is at its heart a compassionate tribute to the wrenching aches and pains, and ephemeral ecstasies, of the creative process. 

    Il bell’Antonio (1960)
    May 21, 4:30pm and May 30, 2:00pm

    Mastroianni daringly subverts his suave, Euro-lover image in this caustic, black-comic critique of church, state, and masculinity. He stars as a handsome, seemingly irresistible ladies’ man, who, behind his carefully cultivated playboy image, is concealing a secret shame: he is, in fact, impotent. When word of his condition gets out, it sends everyone around him—including his parents, in-laws, priest, and new wife (Claudia Cardinale)—into an existential panic. Scripted by arch iconoclast Pier Paolo Pasolini, Il bell’Antonio plays on the knife’s edge of satire and florid melodrama—all leading to a profoundly ironic ending worthy of Sirk.

  • Indivisible - Edoardo De Angelis
    Art & Culture

    Open Roads 2017: New Italian Cinema Is Back in New York

    Unlike the vast majority of film festivals, the one up next on Manhattan’s calendar is devoted entirely to movies from a single country—in this case, il Bel Paese, or Italy. In fact for the past 17 years now, Open Roads: New Italian Cinema has been proudly offering New York audiences the most diverse and extensive lineup of contemporary Italian films. Sponsored by several Italian institutions, the mission of Open Roads is to showcase Italian cinema, providing an inside look into Italian culture, but also, of course, to garner wider distribution for its 14 feature-length films.

    As always, the series includes a mix of emerging talents and esteemed veterans, as well as both commercial and independent fare. Furthermore, it strikes a balance between outrageous comedies, gripping dramas, and captivating documentaries—all welcome alternatives to summer blockbusters. Showcasing eight North American and six New York premieres, the festival will take place from June 1-7 at the Film Society Lincoln Center - Walter Reade Theater (165 W. 65th St) and feature in-person appearances by many of the filmmakers.

    The festival will open with the New York premiere of Edoardo De Angelis’s award-winning Indivisible, a captivating tale about talented conjoined twins whose dreams for their futures start to diverge around their eighteenth birthday. The 13 additional titles set to screen include: At War with Love, acclaimed Italian TV personality Pierfrancesco Diliberto’s World War II–set satire; Federica Di Giacomo’s exorcism documentary, Deliver, which won the Orizzonti Prize at last year’s Venice Film Festival; Marco Tullio Giordana's Two Soldiers, the last in his popular organized crime trilogy; and The War of the Yokels, Davide Barletti & Lorenzo Conte's fable about a society at war, cast almost completely with children. See below for the complete lineup.

    Tickets go on sale May 4 at $9 for members, $11 for students and seniors (62+), and $14 for the general public. See more and save with the 3+ film discount package or the Open Roads All Access Pass. Learn more at filmlinc.org.

    Open Roads: New Italian Cinema is co-presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Istituto Luce Cinecittà. Organized by Dennis Lim and Dan Sullivan, Film Society; and by Carla Cattani, Griselda Guerrasio, and Monique Catalino, Istituto Luce Cinecittà. With special acknowledgments to: Italian Trade Commission; Italian Cultural Institute New York; Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò NYU; and Antonio Monda.

    Films & Descriptions

    Indivisible / Indivisibili
    Edoardo De Angelis, Italy, 2016, 104m
    Italian with English subtitles
    New York Premiere
    Thursday, June 1, 1:45pm & 6:30pm

    At first glance, identical twins Dasy and Violet (newcomers Angela and Marianna Fontana, in powerful debut performances) appear to have it all: they're beautiful, gifted with captivating singing voices, and they do not want for gigs around Naples. They also happen to be conjoined at the hip, which is shamelessly exploited by their parents and close friends for money. But on the cusp of their 18th birthday, Dasy falls in love and pursues a new life after learning she can be separated from Violet. Balancing the beautiful and the perverse with poise, and featuring a beguiling soundtrack by renowned singer-songwriter Enzo Avitabile, Edoardo De Angelis's third feature is a moving, eccentric fable about the pains of growing up, and the lengths to which one may go in order to fulfill a dream. 

    At War with Love / In Guerra per amore
    Pierfrancesco Diliberto, Italy, 2016, 99m
    Italian with English subtitles
    North American Premiere
    Saturday, June 3, 9:15pm, Tuesday, June 6, 2:30pm

    The latest by Pierfrancesco Diliberto (a.k.a. Pif, Italy's renowned TV host and political comedian) is a tender comedy set against the backdrop of World War II. Sicilian emigrant Arturo (Pif) is in love with Flora (Miriam Leone), but she's betrothed to the son of a New York mafia boss. Arturo's only option is to ask Flora's father for her hand; however, he still lives in Sicily. Penniless but determined, Arturo takes a "free" passage to Italy by enlisting in the U.S. military at the start of the Allied invasion. Mixing history with outrageous comedy and political satire, At War with Love is like Forrest Gump by way of Mel Brooks—equal parts funny, charming, and irreverent. 

    Children of the Night / I Figli della notte
    Andrea De Sica, Italy/Belgium, 2016, 85m
    Italian with English subtitles
    North American Premiere 
    Sunday, June 4, 4:00pm, Wednesday, June 7, 4:30pm

    Introverted 17-year-old Giulio (Vincenzo Crea) is sent to an elite boarding school in the Alps. Contact to the outside world is limited, and the students—all troubled, some territorial and violent—are constantly surveilled by the administration (which includes an unctuous Fabrizio Rongione). Giulio forms an unlikely bond with the most sullen and rebellious student, Edoardo (Ludovico Succio), with whom he routinely sneaks off to a lascivious nightclub in the forest—but their nighttime excursions don't go undetected, nor are they as transgressive as initially thought. A twisted coming-of-age story tinged with elements of horror, Andrea De Sica's feature debut is a tightly wound narrative that defies convention.  

    The Confessions / Le Confessioni
    Roberto Andò, Italy/France, 2016, 104m
    Italian, English, and French with English subtitles
    New York Premiere
    Thursday, June 1, 4:00pm & 9:00pm

    Roberto Andò reteams with Toni Servillo in this Hitchcockian mystery-thriller, a spiritual sequel to Andò's Long Live Freedom (a 2014 Open Roads selection). During a G8 summit in a luxurious German hotel, a trio of outsiders—a rock star (Johan Heldenbergh), a children's novelist (Connie Nielsen), and a laconic Italian monk (Servillo)—join the Group of Eight at the request of Daniel Roché (Daniel Auteuil), a powerful man with an obscure agenda. Things get even more mysterious when Roché is found dead following a clandestine meeting with the monk. Boasting a star-studded international cast and a perfect blend of suspense, international intrigue, and a subdued but biting sense of humor, The Confessions is a classically composed and wildly entertaining whodunit. 

    Deliver / Liberami
    Federica Di Giacomo, Italy, 2016, 90m
    Italian with English subtitles
    New York Premiere
    ​Sunday, June 4, 6:30pm

    Winner of the Orizzonti Prize at last year's Venice Film Festival, Deliver follows Father Cataldo, a Sicilian priest sought out by Catholics who believe themselves to be possessed. In between capturing the religious rites he performs on his clients—by turns frightening, profane, and absurd—Di Giacomo's documentary peers into the private lives of the afflicted: everyday people drawn to the church out of desperation who discuss their demonic interactions as though they were mere medical conditions. Avoiding cliché and easy sentimentality, Deliver offers a fresh perspective on the psychology underlying the continued practice of exorcism in the modern world. 

    Ears / Orecchie
    Alessandro Aronadio, Italy, 2016, 90m
    Italian with English subtitles
    New York Premiere
    Friday, June 2, 3:45pm, Monday, June 5, 9:00pm

    A man wakes up with a painful ringing in his ear and to a note that reads, "Your friend Luigi is dead! I'm sorry. PS: I took the car..." But who's Luigi? This is just one of the many questions the unnamed protagonist (Daniele Parisi) must ask himself in this absurd tragicomedy by writer-director Alessandro Aronadio (One Life, Maybe Two, a 2010 Open Roads selection). Unfolding in a single day, Earsupsets a hapless man's routine with a series of hilarious, Kafkaesque situations involving meddlesome nuns, bumbling doctors, and a perplexing array of bureaucratic mishaps. Aronadio's black-and-white, aspect ratio­shifting second feature is a one-of-a-kind comedy that surprises and delights with unassuming humor and a quirky supporting cast.

    Claudio Giovannesi, Italy, 2016, 109m
    Italian with English subtitles
    New York Premiere
    ​Friday, June 2, 9:00pm, Monday, June 5, 6:45pm

    Stylishly blending social realism with a coming-of-age story, Claudio Giovannesi's third feature focuses on a blossoming romance in a juvenile detention center. Newcomer Daphne Scoccia stars as a tough but troubled young girl locked up after committing a robbery, and during her stint she meets Josh (Josciua Algeri), an inmate confined to the boy's ward in the neighboring building. Their prohibited interactions spiral into a forbidden yet innocent romance that provides an escape from their fraught personal problems. Fiore's measured treatment of troubled youth recalls the Dardenne brothers, but the film's assured visual style and breathless romance are entirely the invention of director Giovannesi. 

    Pawn Street / Le Ultime Cose
    Irene Dionisio, Italy/Switzerland/France, 2016, 85m
    Italian with English subtitles
    North American Premiere
    Sunday, June 4, 1:30pm

    Irene Dionisio's debut feature is a gripping moral drama that weaves together the plights of three people connected to a pawn shop in Turin. Stefano (Fabrizio Falco) is torn between doing the right thing and keeping his new job as a pawnbroker after catching his morally bankrupt manager (Roberto De Francesco) deceiving customers, one of whom is Sandra (Christina Rosamilia), a transgender woman at odds with her past. Outside the pawn shop, Michele (Alfonso Santagata), a kindhearted family man, gets in too deep with some deceitful street hagglers who illegally buy up receipts from the shop's customers. Lensed by César-winning DP Caroline Champetier (Holy MotorsI Can No Longer Hear the Guitar), Pawn Street tackles complex themes of shame and redemption with naked emotion and vivid realism. 

    Sun, Heart, Love / Sole, Cuore, Amore
    Daniele Vicari, Italy, 2016, 109m
    Italian with English subtitles
    North American Premiere
    Saturday, June 3, 6:30pm, Wednesday, June 7, 2:00pm

    In this tragic ode to urban living from writer-director Daniele Vicari, Eli (Isabella Ragonese) puts herself through a crushing daily grind—a two-hour commute from the outskirts of Rome that's slowly taking a toll on her health—in order to support her unemployed, loving husband and their children. Meanwhile her lifelong best friend Vale (Eva Grieco in her debut role), a dancer living on her own, is faced with her own struggles after taking in a coworker who was beaten by her boyfriend. Beautifully blending melancholy with quiet joy, Vicari's latest is a sorrowful, sensitively observed study of straphangers caught up in life's unrelenting demands. 

    Sweet Dreams / Fai bei sogni
    Marco Bellocchio, Italy/France, 2016, 134m
    Italian and French with English subtitles
    New York Premiere
    Sunday, June 4, 9:00pm, Tuesday, June 6, 8:45pm

    The latest from Marco Bellocchio is this delicate, melancholic, and deeply moving adaptation of Massimo Gramellini's popular autobiographical novel Sweet Dreams, Little One. Tracing a middle-aged man (Valerio Mastandrea) as he still struggles to come to grips with the sudden loss of his mother when he was nine years old, Sweet Dreams alternates between past and present, memories and dreams, effortlessly weaving together disparate elements of Massimo's life to yield a profound, poetic study of loss and maternal love. Gracefully photographed by frequent DP Daniele Ciprì (VincereDormant Beauty), this is Bellocchio at his most emotional, but his signature sense of humor and irony are as strong as ever. 

    Tenderness / La Tenerezza
    Gianni Amelio, Italy, 2017, 103m
    Italian with English subtitles
    North American Premiere
    Friday, June 2, 6:30pm, Monday, June 5, 4:30pm

    The latest by Lamerica director Gianni Amelio explores loneliness, heartbreak, and complicated family relations in modern-day Naples. Renato Carpentieri stars as Lorenzo, an elderly widower estranged from his children who gradually builds a friendship with the new family next door—until a catastrophe pulls them apart. Loosely based on Lorenzo Moreno's Premio Strega prize­winning novel, The Temptation to Be HappyTenderness is a powerfully acted character study as well as an evocative portrait of middle-class Naples, beautifully filmed by Luca Bigazzi (The Great Beauty). 

    Two Soldiers / Due Soldati
    Marco Tullio Giordana, Italy, 2017, 100m
    Italian with English subtitles
    North American Premiere
    Friday, June 2, 1:30pm, Tuesday, June 6, 6:30pm

    A grieving woman unexpectedly comes face to face with Naples' violent Camorra in what could be considered the third installment of Marco Tullio Giordana's organized crime cycle—including his Golden Globe-nominated One Hundred Steps and 2015's Lea. Rising star Angela Fontana (one of the leads in Indivisible, this year's opening night film) plays Maria, a young woman planning her marriage to a soldier stationed in Afghanistan (Dario Rea), until his life is tragically cut short. After being left alone in their new, empty apartment, she crosses paths with Salvatore (Daniele Vicorito), a member of the Mafia who hides out in her condominium after a botched hit job. Giordana's latest is a complex exploration of grief and redemption that evocatively captures the rippling consequences of war. 

    The War of the Yokels / La Guerra dei cafoni
    Davide Barletti & Lorenzo Conte, Italy, 2016, 98m
    Italian with English subtitles
    North American Premiere
    Sunday, June 4, 1:30pm, Tuesday, June 6, 4:30pm

    With an eclectic ensemble cast made up almost entirely of children, Davide Barletti and Lorenzo Conte's fable about a war between the ruling elite and lower classes, based on the novel by Carlo D'Amicis, plays like a cross between Lord of the Flies and The Goonies. No one really knows why the centuries-old war exists, but after the "yokels" of the underclass carry out a series of disruptive invasions, and bring in a ruthless outsider, things start to escalate violently. Meanwhile, the pitiless leader of the ruling class falls in love with a yokel and begins to question his role in the needless war. Set in the 1970s off the sunbaked coast of Puglia, beautifully photographed by Duccio CimattiThe War of the Yokels is a rambunctious mixture of social satire, perilous adventure, and low-key fantasy, with energetic performances by its cast of young actors.

    Worldly Girl / La Ragazza del Mondo
    Marco Danieli, Italy/France, 2016, 101m
    Italian with English subtitles
    North American Premiere
    Sunday, June 4, 4:00pm

    In Marco Danieli's debut feature, Sara Serraiocco (Salvo) stars as Giulia, a smart young Jehovah's Witness whose lifestyle is put to the test when she meets Libero (Michele Riondino), an ex-con and son of a recent convert. As much as Giulia wants to pursue a future in mathematics (which goes against her religion), it's her unexpected attachment to Libero that pulls her from her community. Sensitively portraying the religious community, Danieli's first feature is an assured, wonderfully acted, and unpredictable celebration of individuality. Worldly Girl premiered at last year's Venice Film Festival, where Danieli won the Brian Award (given by the Italian Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics) and stars Serraiocco and Riondino both won Pasinetti Awards for their performances.

  • Art & Culture

    Olnick Spanu to Present New Exhibition and Art Space

    Husband-and-wife team, Nancy Olnick and Giorgio Spanu, who grew up on two very distant islands—Manhattan and Sardinia respectively, have quietly accumulated a 400-piece plus collection of postwar Italian art from a movement known as Arte Povera. However, they recently expanded their collection to include work from three artists representative of the next generation, which will be featured in an upcoming exhibition called Marco Bagnoli, Domenico Bianchi, Remo Salvadori: From The Olnick Spanu Collection. In partnership with the Italian Embassy and the Italian Cultural Institute, the exhibition will be on view at the Hillyer Art Space in Washington, D.C. from May 5—July 2. These artists will also be part of the inaugural show at Magazzino Italian Art, a new warehouse art space founded by the collector couple in New York’s Hudson Valley.

    Olnick and Spanu selected Bagnoli, Bianchi, and Salvadori because their work is imbued with the illustrious history of Italian art, as well as a profound understanding of today's world and man’s search for meaning. These artists continue to explore the human condition and the greater cosmos, and are an example of the artistic talent flourishing in Italy today. Their hopes are that the exhibition will inform American audiences of the relevance of Contemporary Italian Art, as well as present three influential artists who are lesser known in the States. For more information, click here.

    The Olnick Spanu Collection and Their New Art Space

    In development since the 1990s, the Olnick Spanu Collection centers on works by conceptual and contemporary Italian artists, with a strong focus on artists associated with the aforementioned Arte Povera movement. It also includes a thoughtfully curated collection of Murano Glass—a breathtaking tribute to design, color, and light, featuring over 500 hand-blown works from the 20th and 21st century.

    Due to the scale and fragility of their collection, they created a private space to display the artwork in order to share their "experience and education with family, friends, and an interested audience who may not be familiar with the power of Italian Art,” according to Olnick. Located in Cold Spring, 60 miles north of Manhattan, Magazzino is nestled on a 18,000 square-foot-campus on the former site of a dairy operation revamped by the architect Miguel Quismondo. The inaugural exhibition, due to open on June 28, will focus on the late gallerist Margherita Stein, featuring about 70 artworks spanning four decades. The institution will offer free admission by appointment only.

  • Events

    Calandra Institute Explores Italian Sonorities and Acoustic Communities

    This past weekend Calandra Italian American Institute hosted an exciting two-day conference called Italian Sonorities and Acoustic Communities: Listening to the Soundscapes of Italianità. The event set out to answer where we find and how we can hear the Italian acoustic communities that have existed in the historical past and that exist today—based around a transnational understanding of Italianness that encompasses the modern nation-state of Italy, including its diaspora and former colonies. Such soundscapes, for example as described in the program, can be composed of Mussolini’s rabble-rousing broadcasts from the balcony of Piazza Venezia to Frank Sinatra’s bel canto vocal styling.

    Overall, the conference focused on Italian sonorities broadly defined in order to discover hitherto unexplored perspectives and expressions regarding such movements and identities. The panelists ranged from university professors and scholars to public intellectuals to performers, including singers, poets, and an organito player. A few standouts were: ​Donna Chirico, Calandra's campus delegate for York College, who chaired the "Women and Workers" segment and gave a lecture entitled Sounds of Silence: The Deaf and Hearing-Impaired Community as Linguistic Minority among Italians and Italian Americans; independent scholar George de Stefano, who gave the lecture, La Notte della Taranta: Musicking as a Social Act and Metaphor for Social Relationships, and chaired the "Disco, Hip Hop, and Mina" portion; and John Gennari of the University of Vermont, who kicked off the conference with his keynote address, Mediations on Italian American Soundfulness.

    Anthony Julian Tamburri, Dean of Calandra, shared that the goal of the conference was in line with the goal of the institute: “to study and promote the history and culture of Italians in America.” He elaborated that this goes beyond preserving because “the expression of culture changes from one generation to the next,” referencing the “development of Italian culture outside of Italy.” He emphasized that the events were heavily centered around the expression of Italianness outside of Italy, recalling that all of their previous annual conferences have dealt with an aspect of this in some way.

    Tamburri also shared that he’s drawn to the idea of sonorities because of its many facets, saying it pertains to speech, song, cinema, and language. “It also deals with temperament in some ways because the one thing I think we can say we inherited from Italy was a sense of demonstrative expressivity, and we tend to be very demonstrative when we express our sentiments or ideas and our wishes.”

    He lamented that Italian is not as spoken as it used to be. However, he expressed positive sentiments in regards to the rediscovery, explaining that “3rd and 4th generation Italians are going back to learn Italian,” adding that there’s even a “rebirth of an interest in dialect,” which he described as “an expression of the heart for those who speak it all over Italy.” Another optimistic observation, he believes that with the launching of the Made in Italy in the late 70s, “a lot of things have come back to life, whether its song, cinema, and things of that sort.” He concluded on this front, “So, while we lost some stuff, I think we’ve recuperated others, and some of us are hopeful that language will continue to grow.”

    Joseph Sciorra, Director for Academic and Cultural Program at Calandra, is the man responsible for coming up with the idea each year. He explained that the topic has to be “broad enough that you get a number of different people, but that’s also specific enough that it’s not too broad.”

    He added, "I come up with the idea, and then I start kicking it around, talking with people--Rosangela Briscese, Sean, and Anthony in particular, and then re-write the call for papers. With something so specific as sound, I reach out to colleagues, and the colleague I reached out to was John Gennari because he writes about sound, he writes about music, and he’s also the keynote who gave a special lecture about the sound."

    He expressed, “Sound is one of those things that we’re not always aware of. We’re a visual culture. Western world is normally visual and with the Internet, even more so. The idea to be sensitive and aware of how sound shapes our world, how we shape the world through sound, how sound creates a sense of identity, projects a sense of identity.” He continued, “One thinks of accents—your accent from Italy, my accent from New York, dialect sounds, the way people speak, their inflection. Those things are very much indicators of who people are and how people are viewed.” He even added that Italian Americans were historically seen as singers.

    “Then the question is, what happens when sound is mediated, when it’s recorded, when it’s transmitted, when it’s put into movies, when it’s made into a podcast. Also things like oral histories, who records these, how people’s voices and sounds get documented. What do people do with them, and who has the responsibilities with those recorded sounds? All of that is sort of part of what this conference is about.”

    As part of the “Tango y Los Italianos” segment, Calandra’s own Fred Gardaphé, Distinguished Professor of English and Italian American Studies, even danced. He said, "I have always been moved by music of all types: from ninna nannas to Big Band orchestras, Classical to Rock and Roll, but it was in Tango that I heard my past telling me to bring it into the present. It's that immigrant's music filled with ancestral longing for a better life while lamenting the need to leave home that caught me one day and I haven't stopped dancing since."

  • Events

    Chef Massimo Bottura at UCLA 'Science and Food' Lecture

    Italy native, Chef Massimo Bottura, author of Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef, graced UCLA’s fifth annual Science and Food lecture on May 2 as a panelist.

    Aspiring Lawyer Turned Restaurateur

    Like many Italian chefs, Bottura fancied cooking at a young age after watching his mother, grandmother and aunt in the kitchen preparing family meals. Despite pursuing a law degree, he followed his heart (and palate) and jumped on the opportunity to purchase a roadside trattoria for sale on the outskirts of his hometown of Modena, Italy. After leaving school and renovating the building, he opened his first restaurant, Trattoria del Campazzo.

    Bottura then apprenticed himself to chef Georges Coigny to build his culinary foundation—a combination of regional Italian cooking and classical French training. He went on to develop his love of food with stages for Alain Ducasse at Louis XV in Monte Carlo and Ferran Adriá at ElBulli.

    Osteria Francescana: Twelve Tables in the Heart of Modena

    In 1995, Bottura returned to Modena and opened Osteria Francescana, which quickly grew to be a three-Michelin-star restaurant. In fact, it’s regarded as one of the best restaurants globally with the World’s 50 Best Restaurants survey naming it among its top three eateries for the past five years, including a No. 1 ranking in 2016 for which Bottura received an award at Cipriani Wall Street. Rooted in the Italian culinary traditions seen from a half mile away, the site reads, “Our kitchen is not a list of ingredients or demonstration of technical abilities. It is a narration of the Italian landscape and our passions. Cooking is a collision of ideas, techniques, and cultures. It is not mathematical. It is emotional.”

    Guests can splurge on a 12-course tasting menu, but there’s also an ample amount of first and second course options, like tagliatelle with hand cut meat ragù and sole with white asparagus and hollandaise sauce. And don’t forget desserts from tiramisu to lemon tart.

    Cooking is a Call to Act

    For over 30 years, Bottura has followed his passions to find his voice, but he recently decided to help those who aren’t of the same fate. Around the world, we waste one third of the food we produce. So in 2016, he founded the non-profit association Food for Soul to empower communities to fight against food waste in the interest of social inclusion and individual wellbeing.

    His organization creates and sustains community kitchens globally by bringing together both ​public and private organizations, as well as professionals from diverse fields including ​chefs, artisans, food suppliers, artists, and designers. The team sources quality and in-date ingredients that are perfectly edible but would otherwise go to waste, then transforms them into delicious and nutritious multi-course meals that both employed staff and volunteers help serve.

    Food Waste: Solutions Informed by Science (and what to do with your leftovers)

    On Tuesday, May 2, in the Freud Playhouse at UCLA’s Macgowan Hall, Bottura; UCLA professor of environmental engineering, Jenny Jay; and Amy Hammes, a recycling specialist at the Burbank Recycle Center, participated in a panel discussion moderated by Evan Kleiman, host of KCRW-FM’s “Good Food.” The discussion focused on measuring the environmental effects of food waste, how policy influences food waste, and its relationship to hunger and the environment. Following the event, Bottura signed copies of his book, which were available for sale.

    Also, in LA, on May 5th, Bottura spoke with Chef Mario Batali, Roy Choi, Dominique Crenn, and Mary Sue Milliken at the Los Angeles Times Food Bowl. The Food for Soul Forum presented by S. Pellegrino and followed by an exclusive screening of Theater of Life. This film explores the story behind the Refettorio Ambrosiano, a soup kitchen conceived by Bottura for the Milan 2015 World's Fair to turn food waste into meals for those in need.

  • Illustration: Michael Hoeweler

    Lina Wertmüller Retrospective at Quad Cinema

    If you were a foreign film buff in the 1970s and frequented the famed Quad Cinema in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, odds are you were graced with a Lina Wertmüller movie. The provocative Italian director, a certifiable international phenomenon, was a longtime favorite of the Quad’s audiences. Back in the day, Swept Away and Seven Beauties both played there for nearly five months on end. However, the city’s first-ever multiplex, which opened in 1972, shut its doors down in 2015 for a multimillion-dollar gut renovation thanks to owner Charles Cohen. Once possessing a gritty charm, two years later the art house has reopened in a glitzy new form and is celebrating with a retrospective called Lina Wertmüller: Female Trouble.

    Lina Wertmüller, a lively firebrand behind white glasses still chic as ever at 88-years-old, began as an apprentice for legendary filmmaker Federico Fellini. She went on to rock the second half of the 20th century with hot-button, epically-titled movies that smashed American box-office records for foreign-language films. Martin Scorsese once described her 20-plus pictures as “funny and frighteningly harrowing and big and emotional and over-the-top and popular." He also said “she was able to do things that nobody else was doing” and that she possessed “a very special artistic vision.” New York Magazine even put her on the cover with a headline that read, “The Most Important Film Director Since Ingmar Bergman.” Not to mention, she was the first woman ever to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director for her notorious Seven Beauties, earning three more Oscar nominations for that same film.

    Both loved and hated for her contradictory proclamations, coined a “feminist” by some and “woman hater” by others, she garnered so much attention and her daring, politically incorrect films now look more essential than ever before. The program of her retrospective reads, “With world premieres of new restorations of her greatest successes and imported 35mm prints of ultra-rare gems, this series finally offers the opportunity to dive into the history of this extraordinary director, an aesthetic pioneer and a crucial trailblazer in a male-dominated industry.”

    The Quad series, which runs through May 11, spans the director’s illustrious career, featuring such defining films as The Lizards (1963), The Seduction of Mimi (1972), Swept Away (2002), and Behind the White Glasses (2015). The selection is split up between new restorations from Kino Lorber, which are making their world premiere as part of this retrospective, totaling to 14 films (including Fellini’s 8 ½, which she apprenticed on.)

    With a red lacquered concession stand that serves olive-oil-drizzled popcorn and coffee from all around the world and a separate wine and beer bar section, seeing the new Quad Cinema is a trip to take. And with Wertmüller on display there’s literally no excuse to delay your visit.

    For more information click here.

  • Facts & Stories

    Taormina’s Teatro Greco: Backdrop to G7 Summit

    Perched on a hilltop with views of the Ionian coast and a smoking Mount Etna looming large in the distance, the ancient Greek Theater of Taormina is arguably one of the most beautiful settings imaginable. And though the Sicilian town boasts pretty vistas at every turn and houses endless amounts of antique shops and old churches, the horseshoe-shaped amphitheater is the area’s leading attraction. Originally used to stage plays and later on gladiator games, the Teatro Greco is now home to events ranging from fashion shows to musical performances and soon, too, the 2017 Group of Seven summit.

    The G7 Take on Taormina

    The G7 is a bloc of industrialized democracies that meet annually to help shape global responses to global challenges. Unlike say the UN or NATO, the G7 is not a formal institution with a charter and a secretariat. Instead, the presidency, which rotates annually among member states, is responsible for setting the agenda and arranging logistics. And in less than a month on May 26-27, Taormina will take on the task of hosting the forum, which brings together leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the EU.

    The Italian government settled on this Sicilian mountaintop village as the meeting’s location for varied reasons. At the forefront, Sicily as whole is a cradle of the country’s civilization, calling to mind Archimedes—generally considered one of the greatest mathematicians of all time—and Empedocles—the philosopher who originated the cosmogenic theory of the four classical elements. In regards to Taormina specifically, also known as the “Pearl of the Ionian Sea,” its natural beauty is unparalleled and its many offerings are indicative of la dolce vita. Not to mention, it’s the public answer to freeing the island of mafia misconceptions by highlighting this quintessential locale. The Italian G7 Presidency 2017 site reads, “The decision to hold the event in Sicily – and in particular in Taormina - highlights our capacity to unite hope and hospitality in a single shared effort. Located on a natural terrace overlooking the sea, this Sicilian city is considered one of the world’s most beautiful.”

    Teatro Greco as the Summit’s Symbol

    The symbol of the event is not accidental either: the Italian presidency opted for the Greek Theater. Built in the third century BC, it’s not only the most famous icon of Taormina, but also one of the world’s most popular tourist attractions. Today, it’s frequently associated with hosting the prestigious Taormina Film Fest, but in a matter of weeks the spot will welcome some of the most powerful world leaders as opposed to international celebrities.

    The second largest of its kind in all of Sicily behind only Syracuse, the venue will serve as the backdrop for this year’s traditional family photo of the G7 heads of state and government. To be taken on the morning of May 27, the likes of Paolo Gentiloni, Justin Trudeau, Angela Merkel, Shinzō Abe, Theresa May, Donald Trump, and the new president of France will all pose together. In the second official photo, the G7 delegates will be joined by Donald Tusk (President of the European Council) and Jean-Claude Juncker (President of the European Commission).

    Later on that evening, the group will return to attend a concert performed by the Milan based Teatro alla Scala orchestra, which is regarded globally as one of the leading opera and ballet theaters.

  • Art & Culture

    Eataly Protects Da Vinci's ‘The Last Supper’

    In case you’re not familiar, the 519-year-old, 29-foot-by-15-foot depiction of Jesus Christ and his disciples—The Last Supper (1495-1498)—is one of the most illustrious paintings on the planet. Though it has stood the test of time (at least in terms of value), it's deteriorating rapidly, often referred to as the “most famous endangered species.” Fortunately, the world’s largest purveyor of Italian delicacies, Eataly, is stepping up to save Leonardo da Vinci’s legendary masterpiece.

    Wear and Tear from Time, Humidity, and…Bombs

    Painted in the refectory of the Dominican convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, the work has endured humidity and vandals, even surviving a bomb during World War II. For centuries, it has undergone various restoration attempts; however, the fragility and vulnerability of the experimental technique adopted by Leonardo (dry tempera instead of traditional fresco technique) has caused it to continue to disappear more everyday and with each visitor’s microscopic dust. As a result, it is restricted to only 1,300 viewers daily with a limited time of 15 minutes.

    Conservation Efforts: Controlling Climate

    But it takes more than a few visitation policies to preserve cultural heritage. The internal microclimate of the Cenacolo Vinciano Museum (in terms of temperature, humidity, floating particles and nanoparticles, air pollutants, and VOCs) is crucial for the conservation of The Last Supper. This is where Eataly comes into play.

    In an exciting international press conference on April 19 at Eataly Downtown, founder Oscar Farinetti announced that the piece will see at least 500 more years of life thanks to the installation of a cutting-edge air-filtration system. The Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism designed the system in collaboration with top Italian research institutes (ISCR, CNR, Polytechnic Institute of Milan, and the University of Milano Bicocca). And the giant grocery chain is the proud and only private financer of the system, which will filter in approximately 10,000 cubic meters of clean air into the convent everyday (compared to the current 3,500). The project is coordinated in Italy by the Arts Council and in the US by the Italian Renaissance Fund. The installation is slated for completion in 2019, in time for the 500th anniversary of da Vinci’s death.

    Eataly Announces Protection Plan

    With live video streams of both Eataly Milano Smeraldo and Eataly São Paulo and of course, Santa Maria delle Grazie, the world simultaneously rejoiced in this grand effort to preserve one of the most iconic, studied, and celebrated artworks of all time. Physically in attendance were the likes of Nicola Farinetti, Oscar's son and CEO of Eataly US; Vera Alemani, Member of the Italian Renaissance Fund; and Alberto Cribiore, Vice Chairman of Citigroup. Virtual speakers from Eataly Smeraldo included Andrea Guerra, Executive President of Eataly, and Stefano L'Occaso, Director of the Polo Museale della Lombardia. Not far by in Santa Maria were Dario Franceschini, Italian Minister of Culture, and Chiara Rostagno, Director of the Cenacolo Vinciano Museum. And lastly in Brazil, Andre Sturm, Secretary of Culture in São Paulo, and Renato Poma, Director of the Italian Cultural Institute in São Paulo.

    Farinetti began, "Eataly will try to tell explain this initiative in a simple way. It’s right to say that a business allocates a part of its profits to projects like this and that it tries to help a country like Italy."

    Cribiore was the first to extend his thanks to Eataly and to Farinetti for increasing the number of visitors to The Last Supper, which he described as "an extraordinary and incredible work." He expressed, "The fact that it can be accessible to the world is absolutely extraordinary. This restoration presents a civic and moral duty for Italians to make sure that this patrimony that we have can be available to everybody."

    After Farinetti noted how Easter weekend saw Italian museums full of people, Franceschini responded, “Easter weekend saw a very large influx in the cultural centers in Milan, Florence, and Rome, but also in little centers and neighborhoods of both tourists and Italian citizens. Through the monitoring of artistic and patrimony, we can contribute to economic growth in our country.”

    He continued, “We approved–3 years ago at this point–a fiscal incentive, the Art Bonus, the strongest in Europe today, for which each business and every citizen that donates a sum of money, even a symbolic one, towards the protection of national patrimony of a museum or a foundation, will receive a 65% tax credit.” He concluded, “This has a very consistent material, educational, and cultural value.”

    To celebrate the news, every Eataly across the globe is offering guests the chance to reserve a special tour of the painting that will allow them 50 minutes in the space after the museum is closed. On the tour, visitors will be treated to an expert talk on the painting's creation, life, history, and secrets.

    Next time you buy cheese, charcuterie, or whatever Italian treat your heart (or stomach) desires, you can justify the splurge as in investment in an early Renaissance-period art, allowing Italians, Americans, and other citizens of the world to revel in its wonder for generations to come.

  • Art & Culture

    The Italy of Thomas Jefferson

    For those unaware of Thomas Jefferson’s connections overseas, it might seem odd as to why the home of the Department of Italian Studies at NYU, Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, would host an exhibition dedicated to third President of the United States (1801-1809). Though little known to many, the iconic American figure was strongly linked to Italy, thanks to its architecture and beautiful scenery. Therefore, Maria Cristina Loi curated Thomas Jefferson- An Italian President (March 23-April 18) to offer an interpretation of his relationship with the country.

    On the opening night of the multimedia exhibit, Director Stefano Albertini addressed the audience before Loi took the stage to deliver a brief lecture. He began, "As you know, sometimes we present exhibits that come from other foundations and collections, but this is an original project conceived, elaborated, and prepared for us by Professor Maria Cristina Loi.” He continued, “It was during one of our meetings in my office that she told me about her expertise on Jefferson as an architect, as a planner.” He explained that together they decided it would be a good idea to present this story to the public in a visual and engaging, yet “scientifically sound” way. Loi achieved this by featuring prints of places Jefferson saw when he came to Italy that were reconstructed exactly as they were hundreds of year ago. According to Albertini, the exhibit took viewers on a “beautiful trip” where they discovered "why we have a claim to his Italian side.”

    Loi added, “In this specific case of Thomas Jefferson, we cannot think of his work avoiding to think about all the other aspects of his life. We have to think of Thomas Jefferson as an architect, or better a gentleman, an amateur architect, a politician, a man of love, and a man that was incredibly educated for those times in America.”

    Thomas Jefferson’s (Quick) Experience Abroad

    Over the course of his 83 years of life, Jefferson only spent 21 days in Italy from April 12 through May 2, 1787. He took this short trip while serving as ambassador to Paris, and his itinerary took him from the border with France to Milan by way of Turin and Genoa. He chronicled his journey in his journal and numerous letters, which suggest that he was mostly interested in farmland, vineyards, rice fields, new machineries, and production techniques.

    There are only a few annotations regarding the country’s art and architecture, but it's evident that that they both largely influenced him. Overall, Jefferson looked to classical architecture, which he considered eternal and universal, and which he came to know through Palladio’s plates and many other sources from his rich library. On the other hand, he looked to the ever-changing Italian landscape to inspire him in the creation of the rural America he dreamed of.

    Actor Miles Jackson, a student at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, read a passage from Jefferson’s travelogues to the audience:

    “If any person wished to retire from his acquaintance, to live absolutely unknown, and yet in the midst of physical enjoyments, it should be in some of the little villages of this coast, where air, water, and earth concur to offer what each has, most precious. Here are nightingales, beccaficos, ortolans, pheasants, partridges, quails, a superb climate, and the power of changing it from summer to winter at any moment, by ascending the mountains. The earth furnishes wine, oil, figs, oranges, and every production of the garden, in every season. The sea yields lobsters, crabs, oysters, thunny, sardines, anchovies…Through Piedmont, Lombardi, the Milanese, and Genoese, the garden bean is this great article of culture; almost as much so as corn. At Albenga, is a rich plain opening between two ridges of mountains, triangularly, to the sea, and of several miles extent. Its growth is olives, figs, mulberries, vines, corn, and beans.”

    As Loi described, “This is, as you have heard, a passionate description of a place near the border of Italy to France, Albegna in Liguria. It is the voice of somebody who really loved Italy.” After sharing how much he enjoyed Italy and Virgina at the same, she said, "He was very critical of the Old Continent and what he had been able to observe during his trip to Italy, like the quality of life and the dangerousness of the city. His goal was to make the best of that experience, and then adapt it to better living conditions of the country which he came from."