Italy – the cradle of cinema neorealism, featuring actors taken off the streets – is also a remarkable setting for Hollywood productions. One need only remember King Vidor’s “War and Peace” filmed in Piedmont, Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” in Basilicata, and Ron Howard’s recent “Inferno” in Florence. Textures, places, faces, and production values have helped Italian cinema inspire generations of filmmakers. Today Italy has resumed winning awards and sparking debates with its “Great Beauty” (to cite Paolo Sorrentino’s recent masterpiece) – a multi-faceted, contradictory, unconventional beauty that is depicted in the story of ten “cinema cities”: Turin, with its museum; Milan, both bourgeois and proletarian; decadent, party-loving Venice; Bologna and its film archive; Florence’s with its long view on history; the eternal calm chaos of Rome; the diversity of Naples, ranging from Totò to Gomorra; aristocratic, heavenly Palermo; Bari, gateway of immigration (Gianni Amelio’s “Lamerica”); and Matera, European capital of culture for 2019.
Oscar Iarussi is a journalist and essayist, head of the “Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno”’s culture pages. He is also a movie critic and a member of the Venice International Film Festival expert committee.