Here’s a statistic you might not know- Italian cinema is the third most prolific in the world. In 2014 it put 1,207 films on the market. Founded in1937 Italian cinema has not only produced its own classics but also hosted the making of films from many other countries.
Recently cine lumiere in South Kensington welcomed Cinema in Italy, the fifth year London has celebrated Italian films and film makers. The mini festival held over four evenings showcased a variety of styles, stories and cinematic perspectives.
The opening night film was Ermanno Olmi’s ‘Greenery will bloom again.’ Based on the elderly director’s memory of the stories his father used to tell him of World War One, the film is a claustrophobic account of one of the last battles of 1917 on the Altopiano. The story unfolds over one night with characters who are not named and whose home, a dark trench contrasts starkly with the blinding snow outside, some 4.5 metres deep.
The film is as dark and foreboding as one of the festival’s later offerings, ‘So far so good’ is ostensibly light and hopeful.
It follows the lives, loves and dreams of five students who have come to the end of their time together living in the same house. There they shared meals of pasta with nothing on it, parties, romances, envy, rivalry, friendship and betrayal.
They are also young people acutely conscious that their homeland may have nothing to offer them by way of employment or financial security.
The performances are all warm, engaging and convincing enough for audiences to believe that the dialogue was ad libbed. It wasn’t. But as writer and director Roan Johnson said in the Q+A, the film couldn’t get a better compliment than for audiences to believe his actors were so much their characters they could just riff through their scenes.
So far so good is a delight. Catch it wherever you can if and when it lands in London again.