Loved the Godfather films, but wish Kay Corleone got something more of a backstory? Love Scorsese but wonder if Lorraine Bracco or Sharon Stone were subject to a little too much male gaze? In which case an upcoming celebration of film on women in the Mafia might be for you! Cinema ItaliaUk’s mini film festival Donne di Mafia, will be leaving London for the first time this year, and the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution are delighted to be hosting it as part of a new departure put together for their Bicentenary celebrations.

On 23rd and 24th April, the Donne di Mafia festival focuses on the role, presence and agency of women in the Mafia genre of movies. The three films explore how women navigate the Italian criminal underworld with a degree of agency – whether good or bad. Women in Italian and American Mafias are often portrayed as helpless victims or ignorant by-standers, but this two day celebration of award winning Italian cinema seeks to make you see the world differently.

The programme consists of three feature films and a short including: Pippo Mezzapesi’s ‘Burning Hearts’, Nunzia De Stefano’s ‘Nevia’, Francesco Munzi’s ‘Black Souls’, and  Stay Behind by Federica Schiavello.

Pippo Mezzapesa’s Burning Hearts ( Ti Mangio il cuore) is inspired by journalists Carlo Bonini and Giuliano Foschini’s book about rising crime rates in the southern peninsular region of Apulia, and puts a sort of southern Italian twist on the classic Romeo and Juliet story, made all the more compelling for its astonishing monochrome cinematography.

Nevia, the début feature of Nunzia De Stefano, draws on De Stefano’s recollections of the decade she spent in the Marianella container park outside Naples, and explores if indeed the worst fate anyone can have is to be born a girl, or whether transcendence from your circumstances is not only possible, but an integral part of growing up. The fact that Nevia’s conduit to maturity is by way of the circus makes the narrative all the more promising.

Black Souls (Anime Nere), directed by Francesco Munzi is a classic tale of revenge. Operating against a Calabrian backdrop, rival gangs now find themselves entangled with powerful South American crime groups in the most destructive of ways. At heart a story of three brothers,  Black Souls is a film that covers all the widely recognisable masculine tropes and rituals of classic Italian cinema, but treads new ground by questioning the corrosive nature and consequences of that masculinity.  Will only the total extinction of all men within his family end the crushing lineage of violence that has brought Rocco to misery, or is there another more hopeful way?

Stay Behind, the featured short by Federica Schiavello, follows the travails of Antonella, the stories main protagonist and the hidden figure of ‘Stay Behind’, a secret operation against the communist threat, founded by NATO and the CIA. This small piece of cinematic joy is based on true events and explores the intrinsic links that existed between the Mafia, and the wider Italian body politic until 1993.

In addition to the screening of the films themselves, integral to the festival are some chaired panel discussions and audience Q&A’s designed to leave even the most armchair of Cinéastes with a taste for the flavour of Italian cinema. BRLSI are delighted that director Francesco Munzi has confirmed that following the screening of his film ‘Black Souls’ on Tuesday he will be joining us online from Italy where he will be in discussion with Clare Longrigg of The Guardian. The film director of short film, ‘Stay Behind’,  Federica Schiavello will also be joining us.

Whether you’ve encountered the likes of Fellini and Pasolini before, or you are struggling with subtitles in a whole new way, the festival delivers something for everyone. The event is sponsored by the University of Bath, and both BRLSI and the University of Bath hope students will feel tempted to come and discover the joys of world cinema for perhaps the first time.

Book now for a trio of films representing the best of world cinema, and watch BRLSI’s website for both the fuller itinerary and the chance to enter an exciting competition.

Please note to enter you must be over the age of 18


BRLSI News, General News
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