WSU hosts directors, actors at annual Italian Film Festival

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The Italian area hosted guest director Francesco Falaschi at one of three films screenings held at Wayne State University, part of the 2019 Italian Film Festival USA – Metro Detroit. Falaschi introduced his film, Quanto basta (As Needed, 2018), a heartwarming story of the encounter between a temperamental chef (Arturo) and a brilliant young student with Asperger’s syndrome (Guido). Guido convinces Arturo to coach him in a competition in Tuscany for young chefs, where he prepares exquisite Italian recipes and they both learn something about the complexities of interacting with others.

In a question and answer session after the film, Falaschi explained that the screenplay was inspired by his work with a cultural association in Rome, “Not Equal,” and his encounters with extraordinary people there. The audience applauded fervently after the screening, and the highly-rated film finished as one of the favorites of this year’s festival. This year’s festival brought three directors and an actor to the Detroit festival, allowing audiences the chance to get a firsthand look inside of the Italian film industry, and to understand what’s behind the creative and technical process of making a feature-length film.

The festival also introduces members of the Italian film industry to Detroit, and over the years many have visited the city for the first time and have fallen in love with its architecture and the warm hospitality they encounter. Falaschi toured Detroit’s landmarks and learned more about its history with Dr. Silvia Giorgini-Althoen, who is a member of the festival organizing committee. Prof. Elena Past, another longtime festival organizing committee member, served as his interpreter during the Q&A. A number of Wayne State students, including Stephen Brandell, Dominic Nanni, and Lydia Virzi, volunteered to help welcome guests to the theater and count ballots. Many first-semester students of Italian attended the screening; they remarked that it was a fantastic opportunity to experience Italian culture and appreciate the beautiful language.

This year’s Italian Film Festival USA – Metro Detroit (supported by a wide range of community sponsors) screened 16 films at Wayne State University, the Detroit Film Theatre, the Emerald Theater in Mt. Clemens, Michigan State University, and the Sun Theater in Grand Ledge. The festival’s organizing committee chair, Dr. Pierluigi Erbaggio, is an alumnus of WSU’s Italian M.A. program, and currently works at the Consulate of Italy in Detroit. There was also a special shorts festival for children at the Bloomfield Township Public Library, where children could sign up for an animation workshop led by Erbaggio and make their own short films. Erbaggio, Giorgini-Althoen and Past, together with fellow committee members Robert Cascardo, Enzo Paglia, and Carmen De Lorenzo, also hosted Renzo Carbonera (director of the film Resin) and Francesco Prisco (director of Bob & Marys), as well as actress Simona Tabasco.

Over 3700 spectators attended the 2019 festival, making Detroit’s festival once again one of the largest Italian film festivals in the United States.

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