Wednesday, October 20, 2010


How's your Italian? If it can stand a little brushing up, I'm pleased to announce the return of the monthly Italian Film Series presented by the Dante Alighieri Society of Santa Cruz. Dedicated to promoting Italian language and culture in Santa Cruz, this group lost its film venue last year when the Vet's Hall downtown was unceremoniously shuttered. But now they're back with a new Fall Film Series in a new home at the Cabrillo College arts complex.

In the new series, "Directors of Italian Neorealism" (presented under the auspices of Istituto Italiano di Cultura, San Francisco) a classic film from the Italian postwar Neorealism movement of the 1940s and '50s will be spotlighted every month. A genre devoted to the human condition in stories of ordinary people struggling to survive in a radically changing world, Italian Neorealism was often shot guerrilla-style in the streets, often with non-professional actors instead of stars. The series launches this Sunday (October 24) with Roberto Rossellini's seminal 1945 classic, Open City (Roma, Citta Aperta); the film will be introduced by Dr. William Park, Faculty Emeritus, Sarah Lawrence College. As always, the film will be shown in Italian, with English subtitles. Showtime is 7 p.m., Sunday, in the VAPA building 1000, Art History Forum room 1001, Cabrillo College.

Speaking of the Dante Society, my friend Marta raves about the immersion Italian language classes she's taking through the society. Informal classes take place in the private home of one member or another; instead of formal lessons, the participants immerse themselves in the culture and language, mostly by making like Italians—eating, drinking wine, and talking!

It must be paying off: Marta and her husband, John, just returned from Sicily, where she had a high old time haggling—in Italian—in the marketplace.

(Above: Dante e Beatrice sul Ponte di Santa Trinita a Firenze, by Henry Holiday (1883) From the Dante Society website.)

Meanwhile, there's more movie news from the Santa Cruz Film Festival. Director of Programming Julian Soler announces the creation of a new competition award. The Spirit of Action Prize will be awarded to the competing festival film that best advocates a call to action around a significant and relevant issue.

Five to six films will be accepted in competition for the Spirit of Action Prize. Narrative and documentary films that meet the criteria will be considered. Submissions will be accepted through February 25, 2011. Visit the SCFF website for details.

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