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Articles by: Luca Delbello

  • An Old Incomplete Nation

    The public of the Italian Cultural Institute in New York is used to conferences. Every year many influential personalities arrive from Italy to illustrate projects and ideas, but February 17 was an exceptional occasion. Instead of a conference or a panel, the public witnessed a lesson in contemporary history. The professor not only came from a prestigious university, but he is also one of the most famous Italian politicians in Italy and abroad, Giuliano Amato. What made it more interesting is that, beyond the many details and historical anecdotes, Amato offered a window on the present, so that the public could better reflect upon the upcoming celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the Italian unification.

    The former Prime Minister's speech did not include comments about what is going on in Italy today, its delicate political and social situation, and Silvio Berlusconi's judicial affairs. On the contrary, the protagonists of the lesson were Gaetano Salvemini, Carlo Cattaneo and other intellectuals and thinkers dear to Amato.

    Present at the event were also the Italian Ambassador in Washington Giulio Terzi di Sant'Agata and former American Ambassador in Italy Richard Gardner, who thanked Giuliano Amato for his visit.

    After a presentation by Riccardo Viale, director of the Institute, Giuliano Amato took the stage and began his lesson stating his “thesis”: Italy is an ancient and incomplete nation.

    Borrowing from Ernest Renan, he explained the concept of 'nation'.
    According to the French philosopher, a nation must have two basic elements, a common past and a common future. The past is not objective and the moments to remember must be chosen together by the society. Amato also recalled the teachings of Anne Marie Thiesse, who insisted upon a common choice of the moments to be inserted in a country's 'tradition'.

    According to the former Prime Minister, Italian history began long before its Unification. In 1821 Manzoni wrote that Italy was one region, united by a single army, a single language and a single religion. Although disagreeing with the army statement, Mr. Amato agreed with the novelist's other two points.
    “The project with which Italy was created was shared by many players although their actions were different”, said Amato. Garibaldi and Mazzini shared the same ideas with different plans of action, and the same holds true for Cavour, a “great statesman with expansionist aims, especially for his Piedmont”.

    Therefore there was a difference between the country that existed and the country that was being dreamed of by the Italian protagonists of the  nineteenth century. Visions for the future were also different. The idea of a federalist Italy, which did not materialize, was central for many thinkers of the time, including Cattaneo.

    “But probably, that was the only possible Italy”, stated Amato, underlining the impossibility of creating a different system for Itay then; England and France would not have allowed Italy to have rulers outside of their sphere of action and control.

    “And yet this Italy, although full of contradictions, was successful in many fields, for example the better education offered by the Italian Unification and  the creation of the railroad system, Cavour's dream”, said the ex-Prime Minister.

    Even Salvemini was a convinced federalist, but he thought that such an Italy was the only possible one and the only feasible one. He wrote a lot about the changing conditions of the poor in Italy, for instance the fact that burial in a cemetery only began to be “available” to the lower classes after 1861.

    “There were many changes; but the Country was an accomplishment for the future”. An image of a future that was still uncertain and, especially, not shared by everyone.

    Moving forward several decades, Italy found itself divided by extreme ideologies, “Fascists versus Communists”. “And yet our Italian creativity should make us feel united”, said Amato.

    The celebrations for the anniversary of the Italian Unification are just a few days away, but Italians are still divided. People in the North recall their Celtic roots and many southerners yearn with nostalgia for their Bourbonic past. The choice of a common past and a shared vision of the future do not belong to the Italians; at least, not yet.

    Amato concludes, “Italy is a united country, but not completely... Could we have Italy without the Italians?”. With this question, Amato left the public pondering upon the fate of this nation; beautiful but incomplete.

  • Facts & Stories

    Day of Remembrance: Emotions Lest We Forget

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    The Consulate General of Italy in New York was designated to remember a painful page of the recent and turbulent Italian history. February 10 was chosen in 2004 by the Italian government to preserve and renew the memory of the tragedy of the Italians who lost their lives in the Foibe, as well as the exodus of the Istrians, Fiumans and Dalmatians from their lands.

    The conference began with Consul General of Italy Francesco Maria Talò who welcomed everyone and saluted the representatives of the Giulian-Dalmatian community, present in the room. The Consul paid homage to the thousands of people that “were victims of horrible persecutions as a result of the tragedies of history as well as the mistakes of the Italian government. Decades of guilty forgetfullness have passed. Now is the moment of remembrance, we must ask for forgiveness as Italians and as representatives of the institutions”.

    “Our duty now is to look towards the future and inform the younger generations so this history is remembered and cannot happen again, truth makes us free”. This statement included the importance of the so-called “spirit of Trieste”, which also influenced the presidents of Croatia and Slovenia, together with President Giorgio Napolitano, to celebrate this important date in Trieste, to attend a concert in the main piazza, led by Riccardo Muti.

    Those present at the Consulate General were brought back into the past, listening to a particular witness, Ottavio Missoni, an icon of Italian style and sport, who recorded an interview for RAI. The lights dimmed and the screen projected images of Missoni, moved. “One of the 360'000 exiles, victims of the tragedy of the foibe”, was the presentation of the famous fashion designer. Missoni spoke about Zara and the bombardments of the city in which he grew up. He admitted to have been displeased with the forgetfullness of the polititians for over forty years. “The 360'000 exiles were one-way exiles. That is the tragedy”, “Zara remained alive only in our hearts”, he stated, visibly moved.

    Afterwards the Consul saluted the Italian Ambassador in Washington Giulio Terzi di Sant'Agata, who wished to thank especially the Giulian-Dalmatian community present and remind of the importance of this historical date for Italy.

     
    Mr. Glacic, a witness and New York exile, spoke afterwards. He is the supervisor of the exhibition on view at the Consulate to remember the history of the Giulian-Dalmatian community.
     
    He collaborated with the Consulate in researching witnesses and exiles in New York. “I felt at home when I put this exhibition together, and I wish to thank Consuln Talò for allowing me this opportunity”, he said before passing the microphone to other two protagonists of the Giulian-Dalmatian exodus.
     
    A moving and heartfelt telling by the witnesses followed, with images being shown of families torn apart by foolish ethnic cleansing. Terrible memories were evoked in front of a silent crowd.
     

    The Consul General also prjected other videos, including some lighter and humorous of American soldiers marrying young girls from Trieste and their linguistic difficulties.

     
    The evening ended among applauses and the hope that such tragedies never happen again and that these memories stay alive and vivid in the minds of the new generations.

  • Fatti e Storie

    Il Giorno del ricordo: emozioni per non dimenticare

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    Il Consolato Generale d’Italia è la sede designata a New York per ricordare una pagina dolorosa della recente e travagliata storia italiana. La data del 10 febbraio è stata scelta nel 2004 dal governo italiano per conservare e rinnovare la memoria della tragedia degli italiani e delle vittime delle foibe, dell'esodo dalle loro terre degli istriani, fiumani e dalmati.

    La conferenza è iniziata con il Console Generale d’Italia Francesco Maria Talò che ha dato il benvenuto a tutti e salutato, in particolare, la comunità giuliano-dalmata presente in sala. Il Console ha ricordato  le migliaia di persone che “per le tragedie della storia e per errori commessi anche dal governo italiano sono state vittime di atroci persecuzioni”. Parole toccanti quelle di Talò  “abbiamo passato dei decenni di colpevole dimenticanza (...) ora è il momento del ricordo, dobbiamo chiedere scusa come italiani e come rappresentanti delle istituzioni per questa dimenticanza…”.

    “Adesso il nostro dovere è guardare al futuro e informare i giovani affinché la storia sia conosciuta e non si ripeta, la verità rende liberi…”, in questa sua affermaizone l’importanza del cosiddetto “spirito di Trieste”, lo stesso spirito che ha spinto  i presidenti di Croazia e Slovenia, con Giorgio Napolitano, a celebrare questa importante data a Trieste assistendo al concerto di Riccardo Muti in piazza.

    Il pubblico del Consolato Generale ha fatto un  vero tuffo nel passato e nel ricordo, ascoltando una testimonianza particolare, quella di Ottavio Missoni, icona dello stile e dello sport made in Italy, che ha registrato un’intervista per la RAI su questo tema.

    Le luci si abbassano e le immagini di un emozionato Missoni appaiono sullo schermo montato appositamente per l’occasione. “Uno dei 360.000 esuli vittime della tragedia delle foibe”, questa è la presentazione del famoso fashion designer. Missoni parla di Zara e dei bombardamenti della città in cui ha vissuto la sua infanzia e giovinezza. Un commosso Missoni ammette il dispiacere per la dimenticanza dei politici per oltre 40 anni. “I 360.000 esuli sono esuli senza ritorno, questo è il dramma”, “Zara è rimasta viva solo nel nostro cuore” afferma visibilmente emozionato.

    In seguito il Console ha portato i saluti dell’ambasciatore italiano a Washington Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata, che ha teneva in maniera particolare a salutare  i presenti della comunità giuliano-dalmata e ricordare l’importanza di questa data per la storia italiana.

    Il signor Glacic,  testimone ed esule a New York, ha poi presoil microfono e la scena. Si tratta del responsabile della mostra all’interno del Consolato per ricordare le gesta e la storia della comunità giuliano-dalmata.

    Ha collaborato con il Consolato nella ricerca dei testimoni e dei profughi presenti a New York.

    “Mi sono sentito a casa quando ho allestito questa mostra, ringrazio molto il Console Talò per avermi concesso questa possibilità”, con queste parole ha salutato  il padrone di casa e passato la parola ad altri due protagonisti dell’esodo giuliano-dalmata.

    In sala si è assisttio ad un’emozionante e sentita testimonianza da parte degli esuli con immagini di famiglie smembrate dall’insensata pulizia etnica.  Terribili i ricordi evocati. Il silenzio cade tra il pubblico.

     
    Il Console Generale ha fatto proiettare sullo schermo altri video, suscitando anche un pò di  l’ilarità di molti tra i presenti, mostrando storie di soldati americani che sposano giovani triestine tra le difficoltà linguistiche.

    La serata si è conclusa tra gli applausi e una speranza: quella che tragedie simili non si verifichino più e che il ricordo rimanga vivo e impresso nelle menti delle nuove generazioni.

  • Events: Reports

    Cinema and Religion Meet at NYU Thanks to Naples

    Cinema and religion met on January 19 in New York for a unique round table in which the Catholic Church faced American cinema. The protagonists of the event, Cardinal of Naples Crescenzio Sepe and actor/director John Turturro were moderated by journalist and professor of cinema at NYU Antonio Monda. Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, which hosts the Department of Italian Studies of New York University, was the location chosen for the round table, presented by Prof. Stefano Albertini. The excuse for an encounter between such different representatives of our times was their common love for Naples.

    Italian-American, histrionic and pure-blooded matador, truly talented character actor, John Turturro was present in his new role of director, committed to tell the customs and traditions of a people. The reality he has analized so well in all its nuances is quite distant from the American life he comes from: it is the reality of the suburbs and piazze of one of the most discussed cities of the world, Naples. His film "Passione" is a "unconventional and admirable act of love for the city", as Monda stated. "There are places where you simply feel at home", was the moving comment of the director, who spoke about the difficulties of growing up in an Italian-American family in New York and expressed his pleasure in completing a project that is also an homage to his roots.  

    The director's objective is to "attempt to eliminate all the cliches about Naples", using "the incredible talent of the Neapolitan artists". He reminded the public that his affection and love towards Neapolitan and Italian art isn't limited to the silver screen, but also includes the stage, with the collection "Fiabe Italiane" and "Questi Fantasmi" of the great Eduardo De Filippo; the only downside, admitted the Italian-American actor, is the absence of good English translations of the important Neapolitan literary and theatrical works.

    Also Prof. Monda presented his contribution to his half-home town, his latest novel "Assoluzione". "It is incredible how Neapolitan high and popular cultures blend together", recalling the similarity to another great literary and cinematic classic, "The Leopard". The professor continued Turturro's point of view, confirming the existence of many cliches that affect Naples and the difficulties that are met with when presenting its reality, so rich of art and contradictions.

    The New York evening was soon filled by the Neapolitan colors and sounds thanks to the atmosphere that the director was able to recreate in his work; he showed the public the first part of his film which was received with a triumphal applause directed to Turturro and his terrific cast; it was strange to see Peppe Barra's performances inside of a New York university. The theme of the movie is traceable to Turturro's statement "Naples is the jukebox of the world" and to a certain extent the film is its manifesto.

    After the screening, Cardinal Sepe of Naples joined the guests on stage, belated by the New York frenzy after an intense day of appointments. Art, cinema and religion shared the scene to tell Naples in a different but similar way. The event had been announced last December during the New York launch of the 41 Parallelo Film Festival of Davide Azzolini at Casa Italiana. The Cardinal described his own Naples, concentrating upon the incredible "variety of social, artistic and religious souls", since after all "music is Naples and Naples is music", he added. Even the representation of God becomes "artistic" in a city like Naples, where the citizen identifies himself with the Saint and turn to him "as a relative, a friend to turn to". Another topic was the famous Neapolitan solidarity. "If there are three families that are not on talking terms, when one of the three is in difficulty the other two participate in its moment of difficulty". The Cardinal underlined the reason for his New York visit, "dire Napoli", adding that the city's battle isn't over, "we haven't closed the sentence yet", the city hold on in spite of the difficulties and the many problems of yesterday and today.  

    The evening continued with jokes and laughter. The Cardinal candidly admitted to have known about Turturro only once he had arrived in Naples to direct his work. "Who is this Master Turturro?" was the question he had asked at the time, "if he's a good kid we can allow him to film in the cathedral". In the end this didn't happen but Turturro jokingly expressed his desire to use this permit for a "Passione 2" sequel. The Cardinal at that point answered: "Then I'll sing".
     
    The evening ended with Sepe's surprise gift to the director: a sculpture by Neapolitan artist Lello Esposito, who has been working on Naples and its symbols for many years; Pulcinella, the mask, the egg, the skull, the vulcano, the horse, San Gennaro and its various good luck charms. A special Pulcinella mask was the gift for Turturro, a special prize for having "communicated Naples" with passion and humbleness, in an original and creative way.

  • Arte e Cultura

    Cinema e Religione si incontrano alla NYU grazie a Napoli

    Cinema e religione si sono incontrati il 19 gennaio a New York in una singolare tavola rotonda; due mondi spesso lontani si confrontano, la Chiesa Cattolica ed il cinema americano. Protagonisti dell’incontro, il Cardinale di Napoli Crescenzio Sepe e l’attore e regista John Turturro. Moderatore il giornalista e professore di cinema della New York University Antonio Monda.

     
    La Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, Dipartimento di Studi Italiani della New York University, è la sede della discussione presentata dal prof. Stefano Albertini. Motivo scatenante dell’incontro tra esponenti così diversi dei nostri tempi: l’amore condiviso per Napoli.
     
    Italo-americano, istrionico e mattatore puro sangue, caratterista di vero talento, John Turturro si presenta al pubblico in vesti a lui insolite, quelle del regista impegnato a raccontare il sociale ed i costumi di un popolo. La realtà della quale analizza così bene le sfumature è però distante da quella americana e consumista da cui proviene: quella dei sobborghi e delle piazze di una delle città più discusse al mondo, Napoli. Il suo film “Passione” è un “atto d’amore non convenzionale e ammirevole”, come afferma Monda nei confronti del capoluogo campano. “Ci sono posti in cui ti senti semplicemente a casa”, è la toccante dichiarazione di Turturro riferendosi a Napoli. Il regista parla delle difficoltà che si incontrano nel crescere in una famiglia italoamericana a New York ed esprime tutta la sua felicità nel portare a termine un progetto che vuole anche essere un omaggio alle sue origini.
     
    L’obiettivo del regista è “tentare di eliminare tutti i cliché su Napoli”, utilizzando “l’incredibile talento messo a disposizione dagli artisti partenopei”. Ricorda al pubblico che il suo affetto e amore verso l’arte napoletana ed italiana non si ferma al grande schermo ma è arrivata anche sul palcoscenico, con la raccolta “Fiabe Italiane” e con “Questi Fantasmi” del grande Eduardo De Filippo; l’unica vera pecca, ammette l’attore italo-americano, è la scandalosa mancanza di efficaci traduzioni di importanti opere letterarie e teatrali italiane in inglese.
     
    Anche il Prof. Monda presenta il suo contributo alla città da cui proviene “per metà”, il suo ultimo romanzo “Assoluzione”. “È incredibile il modo in cui l’alta cultura napoletana si mescola con quella popolare a Napoli”, ricordando l’assonanza con un grande classico letterario e cinematografico, “il Gattopardo”. Il professore si inserisce nel discorso iniziato da Turturro confermando l’esistenza di tanti cliché che affliggono Napoli e delle difficoltà che si incontrano nel raccontare la sua realtà, così ricca d’arte e di contraddizioni.
     

    La serata newyorkese si dipinge in seguito dei colori e dei suoni partenopei grazie all’atmosfera che il regista ha saputo abilmente ricreare nella sua opera; mostra al pubblico in sala la prima parte del suo film ed è subito un trionfo di applausi a scena aperta indirizzati al regista e ai bravissimi artisti coinvolti in “Passione”; è davvero strano assistere alle performances di Peppe Barra in una sala universitaria newyorkese. La lettura del film è rintracciabile in un’affermazione di Turturro, “Napoli è il jukebox del mondo” ed in un certo senso, il film vuole esserne il manifesto.
     
    Dopo la visione, il Cardinale Sepe di Napoli raggiunge l’auditorium scusandosi del ritardo causato da una serie di imprevisti tutti newyorkesi dopo una giornata fitta di impegni e saluta calorosamente il pubblico. Arte, cinema e religione per un’oretta condividono la stessa scena per raccontare Napoli, in modo differente ma in fondo molto simile. L'evento era stato annunciato lo scorso dicembre nel corso della presentazione newyorchese di 41° Parallelo di Davide Azzolini sempre alla Casa Italiana. Il Cardinale descrive la sua Napoli, ponendo l’accento sull’incredibile “varietà di anime a livello sociale, artistico e religioso”, in fondo “musica è Napoli, Napoli è musica” aggiunge. Perfino la rappresentazione di Dio diventa “artistica” in una città come Napoli, dove il cittadino si identifica con il Santo e si rivolge a lui come “ad un parente, ad un amico a cui rivolgersi”. Si parla anche della famosa solidarietà napoletana, “se ci sono tre famiglie e non si salutano, quando una delle tre sta male le altre due partecipano al momento di dolore”. Il Cardinale sottolinea il motivo della sua visita newyorkese, “dire Napoli”, aggiungendo che la lotta del capoluogo campano non finisce, “non abbiamo messo il punto”, la città partenopea non si lascia abbattere nonostante le difficoltà e i problemi siano tanti, oggi come ieri.
     
    La serata continua all’insegna delle battute e dell’ilarità. Il Cardinale ammette candidamente di aver conosciuto Turturro solo nel momento in cui si è presentato a Napoli per dirigere il suo nuovo lavoro. “Ma chi è questo maestro Turturro?” è stata la domanda del Cardinale alla notizia dell’arrivo del regista, “se è un bravo ragazzo gli diamo il permesso di girare nella cattedrale” ammette scherzosamente di aver affermato. Le riprese non hanno avuto luogo nella cattedrale ma Turturro divertito esprime intenzioni di utilizzare il permesso per un futuro e improbabile “Passione 2”. La risposta a tono del Cardinale è: “Allora io canto”.
     
    La serata si chiude con Sepe che, a sorpresa, porta un dono per il regista, una scultura dell’artista napoletano Lello Esposito, che da circa trenta anni lavora sulla città di Napoli ed i suoi simboli; Pulcinella, la maschera,  l’uovo, il teschio, il vulcano, il cavallo, San Gennaro ed il corno nelle varie metamorfosi. Proprio una speciale maschera di Pulcinella è stata il dono consegnato a Turturro da Sepe, un premio speciale per aver saputo “comunicare Napoli” con passione e umiltà, in modo originale e creativo.

  • Events: Reports

    Anti-Italianism. Essays on a Prejudice



    A few influential social scientists and humanists gathered on January 24th at the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute of the City University of New York to present the new book “Anti-Italianism. Essays on a prejudice”, edited by Fred Gardaphé, Distinguished Professor of English and Italian American Studies and William J. Connell, who holds the Joseph M. and Geraldine C. La Motta Chair in Italian Studies at Seton Hall University.
     
    The Calandra Institute is the most important center of research in Italian American studies in the United States; it is often used as a meeting place for conferences, lectures, seminars and symposia on the Italian American experience.
     
    Dean of the Institute, Professor Anthony J. Tamburri moderated the conference and introduced the authors. Professor William J. Connell was the first to speak, presenting the various contributions of the book. Oblivion is a disease that some Italian Americans wish for themselves, “what often happens is that Italian Americans want to bury their history, I want to dig it up” affirms Professor Connell.
     
    The book is a collection of essays written by several social scientists and humanists, regarding prejudice against Italians and Italian Americans. Literature, television and cinema are some of the media used to foster prejudice and clichéd images on Italian Americans, and the essays try to analyze the misuse of these forms of communication.
     
    Fred  Gardaphe
    William J. Connell
    Anthony J. Tamburri 
    Professor Fred Gardaphé explained how important it is to utilize a multidisciplinary effort in some particular kind of social research. Contributions from several experts in different fields constitute the strength and the secret behind this interesting book.
     
    In the introduction, “Invisible People”, Gardaphé writes: “Italian Americans became invisible the moment they could pass themselves off as being white. By becoming white, they have paid a price, and that price is the extinction of their culture”. Professor Gardaphé would like to know “Who’s not going to read the book? The people who don’t want to be associated with anti-italianism…”, these people are the ones the book is about, the ones who deny their origins.
    He talks about a clash between classes. Images of working class people are the most used to depict Italians and their living conditions. “It has always been a matter of class, even if they didn’t talk about it…” he adds.
     
    Three other contributors participated in the conference: Peter Vellon, assistant professor of history at Queens College, CUNY; Elizabeth Messina, psychologist in private practice in Manhattan, faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry at Lenox Hill Hospital and cofounder of the Italian American Psychology Assembly; and Jerome Krase, Murray Koppelman Professor Emeritus at Brooklyn College, CUNY.
     
    Professor Vellon described the brutal reality of the lynching of Italians in the South and how Italians have tried to emphasize their civilization, pretending to have everything in common with white people, in order to overcome fears of being marginalized. They kept “talking about what they were not, instead of who they were”.
     
    Dr. Messina expressed her interest in history in order to understand where prejudices came from. Her essay focuses on racist ideologies behind intelligence testing. Darwinian sociology was used in order to establish the “inferiority” of Italian race and the dangers of contamination for the American society.
     
    Jerome Krase presented his essay, explaining to the audience his very interesting experience as consultant to civil rights for the animated film “Shark Tale”, in which the main character is played by an Italian Mafioso shark. The movie emphasizes a mistaken and clichéd idea of Italian Americans, underlining the stereotyped “italianità” of the big boss of the sea. Prof. Krase stressed the problems related to the potentially damaging effect of the film, especially on young Italian Americans. The activist campaign against the movie was in every major newspaper, but the results were not satisfying; expression of negative stereotypes is still a common practice in the American mass media.
     
    We hope this compelling book might even serve as a reminder, especially for the many who tend to forget and to deny their past.

  • John Turturro. Napoli tra Cinema e realtà

    È uno dei caratteristi hollywoodiani di maggior talento della sua generazione. Cresciuto a Brooklyn da padre e madre di origine italiana, John Turturro ha costruito la sua carriera puntando sulle sue capacità di versatile istrione, incarnando di volta in volta i ruoli più disparati, arricchendoli sempre con un tocco di creativa personalizzazione che ha reso i suoi personaggi indimenticabili.

    Le sue doti attoriali lo hanno reso una vera e propria icona del cinema americano, alcuni dei personaggi da lui interpretati sono entrati di diritto nella storia di Hollywood. Molti lo ricorderanno senza dubbio nelle parti del vanitoso giocatore di bowling de “Il Grande Lebowski” e del nevrotico gestore della pizzeria di “Fa’ la cosa giusta”, ma anche in ruoli più pacati come quello del commediografo intellettuale di “Barton Fink - È successo a Hollywood” e dell’esperto giocatore di poker ne “Il Giocatore”.

    Nell’arco della sua carriera ha avuto l’occasione di collaborare con alcuni fra i più grandi registi del cinema contemporaneo, dai fratelli Coen che hanno fatto di lui il loro attore feticcio fino al sodalizio artistico con Spike Lee, che lo ha scelto per dare vita ad alcuni fra i più memorabili personaggi italo-americani della settima arte.  
     

    Turturro rappresenta, insieme a Robert De Niro, Martin Scorse, Al Pacino, Chazz Palminteri e pochi altri, uno dei punti di riferimento culturali nella comunità italo-americana di New York City. È il prototipo dell’italiano nato e cresciuto in America alla ricerca di un contatto più intimo e personale con la propria terra d’origine, l’Italia. Sarebbe però sbagliato rinchiuderlo nel recinto della caratterizzazione etnica, il suo stile gli consente di andare ben oltre la capacità di rappresentare una singola comunità, riuscendo a dare forma e sostanza a ruoli variegati e complessi.

    Proprio il forte legame che ha con il nostro Paese lo ha portato a dirigere il suo ultimo film, “Passione”, a Napoli. Più che un film si tratta di un documentario musicale, un omaggio alla vivacità culturale e alla poesia partenopea. Il suo è un cinema sofisticato, delicato, nel quale si decantano le virtù di una città afflitta dai drammi del precariato, dalle speculazioni e dai falsi luoghi comuni.

    Passione è anche la parola adatta per descrivere l’impegno dei vari artisti coinvolti in questa piccola produzione Italia-Stati Uniti, a cominciare da Massimo Ranieri e Lina Sastri fino a Enzo Avitabile e Raiz, in un’opera tesa a valorizzare l’arte e la musica napoletana, spesso snobbata dalla critica, enfatizzando tanto la canzone tradizionale quanto le nuove sonorità. Turturro non rinuncia alle sue doti di incantatore e trova il tempo per ridere e scherzare, tra un ballo di Caravan Petrol con Fiorello e qualche battuta in dialetto napoletano.
     

    Regalando allo spettatore un affresco sincero e umile, il regista italo-americano riesce nell’intento di restituire un’immagine di Napoli non stereotipata, che emoziona e, allo stesso tempo, coglie le molteplici sfumature e le infinite contraddizioni di una città che tanto ha donato in termini di cultura e arte ma che, troppo frequentemente, viene banalizzata da eterni cliché e da perenni pregiudizi sul suo popolo e i suoi costumi.

  • Events: Reports

    John Turturro. Naples - Fact & Ficton

    He is one of the most talented Hollywood character actors of his generation. Raised in Brooklyn by Italian-American parents, John Turturro made a career out of his abilities as a versatile ham, embodying the most different of roles, enriching them each time with a touch of creative characterization that has made them unforgettable.
     

    His acting abilities have made him a true icon of American cinema, and some of his roles are fixed in Hollywood cinema. Surely many remember him as the vain bowler in The Big Lebowski or the neurotic pizza maker in Do the Right Thing, but also for more subtle roles such as the intellectual screenwriter in Barton Fink or the poker expert in Rounders.
     

    Throughout his career he had the opportunity of working with some of the greatest directors of today's cinema, from the Coen brothers who made him into their fetish actor, to his artistic fellowship with Spike Lee, who chose him to bring to life some of the most memorable Italian-American characters of film history.
     

    Turturro, together with Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, Al Pacino, Chazz Palminteri and not many others, represents one of the cultural reference points of the Italian-American community of New York City. He is the prototype of the Italian born and raised in America in search of a more intimate and personal contact with his land of origin, Italy. But it would be wrong to enclose him within a fence of ethnic characterization. His style allows him to go beyond the ability to represent a single community, being able to give shape and substance to different and complicated roles.
     

    This strong relationship he has with our country has led him to direct his latest film, Passione, in Naples. It is a kind of musical documentary, an homage to the Neapolitan cultural vitality and poetry. His cinema is sophisticated, delicate, in which the virtues of this city, plagued with unemployment, speculation and false clichés, are extolled. Passion is also the right word for describing the commitment of the several artists involved in this small Italian/American production, especially Massimo Ranieri and Lina Sastri, as well as Enzo Avitabile and Raiz, in a work that is meant to emphasize Neapolitan art and music, traditional and contemporary, often snubbed by critics.

    Turturro holds on to his ability as an enchantor and finds time to laugh and smile, between a dance of Caravan Petrol with Fiorello and some jokes in Neapolitan dialect. Offering the spectator a sincere and humble portrait, the Italian-American director succeeds in bringing out a non-stereotyped image of Naples, that moves and simultaneously captures the many facets and unlimited contradictions of a city that has given so much in terms of culture and art but that frequently is trivialized by infinite clichés and by eternal preconceptions about its citizens and its customs.

     

  • Events: Reports

    Cinema as Art at the Walter Reade Theatre

    November 27, 2010, is a day some newyorkers will remember. On this date a masterpiece of Italian cinema was shown at the Walter Reade Theater to pay homage to the brilliant screenwriter Suso Cecchi D’Amico who recently died at age 96. “Rocco and his brothers”, by Luchino Visconti, an epic involving modern Italian history; a perfect fusion between operatic melodrama and social realism.

    Antonio Monda,  professor of Italian Cinema at New York University, and journalist for La Repubblica, is the man behind the retrospective “Scrivere il Cinema: The films of Suso Cecchi D’Amico”, the event that made the screening possible.

    During his speech at Lincoln Center he spoke of the successful scripts D’Amico collaborated on, among which “Bicycle thieves” and “Risate di Gioia”. Guest of honor was the daughter of the roman screenwrite, Caterina D’Amico, who got up on stage very moved, her voice trembling as she started to talk about some of the “secrets” of her mother’s movies and her relationship with Luchino Visconti.

    “Luchino Visconti was very fond of literature, so was my mother”, she said, and went on to explained how in the 1950s D'Amico started to write complex novels for the screen with Visconti. “Rocco and his brothers” is one of the movies written with the great director and with Vasco Pratolini, a very famous Italian writer. The film is about a family of southern paesants who moves to the wealthy North and the challenges they face to fit into a new society. Carolina D’Amico frankly told the audience about the language of the movie, “it was not shot in Italian”, she admits. The actors and the actresses came from different parts of Europe, so “they were all dubbed” and “not one of these actors was known when the film was made”, even though we now totally recognize familiar faces like Alain Delon, Claudia Cardinale and Renato Salvatori.

    Ms. Carolina D’Amico thanked everyone and let the film start. I believe that many of the viewers present witnessed a kind of magic. Visconti and D’Amico’s film is a river of emotions, flowing on the screen; it’s like opera, where everything happens in a very short time and we feel overwhelmed. Its cinematography is pure art.  Nowadays it is getting more and more difficult to experience the same feelings when we go to the movies. Maybe the cultural climate that made it possibile is lost forever or perhaps we only need to wait for a better time to come. In the meanwhile we are thankful to Suso Cecchi D’Amico for having given us so many wonderful masterpieces.

    ---

    MORE EVENTS @

    Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò
    24 West 12th Street
    New York, NY 10011

    December 01, 2010  

    SUSO. CONVERSAZIONI CON MARGHERITA D'AMICO, Luca Zingaretti, Italy, 2007 (58', in Italian, English subtitles)

    followed by
    Screenwriting Italy: A conversation on Suso Cecchi D'Amico
    with Caterina D'Amico, Masolino D'Amico, Antonio Monda and Kent Jones.

    and

    BIG DEAL ON MADONNA STREET [I soliti ignoti], Mario Monicelli, Italy, 1958 (106', in Italian, English subtitles)

    December 03, 2010  (06:00 PM )

    IN PURGATORY (IN PURGATORIO)
    directed by Giovanni Cioni
    produced by Teatri Uniti
    Italy/France/Belgium, 2009 (72 min)
     

    RESET
    directed by Nicolangelo Gelormini
    produced by Vertigo Film
    Italy, 2010 (17 min)
     

    CORDE
    directed by Marcello Sannino
    produced by Parallelo 41
    Italy, 2009 (55 min)


    In ITALIAN with ENGLISH subtitles

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