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Articles by: Joelle Grosso

  • The National Book Festival hosted thousands of people this week in Washington, D.C.
    Art & Culture

    Italy Shows Up at the National Book Festival

    Italy was the main attraction in two of the events at this year’s National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. A part of the international section was dedicated to the Italian writer Primo Levi and to the English translation of his Complete Works. The session was introduced by the director of the festival herself, Marie Arana, and moderated by Michael Abramowitz of the Holocaust Museum in Washington. Among the attendees were Ann Goldstein of The New Yorker, who was one of the translators of the Complete Works, as well as critic Adam Gopnik and the director of the Primo Levi Center in New York, Alessandro Cassin. Yet it was multimedia artist Cynthia Madansky’s short film which accompanied the presentation that made the morning truly unforgettable.

    In the home and food section of the festival, another event was dedicated to the Italian kitchen in the presence of Victor Hazan who was the first importer of Italian wines in the United States. He is also the husband of the late celebrated cooking writer, Marcella Hazan, who revolutionized the idea of the Italian kitchen in America during the 70’s. Hazan presented his latest book Ingredients: Marcella’s Guide to the Market where he revisits the ideas of his wife and aims to guide the reader through the best ingredients in order to prepare exceptional dishes. Hazan was accompanied by Alessandro Frassica whose book Il Pan’Ino Veggie is transforming the idea of the classic American Sandwich. The panel was moderated by Guy Lamolinara, an expert on international cuisine. 

    The National Book Festival 2016 was the first big institutional event organized by the new Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden. During the inauguration gala of the festival she expressed feelings of gratitude for the contribution the Italian Embassy made to Washington and credited them for the success of the event.

  • IHCC-NY's poster that represents their theme for October 2016
    Events

    Kicking Off October Right!

    2016 is a particularly special year because it marks the 40th anniversary of the Italian Heritage & Culture Committee of New York, Inc. as well as the 40th annual raising of both the Italian and American flags which will take place this Friday, September 30th at the Mother Italy Statue at Poses Park on Hunter College campus at 4PM. Following the tradition of the flags, a reception will take place close by at the Italian Consulate. This event serves as a formal kick-off ceremony commemorating Columbus Day, Italian-American heritage month, and four decades of Italian culture. IHCC-NY will also be honoring Francesco Genuardi, the new Consul General of Italy in New York.

    40 years ago, Dr. Angelo Gimondo, who was the Superintendent of Schools at the time, created a week-long celebration of Italian heritage and culture. Less than ten years after that, it was expanded to a whole month full of events praising all the contributions Italian-American immigrants have made to society, especially in the Tri-State area. Fast forward to today and there are hundreds of occasions held in honor of the Italian-American community throughout October. Something that started as a small project by a group of educators has turned into a fully developed concept which now involves prominent figures in American society who come from an Italian descent, such as the mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, and the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo

    Given that this is the 40th anniversary of the Italian Heritage & Culture Committee of New York, Inc., this year’s poster shows the various themes that have been presented throughout the years. From its humble beginnings to the huge organization that it is now, IHCC-NY welcomes everyone to be a part of their journey. Whether you are of Italian descent or not, each and every one of us can appreciate the things Italian Americans have done, and will continue to do, to transform our society for the better.

  • Fausto Paravidino at the Italian Cultural Institute in NYC
    Art & Culture

    Fausto Paravidino’s I Vicini

    In the matter of just 30 minutes, the talented actors Fausto Paravidino, Iris Fusetti, Christina Toth, and Marco Calvani managed to grab the audience’s attention at the Italian Cultural Institute in NYC and get them involved in the strange, yet funny, story of two sets of neighbors. 

    In the scenes that were reenacted, serious themes of religion and marriage were often interrupted with comedic dialogue about trivialities and the technicalities of language. A man, played by Paravidino, has trouble believing the things his longtime girlfriend says because she often seems uncertain of the words she chooses. He cannot decide whether she is giving him a reason to be fearful or whether he is just paranoid of a fear that stems from within himself. Upon the arrival of the new young married couple next door, all of these doubts rise to the surface and become exposed.

    The work that Paravidino is aiming to do is much different than any other playwright. Starting in the beginning of November, Paravidino’s writing process will be tested out by other actors and artists over the course of a workshop following a concept he calls a concept he calls "international theater" for his upcoming work Looking for Abraham. He explains how according to the Bible, referring to Genesis 11:7, all of humanity was once able to understand each other because they were united under just one common language. That is until God decided it would be best to intervene and confuse their language so that the people could no longer understand one another, thus revealing how languages were born. Paravidino says that Abraham is the inspiration for this workshop because he is a figure that appears in all the sacred religious texts of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. He wants others to put their say in his writing, he wants it to be a group effort that brings people together, a work of art that everyone can relate to and make a contribution to. The workshop starts in New York but it will make it’s way to other countries such as Italy, France, and Switzerland. This is Paravidino’s way of writing an international theater show with the hopes of symbolically inventing a new language that reunites us all once again. 

    Paravidino has taken part in the Segal’s Center and Umanism NY’s Italian Playwrights Project, created and developed by Valeria Orani and Frank Hentschker, which aims to “raise awareness of contemporary Italian writing for the stage in the Americas and to foster the development of collaborative relationships between playwrights from Italy and American theater artists.” So if you are interested in an innovative approach to theater and playwriting, be sure to keep an eye out for Paravidino’s collective workshop coming up soon.

  • Rome Film Fest 2016 will be held at the Auditorium Parco della Musica
    Art & Culture

    Big Names at Rome Film Festival 2016

    A lot of big names will be showing up to the Rome film festival this year including Scottish actor, Ewan Mcgregor and American actress, Jennifer Connelly. Opening the 10 day long fest, the award-winning actors will both be promoting their new highly anticipated film, American Pastoral. It is based on a novel of the same name written by Philip Roth which won the Pulitzer Prize back in 1998. The film takes place in post-war America and demonstrates how a man’s picture perfect life unravels and comes to ruins due to the social and political unrest at the time. The screening of American Pastoral has been a long awaited event by the public especially because it serves as Mcgregor’s directorial debut.

    Some other interesting films that will be screening at the festival include In guerra per amore by Pierfrancesco Diliberto, or better known as Pif, which is about a love affair with a World War II backdrop. Movie buffs everywhere are looking forward to Pif’s second work, since his first film The Mafia Kills Only in Summer that came out in 2013 turned out to be a huge critically acclaimed success. Also making an appearance is the new animated film that is great for the entire family, Storks. In the Italian version, the voices of Alessia Marcuzzi, Federico Russo, and Vincenzo Salemme tell the story of an unauthorized baby girl and the discovery of the true value of family.

    Other Hollywood stars like Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, and Viggo Mortensen will get up close and personal with the audience for featured talks in a segment called Close Encounters. On stage, they will share their personal experiences with the crowd and comment on the particular films that made them who they are today. Tom Hanks will also be given a special lifetime achievement award and is scheduled to have a public conversation with the artistic director of the entire fest, the very talented Antonio Monda. 

    The innovative Italian singer-songerwriter, Lorenzo Jovanotti Cherubini, will also be there in a segment called “Images, Music, and Words.” His songs have been featured in so many popular movies so Jovanotti is no stranger to cinema. He will be explaining to the crowd the strong influence visuals have on his writing and music and how he has a profound love and respect for filmmaking. So if you lucky enough to find yourself in Italy in mid-October be sure to check out the Rome Film Fest and all the great events it has to offer!

  • The audience at casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò Pic by Claudio Napoli
    Facts & Stories

    #foodfortalk: Preserving Italy by Domenica Marchetti

    Despite being a native of the United States, Marchetti’s abruzzese heritage was very prominent in her upbringing. Her mother was born in Chieti, a charming hilltop town near the Adriatic coast and this influence would turn out to be more important than Marchetti could have ever imagined as a child. In fact, it took a while for her to realize that her passion for food should be her work. She studied Journalism at Columbia University and was a newspaper reporter long before giving into her culinary desires.

    On September 15th at the Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, Marchetti told food blogger Jacqueline Monda and the audience about the amarene her grandmother would often make. Amarene are sour cherries which she would then preserve in grain alcohol and brandy over time. Even though her grandmother passed away when Marchetti was just eight years old, those preserved cherries still remained after her death. They were a direct link to her grandmother even though she was no longer around physically.

    It was this particular memory that was the inspiration for her new cookbook. It was the realization of the strange ability to be able to hold onto tradition and pause time through the preservation of ingredients. Marchetti even added that those cherries had lasted even longer because her parents allowed her to eat one only when she had a “mal di pancia” so she admitted that she would make sure to get stomachaches often. 

    Her belief is that “preserving is so central to the Italian table from the salumi and cheese to the digestivo.” This book doesn’t only explain and demonstrate this crucial concept but it serves as a trip through Italy as well. Throughout the book, Marchetti implements the typical Italian mindset of only using ingredients that are in season as well as using them in their entirety without any waste. Even though the idea of preserving in bulk may seem overwhelming, the process is actually quite simple. In fact the author says the only real challenging part for her is finding quality Mediterranean ingredients in the United States, like green walnuts for example. It is possible, however, to find good products and she says you can even find pretty decent olive oils at places like Costco and Wegmans!

    Some of Marchetti’s favorite pages from the book are the green tomatoes preserved in salt and the spaghettini al limone which features her lemon infused olive oil recipe. She concluded that “cuisine is always moving” and that although she loves the idea of tradition and keeping traditions alive, there must always be room made for innovation. That special mix of innovation and tradition is laid out beautifully in the her cookbook, Preserving Italy.

  • Art & Culture

    The Table of Silence, a Prayer for Peace

    Being a native New Yorker, the tragic events that happened on September 11th were especially hard on Jacqulyn. Living in an apartment on 42nd street, she was actually able to see where the first plane hit from her window. One of her close friends, Bill Biggart, passed on that day despite being in war zones several times throughout his career as a photojournalist.

    The inspiration for this particular project however came to her a few years later while she was in Italy. After visiting Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, she went to see an installation created by the Italian visual artist, Rosella Vasta entitled Table of Silence. Another artist, Constantin Brancusi of Romania, had made a sculpture with the same name years earlier. So with these influences in mind, Buglisi had the urge to collaborate with Rosella Vasta. She wanted to personify Rosella’s idea of the table of silence which was a huge allegorical banquet table of humanity coming together to sit and share a meal in silence.

     

    This was how the Table of Silence Project 9/11 was born. In this choreographed number, over 160 dancers dressed in white recreate the shape of a mandala which is a spiritual symbol that represents the universe in many Indian religions. This September, Buglisi was present at the Italian General Consulate of New York’s ceremony that paid tribute to those of Italian descent who died during the attack 15 years ago. In her own words, she said she wanted to create a “peace labyrinth” of a mandala energy that brings harmony, purity, and hope into the world. By doing this she believes that “we can send this message through the human body, the instrument through which we live our lives, and through which we dance. We could make that expression reach beyond words.”

     

    The Table of Silence Project 9/11 has not only been carried out in New York but in California and in the Italian towns of Perugia and Assisi as well. The performance has also been streamed live and was viewed in over 82 countries. Now that this beautiful project has reached a global scale, Buglisi regards it as an international call for peace while at the same time commemorating those who lost their lives on that terrible day so many years ago. She wants to enforce the power of movement and the concept that we can “awaken our humanity through art.”

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