13th annual NM Italian Film & Culture Festival unveils this year’s enticing lineup of films and events

Feb 28, 2020 1300

BY: Maria Arancio berry

The 13th edition of New Mexico’s largest, longest running celebration of Italian cinema and culture includes critically-acclaimed dramas, laugh-out-loud comedies, and a Special Feature Film - a compelling documentary of significant social and historical importance, with an in-person appearance by the filmmaker.

The 2020 program also features three food, wine, and live-music events that showcase some of the best local culinary and musical talents in the Italian style. The décor, convivial atmosphere, and hospitality of festival events are always traditionally Italian.

The Festival launches on Tuesday, March 31 at 5:30 PM at the Hiland Theater with The Grand Opening Italian food event catered by Farmhouse 21, with music by local accordionist, Dick Steichen, and an Italian wine bar courtesy of Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits and Frances Ford Coppola Winery. Following the event is an always-dazzling performance by the young NDI dancers, and the opening night film, Criminali a domicilio (Bob and Marys), a light-hearted crime comedy.

The festival continues on Wednesday, April 1 with an outrageous comedy, Metti la nonna in freezer (Put Grandma in the Freezer) and on Thursday April 2 with the mystery thriller, Una storia senza nome (The Stolen Caravaggio).

Friday evenings are always the festival’s sold-out “Big Night,” with a lively bistro event, an NDI dance performance, and the festival’s showcase film.  “This year’s ‘Big Night’ just got even bigger,” says marketing director and festival spokesperson, Maria Arancio-Berry. “The ‘Michela’s Bistro’ event (Friday, April 3) will be catered by IFNM Vice President, Michelle Michelotti Martinez, winner of ABQ the Magazine’s 2019 Best of the City Caterer. In attendance will be the festival founder, Ronaldo Patrizio-Steiner as well as the director of our Special Feature Film, Gli innocenti di Firenze (The Innocents of Florence), Davide Battistella, who is travelling from Italy to join us.”

Battistella and his film will take center stage on Saturday, April 4 at 1:00 PM at the Guild Cinema where he will personally introduce the film and conduct a Q & A. “We’re excited to welcome Mr. Battistella and to premiere his film in the western US,” says Arancio-Berry.  “It’s a rare opportunity for us and our festival audience.  We’re honored.” Battistella’s appearance is made possible in part by a collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute, Los Angeles.

Saturday evening takes audiences back to the Hiland Theater at 7:00 PM for a spy comedy, Ma cosa ci dice il cervello (Don’t Stop Me Now), teaming with laughs and international intrigue.

The festival close on Sunday, April 5 is all about food. It begins at 3:00 PM at the Hiland Theater with Quanto Basta (As Needed), a heartwarming dramedy about a renowned chef and his young protégé who suffers from Asperger’s.  The film is followed by the final dinner where, once again, Italian Meets Greek at festival title sponsor Nick & Jimmy’s Restaurant.

Festival 2020 welcomes a second title sponsor, the Garcia Alfa Romeo dealership, as well as new major sponsor, Brezza Tirrena Olive Oil. During the festival, Albuquerque olive oil expert and owner/producer of Brezza Tirrena OLIO PRESTO will present two tastings and talks on the health benefits of olive oil. Mancini’s Brezza Tirrena oil has won numerous international awards and was voted the Healthiest Oil in the Nation of Italy, 2018.

The festival is a fundraising benefit for the children served by the state’s premier youth development organization, NDI New Mexico. “For several years running, we’ve broken the previous year’s record for attendance and fundraising,” notes festival Director, Dan Puccetti. “We’ve put together a program this year that will keep us on that path. We’re passionate about celebrating Italian cinema and culture in New Mexico and proud to have raised nearly $350,000 for children’s causes through our festivals,” he adds.


The annual NM Italian Film & Culture Festival is a unique cultural offering on many levels, but its centerpiece is always film. Since it began, Italian cinema has had a major influence on the film industry worldwide. Italian filmmakers are gifted storytellers who continue to expose audiences to a broad range of genres, trends, and social commentary, and who remain at the forefront of global cinematic art. The annual festival showcases the best of contemporary Italian filmmaking.

Criminali a domicilio (Bob and Marys) 2018 Crime Comedy / True Crime – Italian Style!  The criminal practice known as accùppatura forces innocent homeowners to warehouse illegal merchandise for gangsters. In this dark comedy based on real events, see what happens when Bob and Mary become victims of accùppatura, and boldly take the matter into their own hands. Tuesday, March 31, 6:45P – The Hiland Theater

Metti la nonna in freezer (Put Grandma in the Freezer) 2018 Black Comedy / A rollicking, irreverent spoof-tale of money and love  Is it okay to cheat the system if the system is cheating you?  Claudia decides “Yes!” and sets off a crazy chain of events that includes a little romance and a lot of laughs. Wednesday, April 1, 7:00P – The Hiland Theater

Una storia senza nome (The Stolen Caravaggio) 2018 Drama / A visually rich and intriguing mystery thriller  Valeria is a ghost-screenwriter for an uninspired filmmaker.  A mysterious stranger’s gift of a plot based on the Mafia’s 1969 heist of Caravaggio’s painting, La Nativita`, from a church in Palermo triggers engaging intrigue. Thursday, April 2, 7:00P – The Hiland Theater

10 giorni senza mamma (When Mom Is Away) 2019 Comedy FESTIVAL SHOWCASE FILM / Italy’s hilarious 2019 runaway box-office hit  See what happens when a tired and stressed-out mother takes ten days of R & R , leaving the three children with a father who was practically absent until then.  Be prepared to laugh! Friday, April 3, 6:45P – The Hiland Theater

Gli innocenti (The Innocents of Florence) 2019 Documentary FESTIVAL SPECIAL FEATURE FILM  Two art restoration specialists begin work on the mysterious 600 year-old painting, Madonna of the Innocents, and uncover the little-known story of Florence’s forgotten children and the women who saved them.  This riveting documentary explores art, motherhood, Florentine humanism and how a progressive-thinking Renaissance society created the first hospital in the world dedicated to caring for children. Saturday, April 4, 1:00P – The Guild Cinema

Ma cosa ci dice il cervello (Don’t Stop Me Now) 2019 Spy Comedy / International intrigue and a mission of revenge for the “Fantastic Five”  Secret agent, Giovanna, uses her professional training and skills to champion her old high school friends as she embarks on a mission to avenge their grievances.  A “moral comedy,” this film holds hearty laughs and a superb performance by Paola Cortellesi. Saturday, April 4, 7:00P – The Hiland Theater

Quanto basta (As Needed) 2018 Drama/Comedy / "A simple and delicious comedy, like a plate of spaghetti with tomato sauce" (nonsolocinema.com) Follow Arturo – an acclaimed chef who has done prison time for anger management issues – and Guido – his talented, young protégé` who suffers from Asperger’s – as their improbable friendship unfolds when they team up for a major culinary competition in Tuscany. Sunday, April 5, 3:00P – The Hiland Theater

Full Schedule and Tickets at www.italianfestivalsnm.org

SOURCE: Italian Festivals of New Mexico

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