Now in its third year, the Festival of Italian Cinema: Venice to Moscow officially opens its doors Monday, and over the course of the week it will present a selection of contemporary Italian films picked from films shown at the Venice Film Festival.
The event, organized by the Institute of Italian Culture, will conclude with the screening of several Russian movies including a series of films by director Alexander Sokurov, whose dramatic interpretation of "Faust" won the Golden Lion at the 68th Venice Film Festival.
"There is a long, historical connection between Italy and Russia in the field of cinema," Venice Film Festival managing director Luigi Cuciniello said in an interview. "There was always a strong link of artistic influences despite huge political differences. I feel that both countries have always shared a similar vision of the artistic value of cinema."
Bringing the films to Moscow is an attempt to spread the news about new Italian film, Cuciniello said.
"All over the world Italian cinema is known for the successes of the 1950s and '60s — neorealism, the films of Visconti, Fellini, this great tradition. We want the festival to stress that nowadays we also have many great new directors," Cucinello said. "This is one of the missions of the Italian Film Festival here, to find distributors and audiences for these films all over the world."
"Compared to Cannes and Berlin, the Venice Film Festival is about new talent," said Naum Kleiman, the festival curator and manager of the Moscow State Central Cinema Museum. "We want to lend a helping hand to directors who may find it hard to get their films shown here."
Part of the appeal of this festival for lovers of cinema is the participation of actors and directors flown in from Italy to give talks and discussions on their entries. Director Fiorella Infascelli, whose 2011 documentary "Pugni Chiusi," or Clenched Fists, a tale of chemical plant workers living for 15 months on a secluded island showing on Wednesday, is one of those coming to Moscow.
"I really want to see first hand how a Russian audience reacts to my movie and to compare this to the reaction it got back home," Infascelli said in a telephone interview.
Her personal recommendation from this year's lineup is the film "Terraferma," which shows on Tuesday, from director Emmanuelle Crialese. It looks at a Sicilian family as they come face to face with illegal immigration.