Rising Italian filmmakers celebrated by “The Wave”

The growing clutch of female directors shattering the glass ceiling in Italy’s male-dominated film industry is celebrated with a curated series of screenings titled The Wave taking place this week in London and opening with the passing drama at adulthood by Chiara Bellosi Berlin Panorama “Swing Ride.”

From June 15 to 19 in London Ciné Lumière, Kensington, after a previous tour in Berlin, The Wave has been assembled by Cinecittà’s promotional arm to bring international attention to what chief Carla Cattani says is “a unique moment” for filmmakers in Italy where they are “no longer isolated cases.”

Indeed, as Cattani notes in her introduction to The Wave’s program notes, before 2010 it was very rare to find more than two Italian films directed by women in the same year. Indeed, in 2010, out of 122 Italian films released in theaters, only two titles were directed by women.

Cut to a decade later, however, and the percentage of Italian feature films directed by women that got a theatrical release reached 13% in 2019 and 2020, despite the pandemic.

So, as Cattani puts it, the idea behind The Wave is that these female directors “make themselves known before waiting for history to recognize their merits in opening up Italian cinema to women”.

The London public will be able to taste a selection, also organized by the programming director of Ciné Lumière Diane Gabrysiak, which will allow them either review or see the early work of some of the most prolific Italian filmmakers working today, such as Alice Rohrwacher (“Happy as Lazzaro”) and Susanna Nicchiarelli (“Nico, 1988”) plus a handful of classics from trailblazers Elvira Notari, Lina Wertmüller and Liliana Cavani, who for decades were the rare exceptions to break through.

Wertmüller, who died last year, was the first woman to earn a Best Director Oscar nomination.

“Swing Ride”, (pictured) which is Bellosi’s second work, is about being overweight 15-year-old Benedetta craves attention in an Italian province where she falls in love with skinny non-binary Amanda.

Other highlights of The Wave in London include Alice Rohrwacher first movie “Heavenly Body” (“Corpo Celeste”) (2011) which strikes a blow at the indoctrination of the Catholic Church in the south of the country by watching 13-year-old Marta struggle to adjust to life after moving from Switzerland to the deep south of Italy; Laura Bispuri’s first transgender film themed “Sworn Virgin”, which was a Berlinale competition 2015 out of competition; and “Maternal” (2019) by Maura Delpero, a portrait of motherhood set in an Argentinian shelter for teenage single mothers run by nuns.

Other stars include Adele Tulli’s documentary ‘Normal’ (2019) about how women and men identities are reflected in daily interactions capturing some of the most intimate moments in people’s lives; “Flesh Out” (2019) by Michela Occhipinti about a modern young woman challenging the Mauritanian tradition of arranged marriage; theater director Emma Dante’s cinematic debut “A Street in Palermo,” a dark look at a battle of wills between two women; and Susanna Nicchiarelli’s first film, “Cosmonaut” (2009), takes place during the space race between the Soviet Union and the United States.

Chiara Bellosi, Susanna Nicchiarelli, Michela Occhipinti, Maura Delpero should be there to present their films and chat after the screenings.

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