The Italian Almanac

Sergio Castellitto

Italian Movies - August 1

While the rest of the nation heads for its holidays, most of Italy's top film-makers will be sweating the summer away on the sets of their latest movies. With directors like Marco Bellocchio, Ermanno Olmi, Gianni Amelio and Nanni Moretti all behind the camera and Oscar-winner Roberto Benigni currently putting the finishing touches to his new movie, the 2005-2006 season looks set to be a good one.

Bellocchio - whose last two films, Good Morning Night and The Religion Hour, were huge hits here with the critics - is about to shoot the final scenes of "Il Registra di Matrimoni" (The Director of Weddings). It's the story of a film director - played by acclaimed Italian actor Sergio Castellitto - who falls on hard times and has to moonlight as a wedding photographer to get by.

Castellitto is also the star of Amelio's latest effort, "La Stella Che Non C'e'" (The Missing Star). Amelio is riding high after last year's The Keys to the House, which starred Charlotte Rampling and won him international plaudits for his delicate handling of the subject of caring for children with disabilities. The Missing Star is the story of a worker who is made redundant. It is expected to compete either at next year's Cannes Film Festival or in Berlin.

Nanni Moretti is working on "Il Caimano"(The Caiman) his first work since his 2001 Cannes Palme d'Or winner The Son's Room. Moretti, perhaps best-known for his highly idiosyncratic 1994 comedy Dear Diary, is a left-winger and frequently a vocal critic of Premier Silvio Berlusconi. Il Caimano is a political satire, whose main character is not unlike Berlusconi. The film is slated to come out in the spring, during the run-up to Italy's next general elections.

Ermanno Olmi, perhaps Italy's most neglected contemporary world class film-maker, is currently working on "Cento Chiodi" (100 Nails), the story of a loner who lives on the banks of the River Po.

Roberto Benigni is currently getting The Tiger and The Snow, a love story based in Iraq during the US invasion, ready to come out in the autumn. In this film Benigni uses the same formula of finding humor in tragic situations that won his 1997 masterpiece Life is Beautiful, which was set in a Nazi concentration camp, three Academy Awards.