The Italian Almanac

Ian McKellan at Giffoni Film Festival

Italian News - February 28

After successfully taking its innovative formula to Hollywood, the Giffoni Film Festival (GFF) for children is going to Australia. The 35-year-old festival has set up a new branch in Sydney which will have the job of staging a sister event there. Organizers said the programme structure of Giffoni Australia may vary a little from its Italian template, but the spirit will be identical. The GFF focuses on films for, and sometimes by, children and teenagers.

Every year it brings thousands of youngsters from all over the world to Giffoni Valle Piana, a sparsely populated town hidden in the hills near the southern city of Salerno. French director Francois Truffaut once wrote: "Of all film festivals, Giffoni is the world's most necessary." The Australian initiative has the support of the New South Wales state government and follows on from the organization of a Giffoni section at last year's Adelaide Film Festival.

It is only the latest in a string of international spin-offs, the most high profile of which is Giffoni Hollywood. The debut Hollywood event took place last spring and was sponsored by Hitch and Men In Black star Will Smith and veteran American actor Jon Voight. Giffoni Hollywood 2006 is scheduled for the last week of April.

The Giffoni model has spawned events in Miami and Poland too and there are plans later this year for an Albanian GFF. Artistic director Claudio Gubitosi organized the first GFF in 1971, when he was just 18. As well as focusing on children's tastes in cinema, it also gives young people the chance to participate in running the festival and judging the movies, documentaries and shorts competing for the awards.