Italian Film Festivals of Note

Compiled by Laura GIACALONE

Bellaria Igea Marina

Bellaria Film Festival

Founded in 1983 in Bellaria Igea Marina (Rimini), the festival is a showcase for independent filmmakers. Over the years, the BFF has paid homage to the greatest Italian film directors, such as Bernardo Bertolucci, Marco Bellocchio, Dario Argento, Pupi Avati, Gillo Pontecorvo, Mario Monicelli, Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, Ermanno Olmi and Nanni Moretti. The festival features the following contests: “Anteprima Doc”, with previews of new Italian documentaries; “Casa Rossa Doc”, which awards a prize to the best documentary produced during the year; “Corto Doc”, open to short documentaries; and “Crossmedia”, dedicated to the new ways of filmmaking and storytelling, online and offline, between digital media and documentary.



Biografilm Festival

Biografilm Festival is the first international event completely devoted to biographies and life stories. The festival showcases a selection of feature and short films, both fiction and documentaries, and promotes meetings with directors and artists who have significantly contributed to the biographic genre, featuring their most representative works. Besides, Biografilm schedules important national and international premieres of new movies, along with related special events and thematic retrospectives.


Future Film Festival

The Future Film Festival is the most important Italian event dedicated to animation and special effects. Every year, the best film directors, art directors and creative producers come to Bologna to present their films, backstage videos and exclusive pictures of new productions. The festival not only provides a preview of the future, but also includes retrospectives dedicated to the history of animated cinema and sci-fi, as well as meetings and events focused on new technological applications to other fields, from the web to video games.


Il Cinema Ritrovato

Founded in 1986, Il Cinema Ritrovato (Cinema Rediscovered) brings rare and little-known films to the attention of critics and public alike, focusing on the origins of cinema and silent movies. The festival is organized every summer by Cineteca di Bologna, and is one of the world’s major cultural events dedicated to film restoration.



Courmayeur Noir in Festival

Since 1993, the best of cinema and literature in the field of thriller, mystery, spy story, horror and noir is on show in one of the most fascinating ski resorts in the Italian Alps: Courmayeur. The 12 films in competition are all premières of the year. The festival also features a documentary section, retrospectives exploring the history of the genre, discovering cult authors and setting new trends, a TV Noir section, and a Mini Noir festival for young audience. Besides, the festival promotes meetings with the best Italian and international crime novelists, and awards the prestigious Raymond Chandler Lifetime Achievement Award to international renowned writers and the Giorgio Scerbanenco Award to the best Italian crime novel.


Florence Festival dei Popoli

Founded in 1959 by a group of scholars in the humanities, anthropology, sociology, ethnology and mass-media studies, the Festival dei Popoli, a non-profit organization, has been active for over fifty years in the promotion and study of social documentary cinema. From 2008 to 2010, an edition of the festival was also held in New York (NYDFF – New York Documentary Film Festival). The Institute has created a vast network of collaborations for the diffusion of documentary culture in Italy and abroad. The festival also offers training courses and workshops for documentary filmmakers.


Pesaro Mostra Internazionale del Nuovo Cinema di Pesaro

Created in 1965 by Bruno Torri and Lino Miccichè, with the collaboration of Pier Paolo Pasolini and Bernardo Bertolucci, the festival is one of the most important international showcases for avant-garde films. More recently, the festival has focused on the discovery of emerging filmmakers from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Iran, always keeping an eye on new expressive forms and languages.



International Film Festival of Rome

The International Rome Film Festival takes place every year at Rome’s Auditorium Parco della Musica, the spectacular arts complex designed by world-famous architect Renzo Piano. The festival’s most important award is a silver statuette shaped after the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius statue, placed in Michelangelo’s Campidoglio Square, arguably one of the most recognizable symbols of Rome. Created by Bulgari, the prize is awarded to the Best Film, the Best Actor and the Best Actress. Over the past six editions, the festival has welcomed many international stars, such as Martin Scorsese, Leonardo Di Caprio, Robert Redford, Tom Cruise and Bruce Springsteen, and has given the Acting Award for their lifetime achievements to Al Pacino, Sophia Loren, Meryl Streep, Richard Gere, Sean Connery and Julianne Moore.


Rome Independent Film Festival

Created in 2001, the Rome Independent Film Festival (RIFF) is a non-profit cultural organization whose members include both cinema enthusiasts and industry professionals. The association’s mission is to create better international distribution opportunities for independent films excluded from the major distributors; to create a lively and mutually beneficial point of contact between new or underrepresented European filmmakers and established industry professionals; to provide a platform for young people with a passion for filmmaking; and to stimulate discussion among audience members and fellow filmmakers alike.


Salerno Giffoni Film Festival

The Giffoni International Film Festival is the largest children’s film festival in Europe. It takes place in the little Italian town of Giffoni Valle Piana in Southern Italy, close to Salerno. Over 2,000 children attend the festival from 39 countries around the world. During the festival, children and teenagers watch the films, learn about the filmmaking process, and are called to judge them and award the best ones with prizes. The festival has been brought to many different countries around the world, with Poland, Argentina, Australia, Albania, China, Korea, India, and the United States having all hosted their own versions of the Giffoni Film Festival. The Giffoni Hollywood Film Festival in the United States has proven to be the biggest so far.



Taormina Film Festival

Italy’s principal summer film event, the Taormina Film Fest takes place every year against the stunning backdrop of the Ancient Theater of Taormina, one of Sicily’s most important and well-preserved monuments. The festival is a major showcase for film premières from Hollywood and around the world. Each year the festival presents a selection of 21 new features, chosen from the most significant recent production. A number of films first screened in Taormina have been subsequently chosen to represent their countries as candidates for Academy Awards; others have gone on to win Emmys, Golden Globes and other major awards. Festival prizes include the Golden Tauro for best film and the renowned Taormina Arte Awards, presented to outstanding members of the film community.



Torino Film Festival

The Turin Film Festival is the second largest film festival in Italy, following the Venice Film Festival. Created in 1982 with the aim of exploring young people’s cinematography, the festival has progressively widened its scope, bringing together art house films, experimental works and great forgotten classics. Over the years, the festival has gained a solid and acknowledged international reputation. In the last few years, under the direction of Nanni Moretti (2007-2008) and Gianni Amelio (2009-2010), the Turin Film Festival has hosted filmmakers of the caliber of Francis Ford Coppola, Wim Wenders, Roman Polanski, Oliver Stone, Emir Kusturica and John Boorman.


Udine Far East Film Festival

Now at its 14th edition, it is the largest festival in Europe entirely dedicated to Asian cinema. Listed by Variety as one of the world’s 50 events “not to be missed”, it aims to encourage and develop the understanding and appreciation of East Asian filmmaking amongst European and Italian audiences; to contribute to the commercial distribution of Asian films across European and Italian markets; to create a mutually beneficial exchange between Asian and European filmmaking companies; and to establish links between European and Asian film producers, through their participation in the symposium “Ties That Bind”, held during the festival.



Ca’ Foscari Short Film Festival

Directed by film critic Roberto Silvestri, the Ca’s Foscari Short Film Festival is the first festival in Europe entirely conceived, organized and managed by a university. Since its first edition in 2011, it has established itself as a sort of “world championship of students’ films”, screening the best short films directed by students coming from the most prestigious schools of cinema in the world. Along with the international competition, the program of the festival also includes retrospectives and workshops. The festival is a unique opportunity to get to know the so-called 2.0 Generation of filmmakers.


Venice Cinematic Art Biennale

The Venice Film Festival is the oldest international film festival in the world. Founded by Count Giuseppe Volpi in 1932, the festival takes place every year on the island of the Venice Lido, and is part of the Venice Biennale. The Film Festival’s principal awards are the Leone d’Oro (Golden Lion), which is awarded to the best film screened in competition at the festival, the Leone d’Argento (Silver Lion) for the Best Director, and the Coppa Volpi (Volpi Cup), which is awarded to the best actor and actress. Among the Golden Lion winners: Wim Wenders, Jean-Luc Godard, Louis Malle, Ermanno Olmi, Jafar Panahi, Mike Leigh, Ang Lee, Darren Aronofsky, Sofia Coppola and Alexander Sokurov.

Laura Giacalone is the Associate Editor for the Italian Journal.