KPBS: San Diego Italian Film Festival looks to choice as a theme
The San Diego Italian Film Festival (SDIFF) kicks off its 16th year with "Qui Rido Io" ("The King of Laughter") on Oct. 12 at the Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) and runs through Oct. 22 online and at multiple venues.
SDIFF was the passion project of Victor Laruccia who envisioned a film festival as a "piazza", a place where people could gather and create a vibrant community around film.
Laruccia died in March and this will be the first festival without his warm, enthusiastic, and passionate presence.
"It's been a journey of sadness and happiness at the same time," said Antonio Iannotta, SDIFF artistic director. "Victor Laruccia's legacy is so important, but also his loss has been so personal to me and to so many of us. So we were able to celebrate him at The Nat and with two movie nights at the Museum of Photographic Arts. And these events, full of grief and sadness, were also filled with joy, with the joy of the community that gathered together around a movie to celebrate the importance of being together, physically connected to the issues, the themes that were so important for Victor. For Victor, the festival was a piazza, a place where people could gather, talk to each other, argue about topics that are important to each other and find something new in a movie, and after the movie, have a dinner together. Yes, it's been difficult, but we're very grateful for the legacy that Victor left us."
Before he died, Laruccia was able to select the theme for this year's festival: Choice. This follows the themes of Activism in 2020, the election year, and Resilience in 2021.
"Choice because it is all about what we stand up for," Iannotta said. "Our rights, our everyday choices, what we decide to pick for our everyday battles to underscore what makes us human. All the characters are strong characters in these movies. They fight for what they stand for, what they believe in. So to choose means to potentially put ourselves in danger. But that danger makes us who we are.
The festival opens with "Qui Rido Io" ("The King of Laughter"), which stars beloved Italian actor Toni Servillo (of "Il Divo" and "The Great Beauty"). The film looks to the life of actor Eduardo Scarpetta.
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