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September 13, 2020

Announcing feStivale 2020, Activism

San Diego Italian Film Festival Goes Virtual!

San Diego—The San Diego Italian Film Festival (SDIFF) announced today that its 14th annual feStivale will take place entirely online, for five consecutive weekends in October 2020.


“Our 14th annual feStivale will reach past San Diego to film fans all over the globe and anyone interested in culture and art,” said Executive Director Diana Agostini. “This year, we are going virtual for everybody’s safety. We’re showcasing the best of Italian contemporary cinema, dedicated to the theme of Activism. This year also brings the second edition of the SDIFF Ristretto Awards, with 15 short films as finalists of our competition, which also follows the theme of Activism in all its forms.

“Our 14th annual feStivale is definitely a blend of creativity, resilience, and passion toward the arts and our audience. Our San Diego community has had the opportunity to experience firsthand in the past months the numerous opportunities to discover Italian movies through our weekly conversation with our team and guests from Italy and all over the world. feStivale will expand on what we’ve built during the pandemic to anyone interested in culture and the arts all over the US,” said Executive Director Diana Agostini. “Theme of this year’s festival is Activism in all of its forms. This decision was taken in late 2019, and now more than ever we stand behind it and its relevance. We are going to engage our audience with weekly discussions with directors from Italy, panels with guests who dedicate their lives to better our communities, and more great content. This year also brings the second edition of the SDIFF Ristretto Awards, with 15 short films as finalists of our competition, a stellar jury, and two new awards: the Audience award and the Students award. Presenting our feStivale online means we also have the opportunity to expand our reach and that of the best of contemporary Italian cinema and of emerging Italian talent. There will be something for everybody!”

The feStivale will begin with a Launch Event on Sunday, September 27, featuring two local composers with Italian roots, Marc and Landon Akiyama of Akiyama Music, a film scoring and production studio based in San Diego. Attendees will enjoy Marc and Landon’s original compositions as well as a screening of their short film Brush.

San Diego Italian Film Festival 2020 feStivale

Thursday, October 1 to Saturday, October 3

Sunday, October 4: Live Q & A with the directors

It Will Be Chaos

Emmy Award for Outstanding Current Affairs Documentary

USA, 2018

Lorena Luciano and Filippo Piscopo, Directors

Life in Italy is thrown into a tailspin when refugees arrive by the thousands and the locals are left to fend for themselves. Eritrean survivor Aregai, trapped in the faltering Italian immigration system, goes underground to reach northern Europe. Through his journey, intercut with the road trip to Germany of a Syrian family, the clash between the newcomers and the locals escalates in real time.

Slated to air on HBO on World Refugee Day, “It Will Be Chaos” goes beyond statistics to illustrate the impossible decisions people and communities face daily with the ongoing Mediterranean refugee crisis, underscoring the imperative—increasingly less considered with the rise of right-wing populism—to unify international efforts to mitigate this tragedy.

In Italian, Tigrinya, Arabic, English, with English subtitles.


Thursday, October 8 to Saturday, October 10

Sunday, October 11: Live Q & A with the director


David di Donatello 2020 - Best New Director

Italy, 2019

Phaim Bhuiyan, Director

Phaim, a young Moslem of Bangladeshi origin born in Italy 22 years ago, lives with his family in Rome’s multiethnic Torpignattara neighborhood. He works as a museum steward and plays in a band. At a concert, he meets Asia, his exact opposite: pure instinct, and no rules. The attraction between them is immediate, and Phaim will have to figure out how to reconcile his love for the young woman with the most inviolable of Islam’s rules: No sex before marriage.

In Italian with English subtitles.

Thursday, October 15 to Saturday, October 17

Sunday, October 25: Live Q & A with the director

Michelangelo – Infinito (Michelangelo – Endless)

Italy, 2018

Emanuele Imbucci, Director

“Michelangelo – Endless” is the first art movie ever made about the absolute genius of the Renaissance and history of universal art: Michelangelo Buonarroti. A docufilm for the big screen, where cinema’s and art’s worlds meet in order to trace the portrait of the secretive as well as troubled man, capable of sharp contrasts and strong passions, but also showing great courage when it comes to supporting his beliefs and ideologies. An immortal personality, one of the greatest artists the world has ever seen, whose rich and varied artistic production became an everlasting sign in the history of universal art. This astonishing movie, shot with the most advanced filming technologies, retraces the main sculptural and pictorial production of Michelangelo, showcasing his most famous masterpieces: the Sistine Chapel ceiling, the Pietà, David, Moses, the Universal Judgement, Saint Peter’s Dome, Tondo Doni, and more.

In Italian with English subtitles.


Thursday, October 22 to Saturday, October 24

Sunday, October 18: Live Q & A with the director


Italy / Sweden, 2019

Adele Tulli, Director

Original and visually daring, "Normal" is a genre-bending documentary that reflects on how female and male identities are performed in everyday interactions, through a collage of immersive scenes filmed all over Italy. Capturing some of the most iconic moments in people’s lives, from birth to adulthood, this film reveals how our gender defines us in most of the things we do, affecting our gestures, desires, behaviors, and aspirations. At the gym or at the beach; in a disco or in a church; at fun-fairs, public parks, and beauty centers: “Normal” explores the collective choreographies of gender in ordinary and familiar situations, resulting in a ballet of moving images that depict the events while simultaneously meditating on their significance. Do we live in a world of constant performance? With its open form and contemplative pace, “Normal” offers a riveting experience into the spectacle of gender in everyday life, inviting the audience to question and unravel the very idea of normality.

Thursday, October 29 to Saturday, October 31

Sunday, November 1: Live Q & A with the director and novelist

Mio fratello rincorre i dinosauri (My Brother Chases Dinosaurs)

David di Donatello 2020 – David Giovani Award

Italy / Spain, 2019

Stefano Cipani, Director

Jack dotes on his younger brother Gio, whom he believes has superhero powers—but the truth about Gio is a little different, as Jack discovers during his difficult teenage years in this warm family dramedy. Jack always wanted a little brother, and when Gio is born, he believes his parents when they tell him that Gio is a superhero with amazing powers. As he grows up, however, Jack realizes that his brother actually has Down syndrome, a condition that Jack decides to keep secret in high school. When the truth comes out, Jack learns that his brother's energy, vitality, and unique perspective can indeed change the world—just like a superhero.

In Italian with English subtitles.


Closing Event & Award Ceremony

Sunday, November 8

2020 Ristretto Awards Short Films in Contention
Available October 1 to November 1

Plastic Love, by Thomas Morelli

Italy, 2020, 13 minutes

A mysterious man is hiding a secret in a town in Italy on a beautiful lake. Two young siblings are determined to unveil the truth…

Idda, by Salvatore Sclafani

Italy, 2019, 14 minutes

A few weeks before her wedding, a young woman rejoins her female cousin and an old attraction is still in the air.

Rebirth, by Eleonora Privitera

Italy, 2020, 21 minutes

Grazia and Vincenzo have rooted their lives in a passionate love for more than 4o years. Suddenly everything changes when the repercussion of Vincenzo’s cancer leaves Grazia struggling to just get them through the day.

Air of Elba, by Michael Monni, Matteo Sardi

Italy, 2019, 28 minutes

Alfredo is a simple young guy who lives on the Island of Elba, with the bizarre dream of becoming a successful inventor.

Nature’s Crime (Delitto naturale), by Valentina Bertuzzi

Italy, 2019, 15 minutes

When Aida’s best friend, Lola, goes missing from class, Aida tries to find her and discovers parts of their school that would be better off if they were left peaceful…

Matilde’s First Day (Il primo giorno di Matilde), by Rosario Capozzolo

Italy, 2019, 10 minutes

Today is Matilde’s first day of school. Her father Claudio is supposed to take her, but he doesn’t show up. So, her grandfather decides to walk Matilde, but Claudio joins them to talk with her about something important.

The World Cup in A Square (Il mondiale in piazza), by Vito Palmieri

Italy, 2018, 15 minutes

November 2017: the Italian national soccer team does not qualify for the 2018 World Cup. In the deep South of Italy, a group of football fans decide to set up a parallel yet local “World Cup” event to be played right in their hometown square. Italy will compete against other national team made by immigrants who feel Italian 100%. We will see which team will prevail!

Our concert (Il nostro concerto), by Francesco Piras

Italy, 2019, 15 minutes

Antonio is an old, eccentric retired man who lives alone in an apartment in the center of Cagliari. He spends his days in a chat room, where he sings classic Italian songs. There he meets Karen, a German pianist and they become friends. But Karen is hiding a secret.

The Load (Il fagotto), by Giulia Giapponesi

Italy, 2019, 15 minutes

Decline of population is making towns disappear. The Government is set pressing measures and women who don’t contribute to the demographic future of the Country are seen as a problem. Bianca and Vittoria are at the opposite stage of their fertility time. Their encounter forces them to choose the direction of their future.

Pizza Boy, by Gianluca Zonta

Italy, 2019, 15 minutes

Saba, from Georgia, works as a pizza delivery boy in Bologna. During his evening shift he receives an important phone call: his son is about to be born. Forced to finish his deliveries, Saba goes through the city frantically, hoping to be at the hospital on time.

Scena madre, by Giuseppe Zampella

Italy, 2019, 15 minutes

In an underground theater, Sara is rehearsing a monologue while outside the theater, a mysterious woman seems to be keeping Sara in check. In a state of stage panic, Sara will try to tell everyone who she really is.

Thunderbolts And Lightning Strikes (Fulmini e saette), by Daniele Lince

Italy, 2019, 6 minutes

The Lightning Woman can move at supersonic speed and teleport, watching over the city and its inhabitants. But to face everyday life, sometimes superpowers are not enough.

When in Rome (Paese che vai), by Luca Padrini

Italy, 2020, 11 minutes

Set in a small town in the countryside, young and handsome Alfredo comes back home after a long time along with his friend Mattia, an African American man. After meeting Alfredo’s grandmother, the sweet and crazy Donna Maria, the two go see Alfredo’s father, Sor Pucci. Alfredo wants to talk to his old-fashioned father about his secret…

Rifugi, by Luca Cutini

Italy, 2019, 15 minutes

Italy, between 1943 and 1944: many Italian cities are bombed by the US air force. To protect themselves from the raids, hundreds of men, women and children are forced to take refuge in the underground tunnels of a small town. Some men organize expeditions looking for supplies for the community, putting their lives at risk.

Burner of Ships, by Leonardo Campaner

Italy, 2019, 20 minutes

When fourteen-year-old Nausicaa’s bourgeois parents welcome a young migrant into their home in the Italian countryside, she develops an infatuation for the new guest.

*Subject to change



San Diego Italian Film Festival Passes for feStivale are now available in four categories, with early bird pricing which ends Sunday, September 13.


The highest-level pass gives you exclusive access to all the films, shorts, and events, plus supporting the SDIFF through these challenging times.

  • Access to 5 Features and 15 Shorts
  • Access to interactive film maker Q&As and Panel Discussions
  • Exclusive early access to panel discussion to meet the directors
  • Access to Launch Event
  • Access to Closing Ceremony and Shorts Competition Award
  • Shorts Competition Voting
  • Discounts with Festival Partners
  • Recognition as supporting donor to SDIFF
  • Includes 1-Year SDIFF Membership
  • SD Italian Film Festival branded tee-shirt mailed to your home (U.S. Only)

ADVOCATE / $130   SALE $100

Exclusive access to all films, shorts, and events, including panel discussions with the filmmakers and voting for the best shorts.

  • Access to 5 Features and 15 Shorts
  • Access to interactive filmmaker Q&As and Panel Discussions
  • Exclusive early access to panel discussion to meet the directors
  • Access to Launch Event
  • Access to Closing Ceremony and Shorts Competition Award
  • Shorts Competition Voting
  • Discounts with Festival Partners

ACTIVIST / $75   SALE $60

Five features, Q&As and panels with experts and special guests.

  • Access to 5 Features
  • Access to interactive filmmaker Q&As and Panel Discussions (includes features only)
  • Feature Film Voting


Supporting the filmmakers of the future with access to short films and discussions with the directors, and voting for favorites!

  • Access to 15 Shorts
  • Access to interactive filmmaker Q&As and Panel Discussions (includes shorts only)
  • Access to Closing Ceremony and Shorts Competition Award
  • Shorts Competition Voting

All feStivale 2020 events and films and ticket packages can be found on the website:

The San Diego Italian Film Festival is supported in part by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture, San Diego County, the California Arts Council, Istituto Italiano di Cultura – Los Angeles, and the Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego.

About the San Diego Italian Film Festival

Now celebrating its 14th season, the San Diego Italian Film Festival (SDIFF), a not-for-profit 501c(3) organization, has made its mark on the local landscape, becoming among the most beloved film festivals San Diego has to offer. Each year it brings the passion, love, comedy, despair, and hope of the best of Italian film to San Diego, affording audiences the opportunity to learn about Italian film from scholars and directors who continue to influence filmmaking throughout the world.

The San Diego Italian Film Festival is about more than just movies—it is about identity, history, and a shared appreciation of Italian culture and great cinema. In a word, it is about community, a place for a diverse audience of film lovers and those who appreciate Italian culture. Movies or events such as CineCucina or Dine on the Docks are presented year-round, celebrating Italian film and cuisine.

San Diego Italian Film Festival

Diana Agostini, Executive Director

Antonio Iannotta, Artistic Director

325 W. Washington St. #2100, San Diego, CA 92103

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Media contact: Stephanie Thompson Communications, 619-840-7353