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January 7, 2020

San Diego Italian Film Festival Collaborates with Film Geeks SD for “A Year of Italian Genre Cinema” in 2020

The San Diego Italian Film Festival (SDIFF) is collaborating with Film Geeks SD to present a year-long monthly series of Italian genre films that showcase the variety and range of Italian cinema, many of which have never been screened in San Diego before. 

“We could not be more excited to kick off our programming with this partnership with Film Geeks SD,” says executive director Diana Agostini. “At SDIFF we mostly focus on contemporary Italian movies, but we believe in the power and the importance of our artistic history and classics also in light of such an important year ahead for our organization and our communities. Our audience will love being able to travel in time from masterpieces of the ’50s all the way to the ’80s, and to explore expressions of Italian societal commentaries through a wide variety of genres. This is a one-time opportunity to watch on the big screen some golden and hard-to-find gems!”

This is Film Geeks SD’s sixth year of programming at Digital Gym Cinema on El Cajon Blvd. The theme of Italian Genre Cinema was selected by a vote by the group’s Facebook followers. The series takes viewers through the evolution of Italian popular cinema starting in the 1950s with the peplum or sword-and-sandal films, then moving on to the 1960s with Spaghetti Westerns and then finishing in the ’70s and ’80s with giallo and poliziotteschi. SDIFF artistic director Antonio Iannotta will introduce and provide context for the films, and each film will be preceded by trailers of other films that helped to define the genre. Film Geeks SD will also showcase the Italian comedy Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (Ieri, oggi, domani) at SDIFF in the Fall.

KPBS Cinema Junkie host Beth Accomando and Horrible Imaginings Film Festival founder Miguel Rodriguez will be on hand to present the films and there will be themed treats at each screening.

The films, which range from crime thrillers to comedies to Westerns, will be screened at the Digital Gym Cinema, Media Arts Center, 2921 El Cajon Blvd. in North Park. Full schedule (all films screen at 7:30pm):

January 12 The Colossus of Rhodes (Il Colosso di Rodi), 1961

An Italian “sword and sandal” film co-written and directed by Sergio Leone. Starring Rory Calhoun, it is a fictional account of the island of Rhodes during its Classical period in the late third century, before it came under Roman control.

February 2 Hercules in the Haunted World (Ercole al centro della terra), 1961

Another Italian epic of the Ancient World, directed by Mario Bava. British bodybuilder Reg Park plays Hercules while British actor Christopher Lee appears as Hercules' nemesis, Lico. 

March 3 After the Fox (Caccia alla volpe), 1966

A British–Italian heist comedy directed by Vittorio De Sica and starring Peter Sellers, Victor Mature, and Britt Ekland. The English-language screenplay is by Neil Simon and De Sica's longtime collaborator Cesare Zavattini.

April 5 For a Few Dollars More (Per qualche dollaro in più), 1965

A classic Spaghetti Western directed by Sergio Leone starring Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef as bounty hunters and Gian Maria Volonté and Klaus Kinski as the villains. The second part of what is commonly known as the Dollars Trilogy, following A Fistful of Dollars and preceding The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

May 3 Duck, You Sucker! (Giù la testa), 1971

Also known as A Fistful of Dynamite and Once Upon a Time...the Revolution, this epic Zapata Western film directed and co-written by Sergio Leone stars Rod Steiger, James Coburn, and Romolo Valli and is set during the Mexico Revolution of the 1910s. The second film of Leone’s Once Upon a Time Trilogy, which includes the previous Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) and the subsequent Once Upon a Time in America (1984), it’s the last Western directed by Leone, and considered by some to be one of his most overlooked films.

June 7 Death Rides a Horse (Da uomo a uomo), 1967

A Spaghetti Western directed by Giulio Petroni, written by Luciano Vincenzoni and starring Lee Van Cleef and John Phillip Law.

July 5 Compañeros (Vamos a matar, compañeros), 1970

A Zapata Western film directed by Sergio Corbucci, starring Franco Nero, Tomas Milian, Jack Palance, and Fernando Rey. Compañeros is one of Corbucci's best-known Westerns and has been compared to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, as it intertwines the paths of several characters in the middle of a conflict, but takes place during the Mexican Revolution instead of the American Civil War.

August 2 Operation Kid Brother (O.K. Connery), 1967 

Originally released as O.K. Connery, Operation Kid Brother is an Italian Eurospy comedy film directed by Alberto De Martino. The Spy-Fi plot involves the brother of the British spy James Bond, played by Neil Connery (the actual brother of Bond star Sean Connery) who is obliged to take the lead in foiling a world-domination plot. The film's cast included several actors from the James Bond film series.

September 13 A  Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (Una lucertola con la pelle di 

donna), 1971

An Italian giallo (crime-horror) film directed by Lucio Fulci, later re-released in the US as Schizoid. Set in London, the film follows Carol Hammond (Florinda Bolkan), the daughter of a respected politician, who experiences a series of vivid, psychedelic nightmares consisting of depraved sex orgies and LSD use.

October 4 All the Colors of the Dark (Tutti i colori del buio), 1972

This giallo film directed by Sergio Martino and starring Edwige Fenech, George Hilton and George Rigaud was also released under the alternate titles Day of the Maniac and They're Coming to Get You!. Jane, who lives in London with her boyfriend Richard, is plagued by nightmares of a knife-wielding, blue-eyed man, but every remedy she seeks just brings her nightmares to life.

November 3 The Big Racket (Il grande racket), 1976 

An Italian poliziottesco (crime-action) film directed by Enzo G. Castellari, starring Fabio Testi as a police inspector who takes on a gang of hoodlums who terrorize an Italian city by extorting cash from local shop and bar owners.

December 6 Contraband (Luca il contrabbandiere), 1980

A poliziottesco film directed by Lucio Fulci, set in Naples, where Luca Di Angelo (Fabio Testi) and his brother Michele use speedboats to smuggle cigarettes, and find themselves between two contraband bosses after they lose a load. 

Film Geeks SD are San Diego’s most prominent film programmers from Horrible Imaginings Film Fest, Pac Arts Movement, Cinema Junkie, FilmOut San Diego, the San Diego Italian Film Festival, and more, banding together to bring solid independent genre and unique cinema to San Diego via the nonprofit Media Arts Center San Diego.

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