Italian festival runs Feb. 17-23

The U.S. preem of Bernardo Bertolucci’s “La Via del petrolio,” a rarely seen docu about the origins of petroleum, will kick off the Los Angeles Italy Film, Fashion & Food Festival, which runs Feb. 17-23.

Bertolucci’s richly researched reflection on “black gold,” the route it took from Persia to the West, and its crucial contemporary relevance, is a freshly restored print of the 1965 three-part original produced by pubcaster RAI.

“The first part is called ‘The Origins’ and was shot almost entirely in what is today Iran, which in those days was almost medieval,” Bertolucci — who shot the docu when he was 24 — reminisces to Daily Variety.

“It’s about the origins of petroleum. But it is also about the origins of civilization,” he said.

Bertolucci, 67, whose “The Last Emperor” won nine Oscars in 1987, has recently been awarded a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, joining a highly select set of Italian artists, including Rudolf Valentino, Anna Magnani, Arturo Toscanini, Enrico Caruso and Sophia Loren.

Currently unable to make the Rome/L.A. trek due to a bad back, Bertolucci will attend a ceremony marking that nod at a later date.

The third edition of Los Angeles Italy, chaired by Bobby Moresco, will also spotlight Italo helmers Carlo Lizzani, coming with Holocaust pic “Hotel Meina,” Citto Maselli, whose social drama “Civico Zero” is unspooling, and Mimmo Calopresti, who is bringing his food-and-film-themed “The Feast.”

Organized by Pascal Vicedomini’s Capri in the World Institute, with support from Italy’s culture ministry, the pre-Oscars Italo showcase will also fete Italy’s Academy Awards nominees. These include tunesmith Dario Marianelli, who wrote the “Atonement” score, his colleague Marco Beltrami, nommed for the “3:10 to Yuma” score, and freshman helmer Andrea Jublin, whose “Il Supplente” is nommed for live action short.

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