Traveling Italian pic fest sets Gotham, S.F. dates

ROME — Organizers have set the lineup of recent Italian independent features to have their North American premieres in the seventh annual NICE (New Italian Cinema Events) festival, Friday through Nov. 13 at New York’s Quad Cinemas, and Nov. 14-20 at the Delancey St. Foundation Screening Room in San Francisco.

The eclectic selection of mostly low-budget productions kicks off with experimentalist Giuseppe Gaudino’s lyrical portrait of the inhabitants of a poor quarter of Naples in ancient and modern times, “Moonspins Between Land and Sea,” which bowed in competition at the Venice fest this fall.

Director Sandro Baldoni, who won the audience-voted City of Florence Prize at NICE in 1995 with his debut, “Weird Tales,” returns this year with his sophomore feature, “Satisfaction or Your Money Back,” a satire on the ad industry.

Other comedies include Stefano Reali’s screen transfer of his hit play, “Physical Jerks,” about corrupt exploiters of the bureaucratic chaos in Italy’s state hospitals, and Davide Ferrario’s wry look at Gen-X malaise, “We All Fall Down.”

Screenwriter-turned-director Francesco Bernini’s political thriller, “The Grey Zone,” which screened in the Intl. Critics Week at Cannes this year, uses a terrorist bombing in the 1970s as its backdrop, while Edoardo Winspeare’s World War II drama, “Pizzicata,” centers on an American fighter pilot shot down over southern Italy.

Completing the lineup is debuting director Matteo Garrone’s look at the immigrant experience in Italy, “Land In-Between,” which started life as a short and was bulked up to feature length using film stock won at Nanni Moretti’s Sacher Film Festival. Seven new Italian shorts also will be screened in the program.

In San Francisco only, a special showing is scheduled Nov. 14 of Roberto Faenza’s costume drama, “Marianna Ucria,” which recounts the emancipation and liberation of a deaf-mute girl in male-dominated 18th-century Sicily. Cast includes Philippe Noiret, Laura Morante and Laura Betti.

NICE is a nonprofit cultural association that tours seasons of Italian indie pics to several cities each year. Among stops planned for 1998 are Morocco, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Strasbourg, and for the first time, Moscow, Paris, Amsterdam and Buenos Aires.

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