Giancarlo Giannini, who was the late great Lina Wertmüller’s muse, helmer Gabriele Muccino (“The Pursuit of Happyness”), and Teresa Saponangelo, star of Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Hand of God,” are among top honorees of the seventh edition of Filming Italy — Los Angeles, the bridge between Italy and Hollywood set to run as a hybrid event Feb. 28-March 3.
The celebration of Italy’s top film and TV titles is headed by longtime Italian industry promoter Tiziana Rocca, a former chief of the Taormina Film Festival. She proudly points out that its physical screenings, starting on March 1 in L.A.’s Harmony Gold Theater, are among the first inperson events in Los Angeles as ceremonies open up in the city.
Thanks to Rocca’s dogged determination Giannini, who starred in nine Wertmüller films, starting with sex comedy and social satire “The Seduction of Mimi,” is to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. According to a representative of the Walk of Fame, Giannini is scheduled to get it in 2023.
Giannini is also this year’s honorary Filming Italy president.
Muccino, who was chosen by Will Smith to helm “Happyness” and “Seven Pounds,” but more recently returned to Italy, is getting a dedicated day that will feature his Italian film comeback “A Casa Tutti Bene” (“There Is No Place Like Home”) and the hit pic’s TV series spinoff of the same title, plus a presentation of a book about his career.
Saponangelo stars as the fun-loving mother of protagonist Fabietto in “Hand of God,” which was nominated in the Oscar international feature category. She has a penchant for pulling practical jokes.
She is being celebrated with the event’s Power of Women award.
Saponangelo will also be holding a masterclass that will “explore the women in Sorrentino’s film,” Rocca says. Also being feted is Marina Cicogna, Italy’s first major female film producer, who in the exclusively male milieu of Italian and European film in the late 1960s shepherded films by Pier Paolo Pasolini, Liliana Cavani and Elio Petri. Cicogna has been recently portrayed in a doc directed by Andrea Bettinetti titled “Marina Cicogna — la vita e tutto il resto” that will screen and get a prize.
The event’s opener will be Gabriele Mainetti’s genre bender “Freaks Out,” set in 1943 Rome where four “freaks” who work in a circus are left to their own devices when the Eternal City is bombed by Allied forces. Roughly 50 titles comprising movies, series, docs and shorts will screen, offering a rich and varied window into Italy’s latest fare. The lineup also includes commercial comedies such as “Like a Cat on a Highway 2,” which has done brisk biz locally; hitmaker Alessandro Siani’s Christmas laffer “Chi ha incastrato Babbo Natale?”; and another Christmas pic — this one in English — called “The Good Witch of Christmas,” with William Baldwin and Tom Arnold, directed by Italy’s Francesco Cinquemani.
For the fest’s TV strand, Kasia Smutniak will be honored for her role as Livia Drusilla, the politically astute third wife of Emperor Augustus and mother of Emperor Tiberius, in the Sky series “Domina,” which examines Roman history through a female prism.
Star Salvatore Esposito will be on hand for a final salute to Neapolitan crimer “Gomorrah,” which recently launched its final season on HBO.
The memory of Ennio Morricone is subject to a tribute featuring a live performance by Italian operatic pop trio Il Volo.
The Filming Italy closer will be Italian director Alessio Della Valle’s art-world thriller “American Night,” starring Emile Hirsch, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Paz Vega. Anastacia, who sings the film’s title song marking the U.S. singer’s first original release since 2017, will be performing it live onstage.