The 2019 edition of the Italian Contemporary Film Festival, presented by IC Savings and in affiliation with Fare Cinema, concluded with an elegant music-themed Closing Gala and Awards Ceremony at the posh The Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Toronto, hosted by Canadian fashion royalty, Jeanne Beker. Beginning with a beautiful musical tribute by composer and director Davide Cavuti to the great Maestro Nicola Piovani, the night was packed with prestigious awards, emotional presentations and an intimate conversation with producer and screenwriter of the Oscar-winning film for Best Picture, Green Book, Nick Vallelonga.
He was presented with the 2019 ICFF Empire Community Award for his for his latest film, Green Book, based on the true life story of his father, known as ‘Tony Lip’. The film highlights the unique friendship between his father and famous African-American musician, Dr. Don Shirley, as they set out on a concert tour of the Deep South in the early 1960s. The award was presented by Miles Dale, winner of last year’s Empire Community Award, for his work on the 2018 Oscar-winning film, The Shape of Water.
Vallelonga seemed genuinely surprised to win, saying “This is quite an honour… To be here in Toronto where we won the TIFF – that’s where it started for us – is very very special, very emotional.”
The most prestigious award of the year, the 2019 ICFF Lifetime Achievement Award, went to another Oscar winner, composer Nicola Piovani, for his outstanding contributions to music in movies. Piovani is responsible for more than 150 film scores, including the soundtrack to Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful/La vita è bella, which earned the great Maestro the 1999 Academy Award for Best Original Score.
Piovani received a standing ovation by a packed house during his sold-out performance at the TIFF Bell Lightbox for ICFF Musica. The exclusive concert, entitled Music is Dangerous/La musica è pericolosa, culminated with the presentation of his award, which he graciously accepted, thanking the crowd and saying “This was a very emotional night for me. It was my first time playing in Toronto, but I hope it’s not the last.”
Co-founder and Artistic Director, Cristiano de Florentiis, was thrilled with this year’s turnout. “I am very proud to say that over the years, our Festival has grown beyond the parameters of the Italian community. We have been embraced by the entire country… and we have evolved into something multi-artistic and multi-disciplinary, building bridges into the Canadian cultural mosaic.”
As always, the IC Savings Award recognizes the contributions of a film with important social and cultural elements shared by Italy and Canada. This year’s prize went to the widely-loved co-production From the Vine, about rediscovering our roots and the importance of maintaining the traditions that keep us connected to our heritage. The film had its world premiere at ICFF 2019. Awards were presented to Director Sean Cisterna, and Executive Producer Ken Cancellara, who authored the book Finding Marco, on which the film is based.
President and Artistic Director of the Italian Academy of Cinema, Piera Detassis, accepted the ICFF 2019 Special Achievement Award via video message to the crowd of more than 400 people at the Closing Gala. Detassis is one of the most widely respected and influential people in Italian cinema today, and the Festival was proud to welcome her as the Honourary President of the TFCA Award Jury, made up of Liam Lacey, Linda Barnard, Karen Gordon and Thom Ernst. Detassis announced the jury’s choice in her video message.
The 2019 ICFF Film Critics Award was given to Daughter of Mine/Figlia Mia, directed by Laura Bispuri. The film is about a young girl growing up in a Sardinian village, who, on her tenth birthday, learns she has two mothers; the one who raised her and the one who gave birth to her.
For the first time in Festival history, two films tied for top choice as voted by the audience. The 2019 ICFF People’s Choice Award was a draw, making both Born Twice/Nati 2 volte, directed by Pierluigi Di Lallo, and I Am Mia/Io sono Mia this year’s big winners!
Io sono Mia was produced by ICFF Special Guest Star, Luca Barbareschi, and RAI Fiction. Barbareschi was presented the 2019 ICFF Special Achievement Award for Best Producer at a screening of the film in Toronto, earlier on in the Festival. Barbareschi, the multitalented and multi-award-winning actor, director, producer and television personality, was a huge presence at this year’s Festival, bringing with him two other films: the hilarious comedy, Airplane Mode/Modalità aereo, and the 2019 Opening Film, Dolceroma, in which he also stars.
Director of RAI Italia, Marco Giudici, accepted the award for Io Sono Mia at the Closing Gala. The film is the dramatic biopic of the famous Italian songstress Mia Martini, whose life in the spotlight was marred by rumours that she carried a curse, until her eventual demise. Giudici also took home the 2019 ICFF Special Achievement Award for his countless contributions to television and his efforts in establishing a global cultural connection through the channel’s daily program, Italia con voi. Another RAI co-production, My Brilliant Friend/L’amica genial, created in association with HBO, screened at this year’s Festival in a special free presentation of the first episode of the series. Producer Sara Polese accepted the 2019 ICFF Special Achievement Award in Fiction for her work on the series.
ICFF Special Achievement Awards were handed out to superstar guests, Ezio Greggio and Virginia Raffaele. Greggio was thrilled to be honoured on stage at the 2019 Closing Gala, and delighted guests with his comedic antics and Toronto-themed jokes. He also travelled to Niagara, Ottawa and Montreal throughout the Festival.
Raffaele was greeted by large crowds of adoring fans across the GTA, and was awarded ahead of the Vaughan screening of Come quando fuori piove, a miniseries where she plays all four of the main characters.
Composer and director, Davide Cavuti, received the 2019 ICFF Award of Excellence for his exceptional work, Lectura Ovidii, a docudrama paying homage to the classic Roman poet, Ovid, presented at ICFF Letteratura.
The 2019 ICFF Award of Excellence was given to Marco Spagnoli for his groundbreaking 360-degree film, 7 Miracles/7 Miracoli, which he discussed at length as part of a fascinating session at this year’s ICFF Industry Day, called Art Meets Technology. Spagnoli also presented a short film at this year’s Festival, entitled Sweetheart.
Italian-Canadian actress Jennifer Dale took home the 2019 ICFF Special Achievement Award for Best Actress. Her latest film, Into Invisible Light, directed by Shelagh Carter, screened at this year’s Festival.
Lucia Bulgheroni’s Inanimate won the 2019 ICFF Best Short Award, presented by Short Film Jury President Giacomo Gianniotti, the Italian-Canadian star of Grey’s Anatomy.
The 2019 ICFF Youth Award went to Nicolas Vanier’s Belle et Sébastien, screened by more than 1000 students during the ICFF Youth Festival in April.
The Montreal leg of the Festival was highlighted by an homage to the great Italian director and screenwriter, Bernardo Bertolucci, who passed away last year. An exclusive screening of his classic film The Conformist/Il conformista was presented by famed director Jacopo Quadri, who worked on many of Bertolucci’s films. His latest documentary, Homage to Bertolucci/Omaggio a Bertolucci, was also screened in Montreal during ICFF 2019.
Meanwhile, across the country, many other classic films were screened in Vancouver. At the Rio Theatre, such films included the 1975 thriller, Deep Red/Profondo rosso, Dario Argento’s Suspiria, and the silent classic Dante’s Inferno, accompanied by a very special live score performance by Maurizio Guarini of the band Goblin.
The 8th edition of the Italian Contemporary Film Festival, which ran during Italian Heritage Month, from June 13th to the 21st, in eight cities across the country – Toronto, Vaughan, Hamilton, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Montreal, Quebec, Ottawa and Vancouver – was the largest and most successful to date. With more Special Events than ever before, the 2019 edition began with a massive Opening Party in the atrium of one of Toronto’s best Italian restaurants, Ricarda’s, at the QRC West. This was followed by eight action-packed days filled with dozens of screenings and spectacular events, including an outdoor screening at ICFF in the Vineyard; ICFF MODA at Square One, a celebration of Italian fashion; and ICFF Architettura & Design, two days of dynamic discussion on and analysis of some of the greatest Italian influencers of our time.
For more information on ICFF 2019, a full list of special guests and award-winners and details on our monthly program, please visit www.icff.ca.