This weekend, both the Yale and New Haven communities can enjoy a view of Italy from the seats of the Whitney Humanity Center auditorium.
Between Thursday and Sunday, the 10th annual Yale Festival of New Italian Cinema will screen five recent Italian films at the center. The screenings will be accompanied by guided discussions led by graduate students from Yale’s Italian Department.
Professor of Italian Millicent Marcus GRD ’74 explained that when she established the festival, she was looking to emulate a similar festival held at the University of Pennsylvania. Marcus said the festival aims to expose an American audience to new Italian films, many of which are not widely distributed in the United States.
“Our mission is to create a receptivity to the contemporary Italian film culture by bringing films,” Marcus said. “It’s been 10 wonderful years, and we’ve built up a huge following in the community.”
The “showcase film” of this year, according to Marcus, is “La Mafia Uccide Solo d’Estate” or “The Mafia Only Kills in the Summer,” which will be screened Saturday evening. The movie, Marcus explained, approaches its serious subject matter in a satirical, comedic manner. The film includes both the story of a young boy as he grows up and falls in love and a decades-long history of clashes between the Sicilian mafia and the Italian government.
Marcus said that the festival committee, which consists of Italian Department graduate students who travel to Italy and watch newly released movies, aims to select films that are accessible to most audiences because they do not require a great deal of background knowledge. She added that the five films also serve as social critiques.
“They are engaging but at the same time, [they] promote thought, and ultimately promote social commitment” Marcus said. “There’s a desire to create a better world.”
Chris Kaiser GRD ’15, a committee member for the festival, highlighted another film, “Il Capitale Humano” or “Human Capital,” which follows two families after a Jeep runs a cyclist off of a mountain road. Kaiser highlighted the film’s sense of mystery and heightened drama. The festival poster also labels the film as a piece of social commentary.
Kaiser noted that his responsibilities as a committee member in charge of the screening for “Il Capitale Humano” include facilitating a post-screening discussion between audience members. He emphasized the diversity of the festival’s audience, which has historically included not only Yale faculty and students, but also many individuals from New Haven’s Italian-American community.
“I want to put these different voices in touch with each other,” Kaiser said.
Luca Peretti GRD ’17, another member on the committee, said that the festival helps to give audience members “a small map of Italy.” He noted that over the course of its existence, the festival’s turnout has grown to a point where attendees fill the WHC auditorium.
Festival organizers emphasized that the festival’s loyal audience base stems from its established connection with the Elm City’s Italian-American community over the past 10 years.
Marcus said the festival emulates the community experience of going to a movie theater in the small towns of 1940s Italy, noting that the theater was often the “only place where people found entertainment and community.”