Talk about Italian cinema and the first thing that probably comes to one’s mind is The Godfather (1972). Marlon Brando and Al Pacino’s timeless film set the benchmark for crime drama in world cinema. So much so that in the works that followed across the world, one couldn’t help but find instances from the cult movie directed by Francis Ford Coppola and inspired by the 1969 novel of the same name by Italian American author Mario Puzo.
The film left a deep impact in India. Bollywood’s own Dharmatma (1975) and Ram Gopal Varma’s Sarkar (2005) found their inspiration from The Godfather, as they localised the story and set them in the backdrop of the underworld.
But what also continues to strike with Indians is the emphasis on family values—a trait that India and Italy closely share. “Don’t ever take sides with anyone against the family. Ever,” goes the iconic quote by protagonist Michael Corleone in the film.
This commonality, the shared values and importance of human relations, family and community are what bind Italy and India, both of which are rich in terms of culture and soft power, believes Vincenzo de Luca, the ambassador of Italy to India.
De Luca says the popularity of Indian films in Italy and vice versa has played a big role in promoting Italian tourism in India and attracting Indians to Italy. “Italian movies are an attraction for India and Bollywood is a big attraction for tourists in Italy. This not only has an economic impact in both countries but is also helping in forming people-to-people relations,” he says, adding that Italy is increasingly becoming a lucrative site for Indian filmmakers to shoot. “There is a growing interest of Indian producers to shoot in Italy,” he adds.
According to de Luca, though special screenings like the recently-concluded ‘Italian Screens’ are some of the limited options to promote Italian films in India, they are happy that at least some people could come and witness their culture and cinema.
The screening night at the gardens of the Italian Embassy in Delhi was complete with top diplomats and industry veterans in attendance.
Six Italian films nominated for the David di Donatello, an award instituted by the Academy of Italian Cinema in 1955 for honouring the best Italian and foreign films released each year, were showcased at the festival.
The event was also held in Miami and Atlanta before coming to India and the screenings were held in PVR Cinemas in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Delhi and Kolkata in India. Some of the films that were presented at the festival included Il Buco by Michelangelo Frammartino, Sulla giostra by Giorgia Cecere, Qui rido io by Mario Martone, L’Arminuta by Giuseppe Bonito and Ariaferma by Leonardo di Costanzo.
After India, the fest travels to Los Angeles, Buenos Aires, Washington, New York, Seoul, Tel Aviv and Bogotà.