• Festivals

22nd Edition of “Open Roads: New Italian Cinema”

Italians comprise one of the largest immigrant groups in New York City. Italian cinema is also among the most internationally awarded industries.

No wonder then that Italy has become the center of a film festival at the Lincoln Center of New York City for more than two decades: “Open Roads: New Italian Cinema”, with a clear mission: “to offer North American audiences a diverse and extensive lineup of contemporary Italian films.” 

Its 22nd edition is running from June 1st to 8th, co-presented by Film at Lincoln Center (Dan Sullivan), and Cinecittà, Rome (Monique Catalino, Carla Cattani, Griselda Guerrasio, and Rossella Rinaldi). We talked to Sullivan by email on the eve of the opening about the curatorial work on this year 2023.


What makes “New Italian Cinema” different from other festivals?

What sets “Open Roads” apart from other festivals is its focus on the latest and most significant new Italian films that have not yet been brought to New York audiences. Typically, American audiences only get exposed to a relatively tiny fraction of new films being produced in Italy, and some of the most interesting figures working within the Italian film industry might fly under the radar if not for surveys such as this. For audiences who want to track the latest developments in Italian cinema in real-time without having to wait for a filmmaker’s career-summating retrospective down the road, “Open Roads” presents what we hope is an exemplary snapshot of what is happening in Italian cinema today.


How is the selection process made between NYC and Rome, for New York audiences?

The selection, which is done by me, in close consultation with our colleagues at Cinecittà, is only somewhat tailored to New York City audiences because they are among the most adventurous and open of any I can think of. At this point I think we’re confident that what they truly want to see are the best new films from Italy, not necessarily the handful of new films from Italy that we think are most likely to make them want to buy a ticket. We want to challenge and entertain our audience in equal measure, and if the festival is a success, it will be because it delivered on both of those promises.

The movies selected this year are the following (in alphabetical order):

Chiara / Susanna Nicchiarelli, 2022 (coproduced with Belgium)

The life of Saint Clare of Assisi, a onetime follower of Saint Francis, is inventively rendered in the latest film from Nicchiarelli.

Delta / Michele Vannucci, 2022

It unravels the conflict between two men -a fisherman and wildlife warden- with suspense, on the Po Delta in northern Italy, where tensions are rising among the small community that calls it home.

Dry / Paolo Virzì, 2022

Co-written by The Hummingbird (below) director Francesca Archibugi and set in Rome, Dry follows a bunch of self-absorbed characters as the drought and subsequent water shortage take their toll in Rome, exacerbating socioeconomic tensions in a post-Covid world and the vanity of humans in the face of global catastrophe.

Fireworks / Giuseppe Fiorello, 2023

Sicily, 1982: the budding romance between two male teenagers in an era inhospitable to their passion. A tragedy grows to seem all but certain. Based on a true story.

Like Turtles / Monica Dugo, 2022

Actress Monica Dugo makes her directorial feature debut in this tragicomic chronicle of a family’s dissolution in Rome, when the father decides to leave home.

Lord of the Ants / Gianni Amelio, 2022

About the poet/playwright Aldo Braibanti, who was jailed in 1968 under a Fascist-era anti-homosexuality law after it was revealed that he was living with a younger male lover. As he awaits trial, a journalist who is anxious to tell the real story visits him.

Margins / Niccolò Falsetti, 2022

A comedy about a punk band. Set in Grosseto in 2008, it follows three penniless band mates as they receive the biggest opportunity of their short careers, opening for an American hardcore band at a gig in Bologna. But the concert is canceled, setting in motion a chain of events.

My Summer with the Shark / Davide Gentile, 2023

A coming-of-age story in which the mysteries of youth and the oneiric cinema intermingle to paint a young man’s inner journey: a teenager off from school for the summer who is mourning the recent death of his father. It’s Gentile’s debut feature.

Princess / Roberto De Paolis, 2022

The lives of immigrants who do sex work turns comic in Roberto De Paolis’s sophomore feature. It was written in consultation with real-life Nigerian migrant sex workers, several of whom appear as themselves.

The Hummingbird / Francesca Archibugi, 2022 (coproduced with France)

Adapted from Sandro Veronesi’s Strega Prize-winning bestselling 2019 novel of the same title, Archibugi’s latest feature is at once epic and intimate, a fragmentary chronicle of love and familial ups and downs that spans six decades and three generations. The cast includes Golden Globe nominee Bérénice Bejo, and actor/director Nanni Moretti, who won the Palme d’Or at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival.


Strangeness / Roberto Andò, 2022

On a trip to his native Sicily in 1920 following many years away, Luigi Pirandello (later a Nobel Prize-winning playwright) encounters a pair of gravediggers/aspiring actors, whose amateurish nightly stage productions stir him out of a creative blockage and help him to arrive at the idea for what will ultimately become his signature work.

Mario Martone: Guest of Honor

Considered an expert on portraying Naples and the lives of its current and former inhabitants, Mario Martone (1959) has completed 17 films since his theatrical debut, Death of a Neapolitan Mathematician (1992), that was awarded at the Venice Film Festival.

His work includes shorts, TV movies, and documentaries. This year’s “Open Roads” honors Martone -a constant presence in the festival’s menu- by showcasing his most recent fiction film, Nostalgia (nominee to the Cannes’s Palme d’Or 2022), alongside two essential movies from his career: Troubling Love (1995, co-written with Elena Ferrante) and Leopardi (2014).