Articles by: Elsa Bazzini

  • Art & Culture

    "Gomorrah" & "Il Divo." Italy Conquers Cannes

    France may have won its first Palme d’Or since 1987 at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, but according to the Italian press the greatest winner was Italian cinema. Dubbed last year as “depressing” by Quentin Tarantino and left out of the main competition, it now seems that Italian movies – at least according to the French festival – are finally getting back on track. Indeed, the grand prix this year went to Matteo Garrone’s Gomorrah while the jury prize was presented to Paolo Sorrentino’s Il Divo.



    Matteo Garrone’s first film Terra di mezzo won the special jury prize in Turin in 1996. His following films Guests (1998), Estate romana (2000), and The Embalmer (2002) achieved moderate success, and in 2004 he presented First Love at the Berlinale. Gomorrah is adapted from Roberto Saviano’s bestseller and presents a revealing picture of the organized crime network in Naples, the Camorra.


    Paolo Sorrentino has competed twice for the Palme d’Or, in 2004 with The Consequences of Love and in 2006 with The Family Friend. Il Divo, which refers to Giulio Andreotti, an Italian politician whose career began in 1947 and continues today, paints a controversial portrait of this notorious statesman.


    While critics around the world praise the courage of the two young filmmakers who exposed these complex and contentious topics, Mr. Andreotti states: “If I could take a share of the profits I’d be even happier.” Both directors commend the Italian government, namely the Ministry of Culture, for the financial support given to their work.


    It was the best result for Italian cinema in Cannes since 1972, when two Italian movies shared the Palme d’Or.


    (Edited by Giulia Prestia)

  • Facts & Stories

    Ancient Lights for an Ancient Treasure

    Thanks to years of research by Giuseppe Passeri, coordinator of the event for the company Nona Invicta, and the partial funding of the Rome municipal authorities, it has been possible to recreate the famous Michelangelo’s fireworks. The show will be the result of the examination of ancient documents from across Europe that allowed to reproduce firework-making materials identical to those used in Michelangelo's time.

    At the beginning of the 16th century the great Michelangelo created for Pope Julius II an elaborate fireworks show. The extraordinary spectacle was called “Girandola”. The Italian genius created an artistic sequence of explosions, shifting for the first time in history the focus during a firework show from noise to colour, that typically lasted around 90 minutes. It was quite different from modern firework shows, since it used few explosives and focused on transparency and colour definition. The Girandola was such a hit that it was quickly reproduced and soon became a key element of all largest celebrations in Rome. It was last seen in the Eternal City in 1834. Experts believe that the Girandola disappeared due to scarcity of materials such as lycopodium, a plant that grew in the Ural mountains and provided stability to fireworks.

    The show will certainly color the Roman sky. According to Passeri, ''The Girandola was an unmistakably baroque event, an astounding play of colours wedded to its surroundings''. His team has done its best to reproduce the original shape of the fireworks, which were meant to mimic the eruption of Stromboli, the famous volcano off the Sicilian coast. If the 2008 Girandola resembles the ancient ones, it will be a wonderful spectacle, ''a kind of elaborate game, like a fountain transformed into fire''.

  • Life & People

    One Thousand Vintage Miles

    Tazio Nuvolari, Alberto Ascari, Juan Manuel Fangio, Sterling Moss. These are the names of the people that made of an Italian endurance racing contest ''the world's greatest road race'' between 1928 and 1957, according to Enzo Ferrari’s words.

    The contest is called Mille Miglia, Italian for “one thousand miles”, and used to be a typical road race with a number of stops around Italy. It starts in Brescia, goes all the way to Rome and ends in Brescia again. Nowadays it became a prestigious parade opened only to cars from the race’s times (1928-1957). Spectators can admire the greatest Italian cars of all times, from Alfa Romeos to Bugattis, Lancias, Maserattis and, of course, the unmistakeable red Ferraris. It is open of course to some foreign great vehicles, such as vintage Aston Martins, Mercedes and Porches, but it is mostly an Italians-do-it-better show!

    On its four-day trek, the “race” aims to promote all 36 Italian cities and towns it goes through. The event is an international attraction that will soon hit places like Geneva, London, New York, Munich and Moscow thanks to an international road show. The success around the world is more than incredible. Organizers received indeed around 1,700 applications from all five continents.

    Internationally acclaimed VIP participants this year include former Formula 1 drivers Jochen Mass and Mika Hakkinen, Moscow Mayor Yuriy Luzhkov, the head of the Brembo brakes company Alberto Bombassi and Fuji film and electronics boss Takao Ebi. On the Italian side Tod's shoes owner Diego della Valle and Prada CEO and former Luna Rossa America's Cup boss Patrizio Bertelli will be attending.

    375 vintage will depart Thursday evening from Viale Venezia on their way to Ferrara. They are expected to arrive in Rome on early Friday, where they will stay for the day. The parade will leave the Eternal City on Saturday, getting in Brescia during the night, right in time for a major public exposition on Sunday.


  • Facts & Stories

    Rock the Mafia, Andy Warhol Style

     Who are Filippo Bartoli and Alessandro Giglio? They’re two Sicilian architecture students from Palermo that decided to paint a pop-art-style graffiti mural depicting Matteo Messina Denaro, a fugitive mafia boss who is believed to have risen to the top of Cosa Nostra in Sicily and is famous for being a former Porsche-driving playboy who murdered a rival Trapani boss and strangled his three-months pregnant girlfriend.


    The mural is in the style of Andy Warhol and calls to mind his iconic portraits of Marilyn Monroe. They were painted on the back wall of Palermo’s cathedral and according to the artists they are “an artistic provocation to a city that is too silent and too immobile when it comes to art”. The painting remained undiscovered for more than three months, when all of a sudden it was spotted by a local weekly that published pictures of the work along with an article about Messina Denaro. The national media then got their hands on the pictures and the mural was catapulted into the national and international spotlight. Even though, truth be told, pictures of the mural had first been taken in January, shortly after its completion, and published by a Sicilian blog website. This on-the-fly publication suggests that citizen journalism is not only an interesting phenomenon, but also has the potential to anticipate the national news by several months.


    When the story cracked, segments of the Italian national media and police thought the work was trying to celebrate organized crime. This pushed the authors to come out in the open and explain something that according to them “should not need explaining”. In their words, “this was just an artistic gesture, and since when does an artist have to justify what he did?”


    Another identical copy of the painting was made on a wall near the University of Palermo's law school, and a second copy was later painted at Catania's Bellini Theater. The Theater’s director Antonio Fiumefreddo thanked the artists for the provocation.


    These two young artists are rocking the Mafia right under their noses—in impeccable Warhol style no less!