Gina Lollobrigida Shines on the Walk of Fame
“When the Hollywood Chambers saw Gina’s curriculum they asked me, but she doesn’t already have a star?” recounted Tiziana Rocca, a leader in the field of public relations with her company Tiziana Rocca Communication, and a friend of Gina Lollobrigida’s for years. It is strange, in fact, to think that the name of one of the few Italian actresses that has been capable of imposing herself on Hollywood as a star of such high magnitude has not already been immortalized on the famous catwalk.
The idea to honor Lollobrigida came from Tiziana Rocca, for the occasion of the actress’ birthday this past July 4th. “In the many years I have been very close to Gina, I have worked on many initiatives with her and I have also celebrated her beautiful ‘30 plus 30 plus 30,’ as she likes to say. At the beginning of last year she asked me to organize a series of events to celebrate this memorable event: 40 years of her career, 90 years of age. I saw that Gina was missing in the history of the Walk of Fame, and I wanted to surprise her. Through organizing my festival Filming on Italy in Los Angeles for 30 years, I have already collaborated with the Chamber of Commerce,” continued Rocca, “I immediately made a request to all the jurors to put Gina on the their list of candidates. It was then voted unanimously.”
Gina Lollobrigida: an Immortal Star
Lollobrigida showed great emotion as she shared with us the joy of rediscovering an America still so affectionate towards her: “I am moved, because I did not imagine that after so many years the American public still regarded me with so much affection. When I arrived in Hollywood for the first time in 1950, at the beginning of my career, I was surprised that they considered me a big star. MGM (the historic film production company), with whom I made my first film with Frank Sinatra, treated me like a queen and fulfilled my every wish.”
Hollywood has always represented “a mix of emotions and incredible memories,” as the actress revealed to us: “I have always had a soft spot for America and I have always returned here, even after I stopped working in film.” Gina’s career needs no introduction, she worked with the greats, from Humphrey Bogart to Rock Hudson, Frank Sinatra and Sean Connery; she has won awards and recognitions including the Golden Globe for Robert Mulligan’s Come September (Torna a settembre), as well as the Nastro d’Argento both for Pane amore e fantasia alongside Vittorio de Sica, directed by Luigi Comencini, and for Venere imperiale. She has distinguished the name of italian cinema, embodying an iconographic ideal of unattainable beauty and dramatic versatility. But her status as an actress and sex symbol, which has rendered her among the most desired Italian women in the world, is just the tip of the iceberg for this multifaceted artistic talent.
"In America they certainly know me as an actress,” replied Lollobrigida when we asked her what and how much of her being Italian she communicated to the American public, “But I hope to come to the USA soon to present a sculpture exhibition. When the public of other countries have seen my sculptures, for example in Moscow at the Pushkin Museum, they tell me: We thought we knew Mrs. Lollobrigida, but now we can tell who she really is, she has moved us with her sculptures, her profound sensibility, her love for precision, the sentiment that comes forth from her works.”
There is the artist Gina Lollobrigida still to be discovered, and surely events like the laying of her star on the Walk of Fame and the celebration of her career through Filming on Italy are important occasions to remind Hollywood of the fervor of talent that Italy has gifted, and continues to gift, to the worlds of cinema and art in general.
Filming on Italy: Cinema and Solidarity
This is precisely the mission of the festival, which aims to promote the Italian territory as a cinematographic set and seeks to be a bridge between Italian and American cultures. The event was created thanks to a collaboration between the Agnus Dei of Tiziana Rocca (the General Director of the festival), the Italian Cultural Institute of Los Angeles and its director Valeria Rumori, with the wishes of the Consul General of Italy in Los Angeles Antonio Verde. The festival was also realized thanks to MiBACT and Anica with the Artistic direction by Claudio Masenza.
The program this year is centered on female figures, honoring Gina Lollobrigida with the Filming On Italy Life and Achievement Award and Monica Bellucci with the Filming On Italy Best Career Award; the IIC Los Angeles Creativity Award went to both actresses. The award consists of an original work created for the Institute by artist and stylist Emilio Cavallini, inspired by the ceiling of Pantheon in Rome. A theme of dramatic actuality, violence against women and abuse of power, is an important focus of the festival. Tiziana Rocca, always close to issues of social awareness, invited the American actress Rosario Dawson to present her Studio 189, a social enterprise which she conducts with fashion expert Abrima Erwiah, which gave life to the Fashion Rising Collection, a fashion collection they curated in support of One Billion Rising, the largest movement countering violence against women. The initiative allows women in Africa who have been victims of abuse to work for the fashion line while learning the trade, searching to give them a kind of concrete hope for the future.
Other important international guests at the festival included Spanish actress Paz Vega, Vincent Spano and actor Danny Huston, son of the director John Huston who directed the “Lollo” in Beat the Devil (Il tesoro d’Africa) in 1953. It was Danny Huston who presented the actress with the Filming On Italy Life and Achievement Award.
Two films, Emir Kusturica’s On the Milky Road starring Monica Bellucci and Smetto quando voglio - Ad honorem by Sydney Sibilia, made their American debuts at the festival. Also screened were important films from Gina Lollobrigida’s career- Giulio Questi’s “Death Laid an Egg” (1969) and Basil Dearden’s “Woman of Straw” (1964). The festival paid homage to Monica Bellucci with Giuseppe Tornatore’s Malèna, one of the films that transformed Bellucci into an international icon.
Director of the Italian Cultural Institute Valeria Rumori is enthusiastic about this year’s program: “The Italian Cultural Institute works actively and constantly to promote and disseminate Italian cinema in L.A. and the rest of its wide jurisdiction. There are many initiatives organized or co-presented with institutional and local partners, both Italian and American, which contribute to expand the circulation of Italian films, to strengthen the awareness of the potential of our cinema, and make out talents known. The presence of icons like Gina Lollobrigida and Monica Bellucci, who made cinematic history and contributed to creating an image of Italy still alive today, confirms the importance and appreciation even outside of the work by the Institute, and at the same time helps to shed light on Italian cinema."