The Man Who Bought the Moon and other Italian (Film Festival) delights

The animated classic Allegro non troppo screens as part of the 2019 Italian Film Festival.

North American premieres, tributes to classic films and filmmakers, and even a Vancouver-set documentary are among the many reasons to check out this year’s edition of the Italian Film Festival.

A co-presentation of Il Centro Italian Cultural Centre, the Vancouver International Film Festival, the Consulate General of Italy in Vancouver and the Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Toronto, the festival runs from Jan. 4-13, 2019. All films are screening at Vancity Theatre, 1181 Seymour St. Here are a few we think you should see.

L’uomo che comprò la luna (The Man Who Bought The Moon)—Alarmed to learn that an unidentified Sardinian has legal title to the moon, authorities send an undercover agent to investigate. But first, the recruit must be schooled in Sardinian lore so that he can pass muster with the locals. Director Paolo Zucca delivers a blend of slapstick, physical comedy, and absurdity. (2019 IFF Opening Gala, Fri Jan 4; Wed. Jan. 9)

Allegro non troppo—Animator Bruno Bozzetto’s best-known feature has been described as “a counter-cultural riposte to Disney’s Fantasia.” This animated feature for grown-ups riffs on six classical music staples from Debussy, Dvorak, Sibelius, Vivaldi, Stravinsky and Ravel’s Bolero. (Fri Jan. 4)

Once Upon A Time In America—This 250-minute extended director’s cut is screening theatrically in Vancouver for the first time. Sergio Leone’s 1984 all-star epic (Robert DeNiro, Treat Williams, James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern) is about Jewish hoods in New York in the 1920s. (Sat Jan 5; Tues Jan 8)

I pugni in tasca (Fists in the Pocket)—From the description: “Tormented by twisted desires, a young man takes drastic measures to rid his grotesquely dysfunctional family of its various afflictions in this astonishing 1965 debut from Marco Bellocchio. Charged by a coolly assured style, shocking perversity, and savage gallows humor, Fists in the Pocket was a gleaming ice pick in the eye of bourgeois family values and Catholic morality, a truly unique work that continues to rank as one of the great achievements of Italian cinema.” (Sat Jan. 5; Wed Jan 9)

Come un gatto in tangenziale (Like a Cat On a Highway)—In this 2017 film, two single parents from different social strata meet when their teenage kids start dating. The film won Best Comedy, Actress and Actor at the 2018 Nastri d’Argento Awards. (Sun Jan 6)

Come un gatto in tangenziale (Like a Cat On a Highway), screening at the 2019 Italian Film Festival, won Best Comedy, Actress and Actor at the 2018 Nastri d’Argento Awards.

V6A—Italian filmmaker Ruggero Romano came to Vancouver in 2016 and was moved to make a documentary about the inhabitants of V6A—the poorest postal code in Canada. The result is a portrait of some of the people of Hastings Street and the Downtown Eastside—people who aren’t just poor and/or addicted but are also artists and musicians, street poets, philosophers, and activists. (red carpet premiere Sun Jan 6, preceded by an art and music reception, a Q&A with director to follow; Sun Jan 13)

For a full list of films, showtimes and ticket info, visit

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