Film & TV

Miami Italian Film Festival 2013: Romance, Gladiators, and Italy's Benedict Cumberbatch

You'd think that the same strategies you use against the Olive Garden's Never Ending Pasta Bowl would serve you well when negotiating the abundance of foreign film festivals that come to Miami. But stitching breadstick-shaped pockets inside your coat won't help you this week when the 2013 Miami Italian Film Festival returns to Miami tonight.

As in past years, the festival will screen ten of the best Italian films of the last year at the Regal Cinemas South Beach.

The unofficial star of this year's festival is actor Valerio Mastandrea, featured in three of the films. (Think of him as the Benedict Cumberbatch of the fest.) The gem of the bunch is Gli Equilibristi (Balancing Act), which is probably the actor's greatest role to date. The story of infidelity rocking an otherwise ideal family wouldn't be so daring on its own, but the nuances in Mastandrea's performance and the tiny details in writer-director Ivano De Matteo's hands accrete into a gorgeous and special film.

You can also see Mastandrea in Padroni Di Casa (The Landlords) about two brothers who stir up the loins and furies of a small town and Viva La Libertad (Long Live Freedom), a comedy in which a missing politician is secretly replaced by his strange twin brother.

Aside from the Mastandrea films, there are also comedies like Benur, about the men who dress as gladiators at the Coliseum for tourists, and Buongiorno Papa (Out of the Blue) about a charming ladies' man who is surprised by a teenager who claims to be his daughter from a previous fling. Want some romance? Try Tuiti I Santi Giorni (Every Blessed Day) or Cosimo and Nicole, in which sexy Italians have passionate love affairs that then become threatened by unexpected circumstances. Will their sexy passion be enough to transcend their obstacles?

You can learn about the rest of the films at or by calling 305-864-0101, but you can't really go wrong. Actually, you're going to see a great Italian movie this week no matter what. See, Claudio Di Persia, the artistic director of the festival, says that he has been given the key to the city for both Coral Gables and Miami Beach over the years. He's so committed to bringing the best of Italian cinema to Miamians that if you skip out on his festival, he might very well just let himself into your house, warm up some Chef Boyardee, hang one of your giant pairs of underwear on the wall for a screen and run his projector. FINE.

Individual tickets cost $10 and are only available on the day of a screening. With a $60 movie pass, you'll get guaranteed seats and a $200 VIP pass gets you into parties, ceremonies, and tickets to all ten films without having to wait on line.

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