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10 Italian films recommended for Italian language students

Italian language students always ask us: I would like to bring home some dvds, could you give me a list of Italian films to buy? So, after much agonizing, here is a selection of films which we think would suit our students.

Pane e tulipani (Bread and tulips) (2000) by Silvio Soldini: during a bus trip with her family, a housewife is left behind on the road and ends up in Venice. Here she discovers a new world and herself, thanks in part to the new friends which she happens upon, on the way.

Il sorpasso (The overtaking) (1962) by Dino Risi: this is an honest to goodness Italian road movie. It’s Ferragosto and a pair of casual friends, a shy university student and an immature 40 year old, pass the day together making their way from Rome to Tuscany.

Io non ho paura (I’m not afraid) (2003) by Gabriele Salvatores: a ten year old, Michael, lives in a small town in the Basilicata. Together with his younger sister and other friends, he runs around on his bike in the narrow lanes amid the fields of wheat. One day, in an abandoned farmhouse, he discovers something which will change his life.

La finestra di fronte (The window opposite) (2003) by Ferzan Ozpetek: Giovanna and Filippo, a young Roman couple in crisis, meet an old man who has lost his memory. While they try to discover who he is, Giovanna meets Lorenzo, a young banker who lives directly opposite and on whom she has been spying secretly for months.

Una giornata particolare (A singular day) (1977) by Ettore Scola. It’s March 1938 and the last day of Hitler’s visit to Rome. A housewife, exhausted and frustrated (Sophia Loren), meets a kind and vulnerable homosexual persecuted by the fascist regime.

My name is Tanino (2002) by Paolo Virzì. Tanino is a Sicilian youth who falls in love with Sally, an American girl on holiday in Italy. He decides to go to America in search of her.

La meglio gioventù (The best of youth) (2203), by Marco Tullio Giordana. 40 years of Italian history told through the story of a tipical Italian family. A story stretching from the sixties to the present day.

We recommend the following films to those who want to deepen their knowledge of the Mafia.

Gomorra (2008) by Matteo Garrone. The stories of those, young and not so young, who get themselves mixed up in the violence and misery amid the housing estates of Scampia, one of the quarters of Naples. Adapted from the book of the same name by Roberto Saviano.

I cento passi (The hundred steps) (2000) by Marco Tullio Giordana. In the last years of the 1970s, in a small Sicilian town, the mafia dominate and control everyday life. A young man, Peppino Impastato, tries to fight the mafia through a mixture of originality and stuborness. Taken from a true story.

A ciascuno il suo (To each his own) (1967) by Elio Petri. An honourable left-wing professor discovers the person behind a double killing in Sicily and finds himself facing problems much bigger than himself. One of the first Italian films on the Mafia, adapted from the book of the same name by Leonardo Sciascia.

You can find the plots, together with more detailed information about the films listed above on MyMovies which we have also drawn ourselves (watch out though because they give away the endings!).

Suggestions from the readers of our blog are also welcome.

Translated from the Italian by Michael Quinn.

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