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Two Nights, Two Italian Films


The Portland International Film Festival is in town, and this year there was a selection of three Italian films. We chose two to see – E l’aura fai son vir (2005) and Il caimano (2006).

E l’aura fai son vir (And the Wind Blows Round) was a quiet film about a French family that moves to a tiny northwestern Italian village. The newcomers arrive in the winter, when most of the town’s inhabitants are away (the vast majority of the residents only show up for the nice summer weather), and the warm reception they get quickly turns sour. It’s hard to say really who’s more at “fault,” the French family who – inevitably – introduces some new elements to the town, or the Italian townspeople, some of whom seem to have it out for the newcomers from the beginning. The friends we saw the movie with said afterwards, “Well, that was a handbook for what not to do when you move into a small Italian village.” Indeed. I don’t think it’s spoiling anything to say things don’t exactly go well for the new family.

More interesting than the story, which was sparse, was the language. At first I thought the French words were injected because the new family was French… But then I realized there were French words being spoken even when the French people weren’t involved in the conversation. There was some dialect going on as well, but I think that the village was in the upper northwest of Italy close to the French border, so the two languages had blended together.

Il caimano (The Cayman) was my favorite film of the two. It’s a comedy about a struggling filmmaker who’s got a script he thinks will enable him to get back on top. This new script is a drama about Italy’s conservative government, and especially Silvio Berlusconi. So, in addition to being a funny film with endearing characters, it’s a bit of political commentary as well.

A former Italian teacher of ours, a woman from the Veneto region, says that when she was growing up her family emphasized non-Italian art forms (except for opera, of course), so she didn’t even really have any favorite Italian films. I don’t know enough about Italian cinema to know about historical themes or styles, but it’s nice to see a few Italian films a year to just get the language into our heads a little bit more.