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Benigni and the Revolutionaries - The festival that revived Roman Cinema

Benigni and the Revolutionaries - The festival that revived Roman Cinema

Cinema America Occupato started as a student squatter revolt against turning a historic cinema into a park house, and distinguished itself from the very start by creating a magical surrounding of great films (often with presentations by actors, directors, critics) in what quickly became a hallowed hall of Cinema in Rome, completely funded by donations and completely free should you have no change in your pockets. The initiative took a step further by opening up other screens around town, including drive ins and other open air locations, culminating in the open air summer cinema on Piazza San Cosimato, some 50 metres from the cinema itself, in the heart of Trastevere.

This summer, like the previous one, includes several Disney classics, starting with the original 1940 Fantasia last Saturday, but neither these, nor the lush duster-clad, squinty-eyed & Morricone scored westerns, are the big hitters. The focus will be an eye feast for Italian film junks, specifically of the most recent decades. One of the big appearances that will probably draw gargantuan crowds (if the word gets out fast enough) is Robert Benigni, who will talk about one of his most famous films, screening that evening.

America has Marty McFly who brought the future back in the DeLorean everyone wants, there’s no use denying it, especially now that the 80’s have finally drifted far enough to be loved again without risking social repudiation. Italy however, has Mario and Saverio, the two unseeming heros of “Non ci resta che piangere” (Nothing left to do but cry). Starring Roberto Benigni and Massimo Troisi, the great Tuscan comedian, alongside his Neapolitan counterpart, the film is a jolly ride back to the late 15th century where the two entangle their benignly ignorant selves in the cultural and political turmoil of the Renaissance.

The film has, much like McFly, gathered quite a cult following in Italy, being one of the finest unions of the two great comedic streaks, the Neapolitan and the Tuscan. Benigni, who oversees is probably most famous for covertly yelling “Ti amo, Principessa” on a loudspeaker to his co-actress and wife Nicoletta Braschi in ‘Life is Beautiful’, will be a special guest on Friday June 10th to talk about the making of his 1492 (ring a bell?) adventures with Troisi.

The festival, which caters to a vast and voracious local cinema audience will feature many great Italian as well as international classics, however, the audio will more often than not be in Italian, at times with English subtitles, or in the original version with Italian subtitles. This might appear as a hinder for enjoying a great night of cinema, however, the event itself, the people, the grassroots-to-forest atmosphere render it a unique moment that transcends any linguistic barrier.


The screenings take place in Piazza San Cosimato and always start at 21:15. Due to large affluence it it recommended to come early, bring something to sit on and something cool to drink, pizza from the nearby bakery is optional.

For more information regarding their program and the various initiatives in other areas please see the Festival Trastevere Rione del Cinema website.


Photo credits: Festival Trastevere Rione del Cinema - Francesco Marchini & Claudia Tombini


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