L.A. Italia Fest to Honor Bernardo Bertolucci and the Taviani Brothers

Bernardo Bertolucci

The festival this year is dedicated to Francis Ford Coppola in honor of his 80th birthday.

The L.A. Italia Fest, which opens Sunday, is set to honor Italian directors Bernardo Bertolucci and Paolo and Vittorio Taviani in recognition of their contribution to the cinematic arts.

The fest will launch with a special screening of the Taviani Bros.’ 2007 film The Lark Farm, introduced by actor Alessandro Preziosi. It will conclude Feb. 23 with a special screening of Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris, which was nominated for Academy Awards for best director and best actor for Marlon Brando.

Vittorio Taviani died last year in Rome. Together with his brother, Paolo, he was honored with every major European festival award including Berlin’s Golden Bear, Venice’s Golden Lion and Cannes’ Palme d’Or.

Bertolucci died in November at the age of 77 after a long battle with cancer. The writer, helmer and producer won Academy Awards for best director and adapted screenplay for his 1987 film The Last Emperor, which won nine Oscars in total.

This year's L.A. Italia Fest is also celebrating the region of Matera in honor of Francis Ford Coppola’s 80th birthday. Matera, where the famous American-Italian director’s family originally comes from, has been designated as the 2019 European Capital of Culture.

As previously announced, the festival's opening will also honor actors Andy Garcia and Franco Nero with the L.A Italia Legend Awards. The evening will conclude with the world premiere of Amazing Leonardo, a biopic about Leonardo da Vinci directed by Jesus Garces Lambert. This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Renaissance artist’s death. 

The festival will run throughout the week leading up to the Oscars. The opening-day program also includes Alessandro Genovesi’s comedy When Mom Is Away and the world premiere of Igor Maltagliati’s Everything’s Going Smooth. Other screenings include the U.S. premieres of The Vice of Hope by Edoardo De Angelis, Capri-Revolution by Mario Martone and Mathera by Francesco Invernizzi and Vito Salinaro.

“We are extremely proud to be honoring so many highly talented Italian filmmakers and performing artists along with their Italian-American counterparts,” said L.A. Italia Festival founder and producer Pascal Vicedomini and honorary chairman Mark Canton in a statement. “As in prior years, our event comes to Hollywood on the eve of the Oscars with a star-studded array of Italian, Italian-American and international artists all scheduled to participate in a weeklong pre-Academy Awards celebration showcasing the best of Italian culture through a series of premieres, screenings retrospectives and exhibitions.”