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Netflix has acquired the worldwide rights to Sophia Loren’s return to the screen and her first feature film in over a decade, a drama called “The Life Ahead,” the streaming service announced Monday.

Edoardo Ponti directed Loren in the film, and Netflix will debut it later this year.

Loren plays a Holocaust survivor named Madame Rosa who runs a daycare business living in seaside Italy and takes in a 12-year-old street kid named Momo after he robs her. The two loners become each other’s protectors, anchoring an unconventional family.

Also Read: 'Insatiable' Canceled by Netflix After 2 Seasons

Ponti and Ugo Chiti adapted the screenplay from the book “The Life Before Us” by Romain Gary. “The Life Ahead” also stars Ibrahima Gueye, Renato Carpentieri and Massimiliano Rossi alongside Loren.

“I couldn’t be more pleased to be working with Netflix on such a special film. In my career, I’ve worked with the biggest studios but I can safely say that none have had the breadth of reach and the cultural diversity of Netflix, and that’s what I love about them,” Loren said in a statement. “They have understood that you don’t build a global studio unless you cultivate local talent in every country and give these unique voices an opportunity to be heard. Everyone deserves to be heard, this is what our film ‘The Life Ahead’ is all about and that is also what Netflix is all about.”

“Sophia Loren is one of the most admired and celebrated actresses in the world. We’re honored to welcome her, Edoardo and the talented team who made this film to the Netflix family. ‘The Life Ahead’ is a beautiful and brave story that, much like Sophia herself, will be embraced by audiences in Italy and all around the world,” Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement.

Also Read: 15 Things 'Moonstruck' Nailed About Italian-Americans: From Superstitions to Dean Martin (Photos)

“The Life Ahead” is produced by Palomar – Mediawan Group with support from Impact Partners Film Service, Artemis Rising Foundation, Foothills Productions, Another Chapter Productions and Scone Investments.

Ponti is the director of the short films “The Nightshift Belongs to the Stars” and “Human Voice.” “Human Voice” was Loren’s previous role back in 2014, which was based on a one-woman play from Jean Cocteau.

Loren’s last feature was 2009’s “Nine,” the musical from director Rob Marshall. She’s an Oscar winner for Vittorio De Sica’s “Two Women” from 1960.

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www.thewrap.com | 2/17/20

Sony Pictures Classics has acquired the worldwide rights to “The Truffle Hunters,” a film about truffle hunting dogs in Italy that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in the World Cinema Documentary Competition.

Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw directed the film that is executive produced by “Call Me By Your Name” filmmaker Luca Guadagnino and premiered on Sunday.

“The Truffle Hunters” is set deep in the forests of Northern Italy where a prized white Alba truffle can be found and is desired by the richest people in the world. The truffle can’t be cultivated or found except by a tiny circle of canines and their elderly Italian companions who only hunt for the truffle at night as to not give away their secrets and leave clues for others on how to find them.

Also Read: Apple and A24 Grab Political Documentary 'Boys State'

“This is one of the freshest, most beautiful films ever. It will be embraced by audiences the world over,” Sony Pictures Classics said in a statement Monday. “Thank you to the filmmakers for making us a partner in what promises to be a grand adventure. Really. This major artistic achievement will make the world smile.”

Dweck and Kershaw also produced the film. Guadagnino executive produced with Lance Acord, Leslie Berriman, Jackie Kelman Bisbee, Sam Bisbee, Geralyn White Dreyfous, Bruce Heavin, Christos V. Konstantakopoulos, Adam Lewis, Melony Lewis, Nion McEvoy, Wendy Neu, Cameron O’Reilly, Matthew Perniciaro, Patty Quillin, Michael Sherman, Regina K. Scully, Jim Swartz, Susan Swartz, Lynda Weinman and Jamie Wolf.

Submarine brokered the deal, which also handled the sale of the documentary “Boys State” to Apple earlier on Monday.

Sony Pictures Classics ahead of the festival purchased “The Father,” from director Florian Zeller and starring Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman in a film based on Zeller’s own award-winning stage play.

Deadline first reported the news of the sale.

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www.thewrap.com | 1/28/20

Ethan Hawke, “Mudbound” director-screenwriter Dee Rees and Emily Mortimer are among the jury members selected for the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, the Sundance Institute announced on Tuesday.

Twenty-five experts were selected to award feature films and short films shown at the upcoming festival, which will take place from Jan. 23 to Feb. 2 in Park City, Utah. Thirty-one prizes will be announced at a ceremony on Feb. 1, while the Short Film Awards will be announced at a separate ceremony on Jan. 28.

The juried Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize was awarded to “Tesla,” which stars Hawke, Jim Gaffigan, Kyle MacLachlan and Lucy Walters.

Also Read: Taylor Swift, Viggo Mortensen and Tessa Thompson Lead Diverse 2020 Sundance Lineup

See the jury members below.

U.S. DRAMATIC JURY

Rodrigo Garcia
Rodrigo Garcia’s films include the award-winning Nine LivesAlbert NobbsMother and Child, and Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her. His television credits include the pilots of In TreatmentCarnivàleBig LoveBull, and the upcoming Party of Five series reboot. García is co-CEO of the digital studio Indigenous Media, which produced the series Five PointsLauren, and Blue.

Ethan Hawke
Ethan Hawke has starred in over 60 films, including Training DayBefore Sunrise (1995 Sundance Film Festival), and Boyhood (2014 Sundance Film Festival), which garnered Hawke one of his four Academy Award nominations. Recently, he won a Gotham Award, an Independent Spirit Award, and over 20 film critics’ awards for his performance in First Reformed. Besides an on-screen actor, he is a director, an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter, a Tony Award-nominated stage actor, and a novelist.

Dee Rees
Writer/director Dee Rees is the first Black woman nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Adapted Screenplay category, for her highly acclaimed film Mudbound (2018). Her previous credits include the multiple-Emmy-winning film Bessie (2014) and her Film Independent Spirit Award- and Gotham Award-winning debut feature, Pariah (2011). Her latest film, The Last Thing He Wanted, is an adaptation of the Joan Didion novel and stars Anne Hathaway as veteran DC journalist Elena McMahon.

Isabella Rossellini
Isabella Rossellini has appeared in numerous films, including Il prato (The Meadow), Blue Velvet, CousinsDeath Becomes Her, and Joy. Her award-winning series of shorts–Green PornoSeduce Me, and Mammas–offer comical and scientifically insightful studies of animal behavior. She recently toured with her latest theatrical show, Link Link Circus. Rossellini also works to preserve the films of her father and mother, Roberto Rossellini and Ingrid Bergman, and runs an organic farm in Brookhaven.

Wash Westmoreland
Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer’s feature Quinceañera premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, winning both the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize. Their feature Still Alice won a BAFTA Award and a Golden Globe and earned Julianne Moore her first Academy Award. After Glatzer’s passing, Westmoreland directed the acclaimed Colette (2018 Sundance Film Festival) and the psychological drama Earthquake Bird. Originally from Leeds, England, Westmoreland currently lives in Los Angeles, California.

U.S. DOCUMENTARY JURY

Kimberly Reed
Kimberly Reed’s Dark Money (2018 Sundance Film Festival) was named one of Vogue‘s “66 best documentaries of all time,” nominated for four Critics’ Choice Awards and the IDA Documentary Award for Best Documentary, awarded the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, and shortlisted for an Academy Award. Prodigal Sons, the first documentary by a transgender filmmaker to be theatrically released, won 14 international awards. Reed is also one of Filmmaker magazine’s “25 new faces of independent film.”

Rachel Rosen
Rachel Rosen is the director of programming for SFFILM, which presents the annual San Francisco International Film Festival, where she also served as the associate director of programming. She spent eight years as the director of programming for Film Independent and the LA Film Festival and has worked in various capacities for the New York Film Festival, New York’s Film Forum, and TriStar Pictures. She holds an MA in communications from the documentary film program at Stanford University.

Courtney Sexton
Courtney Sexton is senior vice president for CNN Films. Sexton works day to day with filmmakers to supervise the production of documentary films for theatrical exhibition and distribution across CNN’s platforms. Since Sexton joined CNN Films, the team has acquired or commissioned more than 45 original feature and short films. Sexton’s recent work includes Apollo 11RBGThree Identical StrangersLinda Ronstadt: The Sound of My VoiceHalston, and Scandalous.

E. Chai Vasarhelyi
Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi is an Academy Award-winning filmmaker, known for Free Solo, which earned a BAFTA Award, the 2018 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, and seven Emmys. Her other films include Meru (shortlisted for a 2016 Academy Award ; won the U.S. Documentary Audience Award at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival), IncorruptibleA Normal Life, and Touba. She has received grants from Sundance Institute, the Ford Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Noland Walker
Noland Walker is vice president of content at ITVS and oversees the cultivation of independent documentary films for the award-winning public media series Independent Lens, POV, American Masters, America ReFramed, and others. He also steers ITVS’s content partnerships and field-relations strategies. Walker’s documentary credits include award-winning films such as Africans in America, Citizen King, Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple, and Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story.

WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC JURY

Haifaa Al Mansour
Haifaa Al Mansour finished her bachelor’s degree in literature at the American University in Cairo and a master’s degree in directing and film studies from the University of Sydney. She is considered the first female Saudi Arabian filmmaker, and her feature film Wadjda was the first international film ever to be shot in Saudi Arabia. Invited to over 40 festivals worldwide, Wadjda garnered numerous awards, including in Venice, Rotterdam, and Dubai.

Wagner Moura
Wagner Moura is a Brazilian stage, film, and television star. His performance in Elite Squad (2007) put him on the world stage when the film won the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival. He recently starred as Pablo Escobar in Netflix’s critically acclaimed series Narcos, garnering both the show and him Golden Globe nominations. He made his directorial debut in 2019 with Marighella. He currently works with the UN to end forced labor.

Alba Rohrwacher
Born in Florence, Italy, Alba Rohrwacher studied acting at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome and gained recognition for her award-winning collaborations with Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love); Marco Bellocchio (Dormant BeautyBlood of My Blood); Laura Bispuri (Daughter of Mine); Saverio Costanzo (Hungry HeartsThe Solitude of Prime Numbers); and her sister, Alice Rohrwacher (Happy as Lazzaro). Her awards for best actress include the Volpi Cup, two Nastri d’Argento, and two David di Donatello Awards.

WORLD CINEMA DOCUMENTARY JURY

Eric Hynes
Eric Hynes is curator of film at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York, where he oversees the annual First Look Festival. He is also a longtime critic and journalist and writes a column on the art of nonfiction for Film Comment magazine. Other outlets have included the New York Times, the Washington PostRolling StoneSlateNew York magazine, Sight & Sound, the Village Voice, and Reverse Shot, where he has been a staff writer since 2003.

Rima Mismar
Rima Mismar is the executive director of the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC), a grant-making organization that supports artists across the Arab region. She completed her studies at the Lebanese American University (LAU) in Beirut, before pursuing a career as a film critic. During the last decade, she has participated in festivals as a juror or a member of the selection committee, moderated panels, and written and contributed to critiques on Arab cinema.

Nanfu Wang
Nanfu Wang is a Chinese filmmaker based in New York City. She directs, produces, films, and edits feature documentaries, including Hooligan Sparrow (2016 Sundance Film Festival; shortlisted for the 2017 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature), I Am Another You (2017 SXSW Film Festival, Special Jury Award for Excellence in Documentary Storytelling), and One Child Nation (2019 Sundance Film Festival, U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Prize).

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Gregg Araki
Gregg Araki earned an MFA in film production from the USC School of Cinematic Arts and a BA in film studies from UC Santa Barbara. Araki has made eleven acclaimed independent features, including Kaboom (2011), Smiley Face (2007), Mysterious Skin (2005), and Totally F***ed Up (1994). Araki most recently directed 10 episodes of Now Apocalypse (2019 Sundance Film Festival) for Starz–a series he created, co-wrote, and executive produced with Steven Soderbergh and Gregory Jacobs.

SHORT FILM JURY

Sian Clifford
Sian Clifford is an Emmy Award and Critics’ Choice Award nominated actress for her role as Claire in the global phenomenon and multi-award-winning series Fleabag. She will star in AMC’s hotly anticipated Quiz, directed by Stephen Frears, later this year, as well as in Sky’s Two Weeks To Live, alongside Maisie Williams. She will also guest feature in Hitmen, again for Sky, and in the second series of psychological thriller Liar from Fleabag producers Two Brothers Pictures, for ITV.

Marcus Hu
Marcus Hu is copresident and cofounder of Strand Releasing, which has distributed the works of such international filmmakers as Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Gregg Araki, Catherine Breillat, Lucrecia Martel, and many others. Strand Releasing celebrates its 30th anniversary with a national tour of original films created by filmmakers and friends shot on iPhones and shown at museums around the country. Hu serves as chair of international inclusion for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. 

Cindy Sherman
Cindy Sherman has been the subject of one-person exhibitions at the National Portrait Gallery in London (2019) and the Museum of Modern Art in New York (2012). Her work has also been included in five iterations of the Whitney Biennial, two Biennales of Sydney, and the 1983 documenta exhibition. She has received such awards and honors as the Praemium Imperiale, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

ALFRED P. SLOAN FEATURE FILM PRIZE JURY 

Ruth Angus
Dr. Ruth Angus obtained her PhD in astrophysics from the University of Oxford and is an assistant curator at the American Museum of Natural History, an associate research scientist at the Flatiron Institute’s Center for Computational Astrophysics, and an adjunct professor of astrophysics at Columbia University. She studies the evolution of stars and planetary systems in the Milky Way using data from NASA’s Kepler and TESS space telescopes.

Emily Mortimer
Emily Mortimer is an actress recently seen in Mary Poppins Returns. She won a Film Independent Spirit Award for Nicole Holofcener’s Lovely and Amazing and earned nominations at the Empire Awards and the Critics’ Circle Film Awards for David Mackenzie’s Young Adam. She currently runs the production company King Bee Productions with her husband, Alessandro Nivola. She produced the Film Independent Spirit Award-nominated feature To Dust and is currently writing an adaptation of Nancy Mitford’s novel The Pursuit of Love.

Jessica Oreck
Jessica Oreck makes projects across mediums in an effort to re-inspire a sense of wonder about the world of the everyday. She’s made several feature films that focus on ethnobiology–the way that cultures interact with the natural world–including Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo (2009), Aatsinki: The Story of Arctic Cowboys (2013), The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga (2014), and One Man Dies a Million Times (2019). Jessica also works in paper-based animation, creating educational content for TED and several series for forthcoming outlets.

Ainissa Ramirez
Ainissa Ramirez, PhD, is a materials scientist and science communicator who is passionate about getting the general public excited about science. She has worked as a research scientist at Bell Labs and held academic positions at Yale University and MIT. Ramirez has written for ForbesTimeScience, and Scientific American and has explained science headlines on CBS, CNN, NPR, and PBS’s SciTech Now. Her book The Alchemy of Us uncovers how tech shaped us and will be published in April 2020.

Michael Tyburski
Michael Tyburski is a director and screenwriter. His work has been featured by the New YorkerFilm Comment, IndieWire, and Filmmaker magazine. His short film Palimpsest won a Special Jury Prize at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. He received both a grant and lab support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, is a recipient of the SFFILM Dolby Institute Fellowship, and was selected for Sundance Institute’s Film Music and Sound Design Lab. His debut feature, The Sound of Silence, premiered at the 2019 Festival.

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www.thewrap.com | 1/14/20

To begin with, a disclaimer: There are practically no 2019 titles on my Best of the Decade list, not because there weren’t a lot of great films this year, but because I haven’t had the opportunity to live with them for all that long. My Best of 2019 list was its own challenge to write, but this year’s movies are just too new for them to have knocked around in my central nervous system the way these earlier titles have. (Decades are a pretty arbitrary division as well, but that’s a topic for another day.) Film historians can debate the major movie-related events of the decade — the rise of streaming, the dominance of Disney — but these are the films took up residency with me and refuse to move out:

11-30 (alphabetically): “Anomalisa,” “Before Midnight,” “Bernie,” “Bridesmaids,” “Call Me By Your Name,” “Certain Women,” “Clouds of Sils Maria,” “Ex Machina,” “Force Majeure,” “The Great Beauty,” “The Handmaiden,” “Happy Hour,” “Holy Motors,” “Leave No Trace,” “Little Women” (2019), “Love & Friendship,” “Love Exposure,” “Melancholia,” “The Other Side of the Wind,” “Take Me to the River” (2015), “Tamara Drewe,” “Their Finest,” “This Is Not a Film,” “A Touch of Sin,” “The Trip to Italy,” “Under the Skin,” “Upstream Color,” “We Are the Best!” “The World’s End,” “Zama”

Honorable Mention — “The Clock”

It’s way too apples-and-oranges to compare Christian Marclay’s 2010 installation (which runs a solid 24 hours) to a conventional feature film, but watching “The Clock” was, for me, the film event of the decade. (It took me four sittings, but it’s a testament to the piece’s hypnotic power that I got through nine solid hours of viewing with only one bathroom break.) If you thought “Avengers: Endgame” was the ultimate crossover movie, Marclay’s piece turns all of cinema into one unified work, tied together by the passage of time.

10. “The Skin I Live In”
Pedro Almodóvar takes a daring leap into body horror in a film that, in some ways, foreshadows the obsession with decay and dissolution that marks this year’s extraordinary “Pain and Glory.” Antonio Banderas stars as a surgeon who wreaks unspeakable vengeance on his daughter’s assailant in a chiller that’s as indebted to artist Louise Bourgeois as it is to David Cronenberg.

9. “Carol”
Todd Haynes takes a novel by Patricia Highsmith (adapted by Phyllis Nagy) and weaves a swoony tale of love and suppression in the upright, uptight 1950s. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara dance seductively around each other, operating in the rigid codes of the era, until their passion can no longer be hidden behind a veneer of propriety, and the result is one of the decade’s most breathless romances.

8. “Locke”
Writer-director Steven Knight and a never-better Tom Hardy take an experimental-film concept — what if the protagonist and the camera never leave the inside of a moving car? — and create tension, drama, characterization, backstories and everything else that so many traditional movies manage to bobble. As Hardy’s character’s life implodes through a series of phone conversations (the voices on the other end of his calls include Olivia Colman, Ruth Wilson and Andrew Scott), he grapples with his destiny and his stubborn determination not to perpetuate a familial cycle of neglect. It’s a bold gamble that pays off, gloriously.

7. “Toy Story 3”
Some of 2019’s finest films, including “Pain and Glory” and “The Irishman,” examine the idea of aging, obsolescence and the inevitability of death — topics that Pixar covered in a 2010 sequel that no one had particularly asked for. As Andy heads out for college, his toys (Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the rest) must face being shoved off to new homes, as well as the distinct possibility of utter destruction. It’s a cartoon aimed at children, and it was one of the decade’s most poignant and wrenching film experiences.

6. “Frances Ha”
Before coming into her own as a filmmaker, Greta Gerwig gave an exuberant performance in Noah Baumbach’s look at an aging bohemian who realizes that the irresponsibility of youth is no longer a good look on her, even if she feels her free-spiritedness is an essential ingredient of her creative life as a dancer. It’s a movie as alive in the big moments (Gerwig sprints down the streets of Manhattan to David Bowie’s “Modern Love,” a moment she recreates in “Little Women,” albeit with much different music) as in the small interactions between best friends.

5. “Mad Max: Fury Road”
In a decade in which computer-generated extravaganzas took us to the furthest reaches of space and into outlandish future worlds, many of which lacked heft and gravity altogether, George Miller reminded us of the power and the thrill of more tangible and visceral entertainments, with Charlize Theron’s powerful Imperator Furiosa becoming an instant icon of strength and determination.

4. “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives”
Master Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul won the Palme d’Or for his most accessible — yet no less dreamlike — film to date, one that makes the cycle of life, death and reincarnation feel universal and powerful, and encouraging audiences to consider their role in the world not only in this moment but also in the wisps of the past and in the unforeseeable future.

3. “Paddington 2”
If pure joy and delight could so easily be summoned on the big screen, everyone would do it. The further adventures of a kind bear who sees the best in everyone was a much-needed balm in the latter half of the decade, reminding us that countries of origin and past mistakes shouldn’t matter if we can genuinely try to respect and understand our fellow human beings. And if we can enjoy a marmalade sandwich together, so much the better.

2. “Boyhood”
Richard Linklater’s epic tale of a child growing to manhood would be notable enough for its legendary shooting schedule, which took place over the course of a dozen years, but the results aren’t just a gimmick: The boy becomes a man, yes, but as we follow this journey, we see the people around him (particularly his parents, performed exquisitely by Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke) mature in their own way. It’s a masterpiece of empathy.

1. “Moonlight”
Director Barry Jenkins (working from a play by Tarell Alvin McCraney) tells a different boyhood story, featuring a child growing into adulthood under fraught circumstances, learning to navigate the world as a black gay man. It’s something of a miracle that a film this poetic and this unapologetically committed to the notion of same-sex desire reached a mainstream audience (to say nothing of it winning a well-deserved Best Picture Oscar), but its power and its beauty are undeniable.

www.thewrap.com | 12/14/19

The 2020 Palm Springs International Film Festival will open on Jan. 3 with Simone Godano’s Italian farce “An Almost Ordinary Summer” and close on Jan. 12 with Peter Cattaneo’s Kristin Scott Thomas/Sharon Horgan film “Military Wives,” PSIFF organizers announced on Tuesday.

The festival will screen 188 films from 81 different countries, including 51 of the 91 Oscar entries in the Best International Feature Film category. Those films will include Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite,” Pedro Almodovar’s “Pain and Glory,” Ladj Ly’s “Les Miserables,” Karim Ainouz’s “Invisible Life,” Halina Reijn’s “Instinct,” Yaron Zilberman’s “Incitement,” Vaclav Marhoul’s “The Painted Bird,” Kantemir Balagov’s “Beanpole,” Lila Aviles’ “The Chambermaid” and Antoneta Kastrati’s “Zana.”

Other programs will include the Talking Pictures series of conversations with filmmakers and authors from “Hustlers,” “Jojo Rabbit” and “Motherless Brooklyn”; Focus on Italy, featuring seven Italian films including “The Traitor”; Modern Masters, which will present new films from Roy Andersson, Takashi Miike, Werner Herzog, Hirokazu Kore-eda and Agnes Varda, among other international auteurs; and New Voices New Visions, with a series of films from first- and second-time directors from more than a dozen countries.

Also Read: Renee Zellweger to Receive PSIFF Desert Palm Achievement Award

PSIFF will also present a dozen LGBTQ-themed films in the Queer Cinema Today section; 20 documentaries, including Gabe Polsky’s “Red Penguins,” Lauren Greenfield’s “The Kingmaker” and Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaiche’s “Advocate”; and almost 60 films from around the globe in World Cinema Now, including Shannon Murphy’s “Babyteeth,” Kleber Mendonca Filho and Juliano Dornelles’ “Bacuaru,” Guiseppe Capotondi’s “The Burnt Orange Heresy,” Chinonye Chukwu’s “Clemency,” Michael Winterbottom’s “Greed” and Alice Winocour’s “Proxima.”

Fifty one of the festival’s films will be world, North American, international or U.S. premieres.

The 2020 Palm Springs International Film Festival will run from Jan. 3 through Jan. 12 in the desert resort town east of Los Angeles, after its annual Awards Gala on Jan. 2.

The full list of films can be found at the festival website.

www.thewrap.com | 12/10/19

Spyglass Media and Eagle Pictures have teamed up to produce an English-language adaptation of Paolo Genovese’s Italian film “Perfetti Sconosciuti,” with “Insecure” star and co-creator Issa Rae attached to write, produce and star in the comedy.

The film, “Perfect Strangers,” centers around a dinner party in which a group of friends decide to play a risky game where they place their phones face-up on the table and agree to make all texts and phone calls public in an attempt to prove they have nothing to hide. The film takes a comedic approach to dealing with the friendship, love and betrayal that forces the friends to confront the fact that they may actually be “perfect strangers.”

“I’m really looking forward to bringing this funny and compelling story to a new demographic and could not be happier about partnering with the Spyglass team to make it happen,” Rae said in a statement. “I loved the original film and think the story will resonate with audiences here as well.”

Also Read: Issa Rae to Produce Reimagining of 'Set It Off' for New Line

The original Italian version, “Perfetti Sconosciuti,” was released in 2016. A number of local-language remakes followed the film’s initial release, including in China, Spain, Russia, France, and Korea. The Italian film won two David di Donatello Awards for best film and best screenplay as well as the best screenplay for an International Narrative Feature at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Spyglass is banking that Rae, who has become one of Hollywood’s premiere creators, will bring her signature style to the adaptation. Rae has received critical praise, including Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for her HBO series, “Insecure,” which is set to return in 2020.

“Issa is the perfect choice to adapt Paolo Genovese’s brilliant film given her bold and comedic authenticity,” Spyglass’s vice president of development and production Chris Stone said in a statement. “As one of the most sought-after creative talents, we are excited to see Issa’s vision come to life.”

Also Read: Spyglass TV Nabs Stephen King's 'The Institute' With David E Kelley and Jack Bender Attached

Rae will next star in Universal’s romantic drama, “The Photograph,” which is set to hit theaters in February 2020. She’ll also star in the 2020 romantic comedy  “Lovebirds” with Kumail Nanjiani.

Principal photography on “Perfect Strangers” is expected to start in the early part of next year. The film is being produced by Spyglass and Eagle Pictures, as well as 3 Marys Entertainment, alongside Rae.

Issa Rae Productions’ Montrel McKay will executive produce. Chris Stone will oversee production on behalf of Spyglass and Tarak Ben Ammar, chairman and owner of Eagle Pictures, will oversee the film on behalf of Eagle.

“I am proud to be working alongside our partners at Spyglass and the immensely talented Issa Rae on this socially resonant and provocative comedy that not only became a success in Europe,  but went on to capture the attention of audiences around the globe,” Ben Ammar said in a statement.

Also Read: David S Goyer to Write and Produce Clive Barker's 'Hellraiser' Redo for Spyglass

Spyglass was launched earlier this year by former MGM CEO Gary Barber, in partnership with Lantern Entertainment co-presidents Andy Mitchell and Milos Brajovic. Lantern recently bought the assets of The Weinstein Co. out of bankruptcy, making Spyglass now the home to more than 250 film library titles, scripted and unscripted TV series, such as “Project Runway,” as well as Academy Award winners “The King’s Speech” and “The Artist,” and box office hits “Inglourious Basterds,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “The Hateful Eight” and “Django Unchained.”

Spyglass has strategic investment backing from Warner Bros, Eagle Pictures; the largest independent distributor in Italy, and Cineworld Group.

Rae is represented by UTA, 3 Arts Entertainment and attorney John Meigs.

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www.thewrap.com | 12/4/19

“Joker” has exceeded even the wildest of expectations doing what no R-Rated film has done before: gross $1 billion at the global box office.

The film is set to surpass the worldwide mark on Friday, currently sitting at $999 million and change, including $317 million domestically. This makes it the seventh Warner Bros. film to do cross that mark

“Joker” joins last year’s “Aquaman” ($1.14 billion) and the two Christopher Nolan Batman sequels, “The Dark Knight” ($1 billion) and “The Dark Knight Rises” ($1.08 billion) to cross the $1 billion. The other movies are “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 2,” ($1.34 billion), “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” ($1.12 billion) and “The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey” ($1.01 billion).

Right now “Joker” sits just behind “The Dark Knight” on the all-time box office earners at no. 44.

Also Read: Why 'Joker' Has Outperformed All Other R-Rated Films at the Box Office

Todd Phillips directed the film that starred Joaquin Phoenix in an origin story about the iconic Batman villain, and it has had a remarkable run since it won the top prize at the Venice International Film Festival.

Domestically, “Joker” opened to a strong but not record-breaking $96 million, but it held on strong and for weeks did not have a weekend-to-weekend drop above 50%. Though it still falls just short of the domestic total set by Warner Bros. and New Line’s horror film “It,” which is also rated R.

Internationally it’s held on even stronger after opening to $152.2 million, despite lacking the action-heavy appeal that would usually aid it overseas. “Joker” even broke all-time Warner Bros. records across 14 countries, including Russia and Mexico, over $100 million grossed in Latin America, and DC movie records in 34 countries, including Japan, Italy and Argentina.

Also Read: Joaquin Phoenix to Receive PSIFF Chairman's Award

Before even its fourth weekend in theaters, “Joker” surpassed “Deadpool 2” as the highest-grossing R-rated film ever, which only managed $785 million worldwide. And the achievement even earned a cheeky response from “Deadpool” star Ryan Reynolds when he tweeted a “Joker” poster with the caption, “You Mother F—er.”

The next goalpost in “Joker’s” sight is the Oscars, where Joaquin Phoenix is considered a strong contender for the Best Actor prize.

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www.thewrap.com | 11/15/19
LYON, France  —  Leading Italian restoration company L’Immagine Ritrovata’s acquisition of renowned film lab Eclair Cinéma, announced last month, is expected to be approved by the French Commercial Court of Nanterre at the end of November or beginning of December, according to a source familiar with the deal. L’Immagine Ritrovata’s French subsidiary, L’Image Retrouvée, last […]
variety.com | 10/16/19

Kent Jones, the director and selection committee chair of the New York Film Festival, will step down from his position following the upcoming 57th edition of the festival, Film at Lincoln Center announced Thursday.

Jones has been the director of the festival for seven years, and he’ll depart after the festival concludes, which takes place between Sept. 27 and Oct. 13. Film at Lincoln Center’s executive director Lesli Klainberg will oversee the transition of leadership, but no replacement has yet been announced. Jones will also continue to work with the team in an advisory role.

“At some point when I was pretty young and already deep into movies, the New York Film Festival became a beacon for me,” Jones said in a statement. “Throughout its history, it has been a true home for the art of cinema–that was how it began with Richard Roud and Amos Vogel, that was how it remained with my predecessor Richard Peña, and that was how I’ve done my best to maintain it. I thank my colleagues, I thank the board for sticking to the original mission, I thank our audiences, I thank our colleagues in the industry, but most of all I thank the filmmakers. It’s been a joy and an honor to present their work.”

Also Read: New York Film Festival: Kelly Reichardt, Agnes Varda Lead Slate With 20% Female Directors

“Beginning as a year-round programmer, Kent has shared his knowledge and passion for the movies with our Film at Lincoln Center audiences for almost twenty years,” Klainberg said in a statement. “On behalf of the Board and staff, I’m delighted to support him as he continues into the next phase of his career, making more of his own cinematic dreams come true, and we can’t wait to enjoy the results.”

Jones is citing both his burgeoning career as a filmmaker and the upcoming birth of his child as the reasons why he’s choosing to step down. He’s the director of the documentaries “Hitchcock/Truffaut” and of “A Letter to Elia,” but he most recently wrote and directed the critically acclaimed “Diane,” which made its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival back in 2018 and was released by IFC Films earlier this year.

He’s also a close personal friend with Martin Scorsese and co-wrote Scorsese’s documentary “My Voyage to Italy.” Scorsese’s latest film “The Irishman” is now set as the opening night film of NYFF 2019.

Also Read: Mardik Martin, 'Mean Streets' and 'Raging Bull' Co-Writer, Dies at 84

Jones joined Film at Lincoln Center in 1998, first as an executive director of programming. In 2002, he joined the selection committee of NYFF and served in that role until 2009, until finally being appointed the festival’s director in 2012. He’s also been a contributor to Film Comment magazine and was named Editor-At-Large of the publication. Between 2009 and 2012, he was the executive director of the World Cinema Project.

News of Jones’s departure was first reported by Variety.

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www.thewrap.com | 9/19/19

Academy Award-nominated producer Vincent Landay is partnering with former VICE chief creative officer Eddy Moretti’s Unbranded Pictures in the hopes of building out a multimedia company, it was announced Wednesday.

Under Moretti and Landay’s leadership, Unbranded Pictures will develop, produce and finance original and engaging feature films and episodic television for global audiences. The duo recently collaborated to create VICE Studios.

“Vincent Landay ranks at the top of a rarefied list of creative, innovative, and accomplished producers, not just in Hollywood, but in the world of contemporary cinema. Full-stop,” Moretti said.  “He has the rare ability to understand a director’s aesthetic, emotional and philosophical vision. He is an artist whisperer, a director’s accomplice and collaborator. He translates their wondrous ideas into a production solution tailored to bring their dreams to life. I look forward to this new storytelling adventure with Vincent. There could be no better partner and friend for this next chapter. And to top it off, his family comes from the same small town in Southern Italy that mine does, so we’re probably related. It certainly feels that way.”

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Landay added: “We are at an inflection point in our industry where there are enormous opportunities for bold content creators and auteurs — the kind of storytellers and artists that I have worked with my entire career. Partnering with Eddy and Unbranded will allow me to use the breadth of my experiences as an entrepreneur and producer to build a slate that we believe will inspire, provoke and engage audiences worldwide.”

Unbranded’s first feature film, “The Report,” will screen at Toronto International Film Festival this month.

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Prior to joining Unbranded Pictures, Landay spent over 25 years producing with Spike Jonze. Their collaborations have received 12 Academy Award nominations, and have been honored by the Golden Globes, as well as BAFTAs. His credits include “Her,” “Being John Malkovich” and “Where the Wild Things Are.” He has also worked with directors David Fincher, David Lynch and Harmony Korine.

Landay is represented by attorney Michael Adler of Lichter, Grossman, Nichols, Adler, Feldman & Clark. Unbranded Pictures is represented by Endeavor Content.

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www.thewrap.com | 9/4/19

Rick Dalton, the actor played by Leonardo DiCaprio in “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood,” does not exist. But he feels like he could, because director Quentin Tarantino has mapped out an entire filmography for Dalton that plausibly places him within a changing Hollywood in 1969.

The fake movie scenes and posters Tarantino has created for Dalton are a portrait of a certain type of actor in the ’60s: a handsome, ruggedly masculine type who would soon be replaced as the default Hollywood leading man by a more androgynous aesthetic inspired by the emerging counterculture. Tarantino has said on several occasions that Rick Dalton’s screen persona and his career trajectory are an amalgam of guys like Steve McQueen, George Maharis, Vince Edwards, Edd Byrnes, Ty Hardin and more. And if you have forgotten who some of those actors are, that’s essentially Tarantino’s point.

“What he’s dealing with is even more than the TV and movies transition, as big a deal as that is, especially to him. The culture has changed underneath him, the entire Earth has gone topsy-turvy as far as he’s concerned, as far as a whole era of leading men is concerned,” Tarantino said on the “Pure Cinema Podcast,” which looks at the programming at Tarantino’s New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles. “They spent their careers running pocket combs through their pompadours. Nobody is putting pomade in their hair anymore, nobody is wearing pompadours any more.”

Also Read: Tarantino's 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood': How the Stars Compare to Real-Life Characters (Photos)

The roles Dalton takes throughout “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood” aren’t just for color: they reflect his character and how he looks at himself as an actor. Thankfully, Tarantino has taken most of the guess work out of deciphering the inspirations behind Rick Dalton and his filmography and detailed the inspirations for each of Rick Dalton’s fake movies that appear in the film and in special promotional posters for “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood.”

Here’s a rundown of each of those fake films and the real movies and shows that Tarantino based them on:

“Bounty Law” – Steve McQueen in “Wanted: Dead or Alive”

Columbia Pictures

Before Steve McQueen was in “Bullitt” and “The Great Escape,” he was a TV cowboy. Tarantino said Rick Dalton’s “Bounty Law” and McQueen’s “Wanted: Dead or Alive” were “pretty much identical shows” and that they even aired at the same time, sparking fan magazine rivalries in his alternate Hollywood universe. But whereas McQueen successfully transitioned from TV to film, Dalton couldn’t do the same, and now he’s stuck guest starring on other people’s TV shows as the bad guy who gets beat up by the new kid on the block.

Here’s a screenshot from the “Wanted: Dead or Alive” opening titles for reference:

CBS/Four Star Entertainment

Also Read: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Did Bruce Lee Really Teach Sharon Tate How to Fight?

“Tanner” – Tab Hunter in “Gunman’s Walk”

Columbia Pictures

“Tanner” is one of Rick Dalton’s early films, a Western he made during the hiatus of filming “Bounty Law” that he hoped would launch him to movie stardom. And it’s most closely based on the 1958 film “Gunman’s Walk” starring Tab Hunter, another handsome actor that Tarantino said was a loose model for Dalton. Tarantino even included the Western as part of a curated film marathon that’s airing on the Sony Movie Channel in conjunction with “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood.”

Here’s the 1958 theatrical poster for “Gunman’s Walk” for comparison:

Columbia Pictures

“Nebraska Jim” – Burt Reynolds in “Navajo Joe”

Columbia Pictures

“Nebraska Jim” is a spaghetti western directed by Sergio Corbucci, who Al Pacino’s character in the film refers to as “the second-best director” of the genre (behind Sergio Leone, almost certainly). But of course Corbucci is a real director who Tarantino adores. His 1966 film “Django” helped inspire the title to “Django Unchained,” and a poster for the 1968 film “The Mercenary” appears in the theater visited by Sharon Tate in “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood.” Corbucci’s “Navajo Joe” however stars a young Burt Reynolds as a Native American warrior who seeks revenge on a group of outlaws who savaged members of his tribe. The title “Nebraska Jim” also veers closely to another 1966 film called “Ringo del Nebraska” starring Ken Clark.

Check out the posters for “Navajo Joe” and “Ringo del Nebraska”:

Dino de Laurentiis

Also Read: 'Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood' Premieres to $5.8 Million at Thursday Box Office

“Operazione Dyn-o-Mite!” – Ty Hardin in “Moving Target” (a.k.a. “Death on the Run”)

Columbia Pictures

In “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood,” Dalton’s “Operazione Dyn-o-Mite” is described as an Italian, spy movie ripoff of James Bond as directed by Corbucci. And though Corbucci was known for his spaghetti westerns, he took a departure from the genre and make a spy movie called “Bersaglio mobile,” retitled in the U.S. as “Moving Target” and “Death on the Run.” Tarantino on the Pure Cinema podcast said he directly lifted the car chase from “Moving Target” but subbed in DiCaprio’s face over Hardin’s. And in the fake movie poster for “Operazione Dyn-o-Mite,” DiCaprio’s outfit is strikingly similar to what Hardin wore in the film.

Here’s an American “Death on the Run” poster for comparison:

Directed by Sergio Corbucci

“Kill Me Now Ringo, Said the Gringo” – Giuliano Gemma in “A Pistol for Ringo”

Columbia Pictures

Tarantino has fun with the rhyming title of Dalton’s “Kill Me Now Ringo, Said the Gringo,” also known by its Italian title, “Uccidimi Subito Ringo, Disse il Gringo.” Tarantino’s New Beverly Cinema wrote a blog post that says the title is inspired by two films starring Giuliano Gemma called “A Pistol for Ringo” and the sequel “The Return of Ringo.”

Check out the posters for “A Pistol for Ringo” and “The Return of Ringo” below:

Also Read: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Roman Polanski Blamed Bruce Lee for Sharon Tate's Murder

“Red Blood, Red Skin” – George Maharis in “Land Raiders”

Another western in Dalton’s spaghetti western period in Italy, Tarantino said on the “Pure Cinema Podcast” that the fictional plot of “Red Blood, Red Skin” is inspired by “Land Raiders,” which is about an outlaw who commits a string of robberies and then places the blame on a tribe of Apaches, sparking a Native American war. Tarantino imagines that Dalton stars in the film alongside Telly Savalis, who also appears in “Land Raiders,” and Tarantino said he created the fake poster seen in the movie by replacing Maharis with Dalton in the Spanish poster for “Land Raiders.”

Here’s a shot from “The Land Raiders”:

Columbia Pictures

“The 14 Fists of McCluskey” – “Inglourious Basterds”

This movie in Dalton’s filmography isn’t necessarily a direct surrogate of an existing film, though the concept, a war film set across enemy lines during World War II, feels similar to movies like “The Secret Invasion” from Roger Corman and starring Edd Byrnes or “The Dirty Dozen.” However, the scene staged in “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood” of Dalton torching a room full of Nazis with a flamethrower is eerily similar to the climax of Tarantino’s other revisionist period piece, “Inglourious Basterds,” which saw the Basterds torch a theater filled with Nazi bigwigs and also starred “Once Upon a Time’s” Brad Pitt.

We don’t have an image of the fictional film, but up above you can see shot from that incredible “Inglourious Basterds” scene to tide you over.

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www.thewrap.com | 7/27/19

Quibi is cooking up another food-centric series, adding “Shape of Pasta” to its lineup of shows, which will be hosted by renowned chef Evan Funke, it announced Thursday morning.

The short-form series follows Funke, a James Beard Award nominee, as he searches for pasta experts living in Italy. Funke will use his time on the screen to introduce viewers to the culture, history and lore behind rare shapes and textures of pasta in an effort to keep them alive.

The eight-part series, which is produced by Emmy Award-winning and James Beard Award-nominated Ugly Brother Studios, follows the announcement of another food-oriented show ordered by Quibi, “Biggest Little Cooking Show.” The competition series will feature two chefs battling it out to see who can make the most mouth-watering, single-bite foods that can fit on a dime-sized plate or, in some cases, on a grain of rice.

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The two shows join a growing list of projects at Quibi, which include an adaptation of the 1993 thriller”The Fugitive” from Nick Santora and an untitled Liam Hemsworth-led action thriller. Most recently, the company announced a partnership with NBC News to create daily news programming targeted at millennials. The NBC partnership marks the first major producer for Quibi’s curated daily news and information programming called Daily Essentials.

Expected to launch in 2020, Quibi is a streaming service designed specifically for mobile consumption. Backed with more than $1 billion from the likes of 21st Century Fox, Disney, NBCUniversal, Viacom and WarnerMedia, the service has already sold $100 million worth of advertisements ahead of its launch.

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www.thewrap.com | 7/18/19

Gina Gershon and other members of the cast of Woody Allen’s new film defended working with the director, calling the opportunity “a dream come true.”

“It’s a beautiful script; a dream come true,” Gershon said in a press conference Tuesday. “These are crazy times; one has to analyze the situation and decide how you feel; I’m delighted to be part of this team.”

Filming on Allen’s film, under the working title of “Rifkin’s Festival,” begins Wednesday and is scheduled to wrap by Aug. 20. The project stars the previously announced Christoph Waltz, Wallace Shawn, Elena Anaya, Louis Garrel, Gershon and Sergi López.

Woody Allen is set to begin production on his 51st film in San Sebastian, Spain.

Also Read: Woody Allen Releases 'A Rainy Day in New York' Trailer Despite US Distribution Limbo (Video)

Allen was also on hand for the press conference, and he described “Rifkin’s Festival” as “a romantic comedy about some folks from the United States who arrive at the San Sebastian Film Festival, and what happens has a comical resonance to what takes place here.” He added that the city in the Gipuzkoa region of Spain is like a character in the film.

Allen was asked at the press conference whether he would one day consider retiring.

“I’ve always focused on my work and that absorbs my brain,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what’s happened to my wife, my children and politics. I’ll probably drop dead in the middle of setting up a sequence.”

Also Read: Woody Allen's 'A Rainy Day in New York' to Get Fall Release in Italy

Like Gershon, Anaya similarly referred to the script as “the most beautiful story” she had ever read and praised working with Allen.

“It’s a day-dream, because Woody is a genius, he’s endearing and a legend; It has been a huge pleasure to be directed by him,” Anaya said.

“He discovered me and there’s a special magic about filming with him once again,” Wallace Shawn, who has collaborated with Allen in the past, said of working with the director. “It’s something very beautiful; because it’s his dream and we walk through that dream.”

Also Read: Amazon Fires Back at Woody Allen Over Breach of Contract Lawsuit

Allen describes “Rifkin’s Festival” as a “tribute to cinema” and follows a couple during the San Sebastian film festival in which the woman has an affair with a brilliant French director and the man falls in love with a Spanish woman living in the city.

The MediaPro Studio, an offshoot of the MediaPro Group, will co-produce the film. They previously collaborated with Allen on his globe trotting films “Midnight in Paris,” “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger” and “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.”

Allen’s 50th film “A Rainy Day in New York,” starring Elle Fanning and Timotheé Chalamet, is reportedly being released in several international territories despite being caught in distribution limbo in the U.S. after Amazon nixed its distribution deal with Allen.

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www.thewrap.com | 7/9/19
Italy’s Il Cinema Ritrovato Festival, which is dedicated to cinematic treasures of the past, last week wrapped its 33rd edition with a record-breaking turnout. Long a summer fixture for vintage film geeks and distributors it also draws prominent contemporary cinema personalities. This year these included Academy president John Bailey, Francis Ford Coppola, Nicolas Winding Refn, Jane […]
variety.com | 7/3/19

Keanu Reeves was among the 19 Hollywood actors and filmmakers who signed their names to a statement condemning an attack by fascists on the Italian cinema group Piccolo America.

According to Italian media reports, the attack occurred in the Rome neighborhood of Trastevere during a June 16 outdoor screening of Paul Schrader’s film “First Reformed.” Four members of the group were attacked for wearing the film collective’s shirts, which the attackers were reported as believing  were “anti-fascist.” Five men have been detained in connection to the assault, with at least one of them being connected to the youth wing of Italy’s neo-fascist political party CasaPound.

Also Read: Jon Bernthal Rips Alt-Right 'Punisher' Fans: 'F-- Them'

In response, Piccolo America posted a statement on their Facebook page signed by Reeves, Schrader and recent Oscar winners Spike Lee, Guillermo del Toro and Alfonso Cuaron, among others.

“It is unacceptable that there is still someone that thinks they can impose their view through the use of violence,” read the statement in Italian. “We can’t accept a wound of this kind, inflicted not only to the world of art and cinema but to the whole world.”

“We express our solidarity to the youth attacked in Rome, as well as the experience of the Cinema America and all young people who create a dialogue between the world of art and people.”

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The group’s founder, Valerio Carocci, also condemned the attack in an interview with IndieWire.

“We are under attack because we can talk to the vast majority of people in a very bipartisan way,” Carocci said. “It is pretty clear that all over the world right now, there is some message going on that the use of private violence is OK.”

Piccolo America is continuing its outdoor screenings throughout the summer, including a presentation of the “Star Wars” film “The Empire Strikes Back” on Sunday night.

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www.thewrap.com | 6/30/19
For decades, Italy’s box office has suffered the summertime blues due to a scarcity of blockbusters from the Hollywood studios, which noted that Italian audiences were more interested in going to the beach than a movie theater. However, that is changing. The Filming Italy Sardegna Festival, which runs June 13-16 and is Italy’s single start […]
variety.com | 6/13/19

Quentin Tarantino has loomed over this year’s Cannes Film Festival ever since the lineup was announced on April 18 and he wasn’t on it. At the press conference to reveal this year’s slate, Cannes chief Thierry Fremaux went out of his way to say that Tarantino’s film, “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,” was missing from the lineup simply because it wasn’t finished, and that he hoped Tarantino would complete the editing in time to bring it to Cannes.

He did finish and he did bring it. Boy, did he bring it.

Tuesday turned into Tarantino Day on the Croisette, with hordes of passholders clamoring, pushing and shoving to get into the first press screening and tickets at a premium for the official premiere. (It was also the only competition film to be excluded from the early morning press screenings restricted to a limited number of outlets.)

Also Read: Tarantino's 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood': How the Stars Compare to Real-Life Characters (Photos)

Tarantino has begged the press not to include any spoilers in reviews, and he had a Cannes official do the same on stage before the press screening began. (The announcement drew a few boos.) But it’s no spoiler (and probably no surprise, either) to say that “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” is big, brash, ridiculous, too long, and in the end, invigorating. It’s a grand playground for the director to further fetishize old pop culture, to break things and hurt people, and to bring a wide-eyed glee and a robust sense of perversity to the whole craft of moviemaking.

But it also, curiously, shares a kinship with Pedro Almodovar’s “Pain and Glory,” a delicate memory piece that is one of the most moving films in the Cannes competition. Almodovar’s film is the work of a lion in winter, a director in a moment of crisis and reflection looking back on his life and career with regret and longing. Tarantino’s film could scarcely be more dissimilar stylistically, but you can see it as the work of a 56-year-old artist wondering about his place in a changing industry.

At least, that’s what his main character is doing. Rick Dalton is a hugely successful TV actor in the 1950s and early ’60s who wants to be more than that – but the industry is changing, and he’s not sure how he fits. (His options, basically, seem to be playing guest villains on TV series or heading to Italy to make sub-Leone spaghetti Westerns.)

Also Read: Quentin Tarantino's 'Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood' First Reactions: 'Wow. Floored'

Rick’s stunt double, aide de camp and best friend, Cliff Booth, has no such fears; he knows exactly who he is and what he can do, and even a slumping career (since his fate is inextricably tied to Rick’s) doesn’t seem to faze the guy.

The roles are as juicy as they come, and Leonardo DiCaprio (Rick) and Brad Pitt (Cliff) know exactly what to do with them. The spectacular talkiness of previous Tarantino films is in shorter supply in “Once Upon a Time” – but whether it’s Rick describing the plot of a Western novel to an 8-year-old co-star or Cliff facing off against a blowhard Bruce Lee, there are enough gems scattered throughout the film to make this worthy of the DiCaprio’s and Pitt’s first onscreen time together.

The film covers six months in 1969, but it’s filled with homages to (or outright re-creations of) old TV shows, old movies, old advertising jingles: Tarantino indulges in his obsessions as he gets to direct all the stuff he loved as a kid. He also gets to recreate the Hollywood of 1969 by tracking down just about every neon sign that still exists from that era, and re-dressing stretches of Hollywood Boulevard to look like the street of his memories.

Also Read: Quentin Tarantino's 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' to Premiere in Cannes After All

(Back when the film was being shot, plenty of people were nitpicking about how Tarantino was using marquees and stores that aren’t actually 1969-appropriate – but if you think the guy has any interest in being a stickler for history, you haven’t been watching his previous movies.)

The Tarantino jukebox gets the kind of workout it hasn’t since “Pulp Fiction” (Roy Head! Paul Revere and the Raiders! Neil Diamond! Vanilla Fudge!), and for almost two hours and 40 minutes, Rick and Cliff wrestle with career and personal problems and, yes, cross paths both with Sharon Tate (Rick’s next door neighbor, played by Margot Robbie) and the Manson family (who host a memorable visit from Cliff).

The film takes its time, to the point where at times it starts to feel sluggish – but even the slower moments have delicious touches or wonderful cameos (ladies and gentlemen, Bruce Freakin’ Dern!) And slowly but surely, this bravura homage builds up to … something.

Also Read: Tarantino's 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' Teaser Drops Timely Clues It Goes Back Way Before the Manson Murders

And that’s where the film becomes difficult to write about. Tarantino doesn’t want reviewers revealing “anything that would prevent later audiences from experiencing this film in the same way” that we did, and it’s probably inevitable that I’ve already done that. But I’m not going to say anymore, because he’s right that the film needs to be experienced with fresh eyes, and its spectacular conclusion shouldn’t be foreshadowed.

Suffice it to say that “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” (those ellipses are important, people) is Quentin Tarantino’s most contemplative movie until it isn’t.

Happy Tarantino Day, Cannes.

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www.thewrap.com | 5/21/19

This weekend, a European phenomenon is back — though Americans may have to hunt for clips on YouTube or seek out a VPN and watch via another country’s home broadcaster.

The Eurovision Song Contest, a cross between “The X Factor” and the Miss Universe pageant that offers Yanks a glimpse of what it’s like to be in a culture that doesn’t have jazz and blues as the foundation of its pop music.

For those who’ve never seen — or even heard of Eurovision — before, here’s a quick primer to get you caught up.

Also Read: Taylor Swift on 'Taylor Swift Award' Win: 'I'm Really Super Relieved' (Video)

What exactly is this contest?
Eurovision began as an idea back in the mid-1950s as a way for Europe to come together after World War II had ripped it apart. It was a pretty revolutionary effort for its time. Television was still the Wild West of communications and the Olympics hadn’t yet become an international broadcasting event. Eurovision was one of the first major attempts to hold an event that people from a wide range of countries could watch. With that in mind, the organizers wanted each country to showcase a song that was indicative of their culture.

That sounds like a pretty noble goal.
Yes … but it was also very out of touch with what was happening with music at the time. Rock ‘n’ roll was beginning to take root and The Beatles would take the world by storm just a few years after Eurovision’s inception. This meant that Eurovision’s lineup of ballads and cultural pieces quickly felt antiquated compared to the rock revolution that was going on in the charts. And that was six decades ago … the entries would only get weirder from there.

How weird?
For starters, there was once a rule implemented on and off over the years stating that participants could only enter songs that were in their country’s main language. When that rule was in effect, some countries found a loophole: give the song a hook that involves complete gibberish. Songs with titles like “Boom Boom” and “Diggi-loo Diggi-ley” poured out while the home-language rule was in effect.

Then there are the artists themselves. As Eurovision has evolved, more and more ridiculous acts have come out of the woodwork. Finnish monster-rock bands, Russian grandmas and Latvian pirates are among the acts that have performed for a TV audience of hundreds of millions in recent Eurovisions. And that Finnish monster rock band actually won.

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Jeez! So is this just some musical freak show?
Well … let’s be fair. While there’s always been some silly novelty acts, there’s also some solid bits of Europop on hand every year from genuinely talented folks. Sweden won in 2012 with “Euphoria,” a soaring dance track by “Idol” contestant Loreen that went multi-platinum in her country after her victory.

There’s also a small handful of top stars on the winners’ list you might recognize. ABBA used Eurovision as a launch pad to stardom in 1974 with their song “Waterloo,” and French-Canadian Celine Dion’s win in 1988 was her biggest claim to fame before “Titanic” came out. Quality — or at least creativity — does tend to win out at Eurovision.

OK, so how does this contest work?
First, all the countries have a national contest where they vote on which song will represent at Eurovision. The participants are divided up into two semifinals, with the exception of the host nation and the “Big Five” countries — France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the U.K. — who automatically qualify for the final.  They are joined by the 10 countries that get the most votes in each semifinal. In the final, all 26 countries get three minutes to make a good impression, and then the whole continent votes “Idol”-style (not for their home country, of course), as do professional juries for each country.

Then the show transitions to a long procession of national “ambassadors” reading out who each country gave their votes to. The top 10 performers in each country’s vote get points, with 12 points going to the top vote-getter, followed by 10 and then eight down to one for the rest of the order. The same goes with the juries, but with 10 points going to the performer in first place.

And what does the performer with the most points win?
This trophy. Oh, and their country gets to host the competition next year.

What? No prize money? No contract? No vague promises of superstardom?
Nope. The winners do get their 15 minutes of fame and some success on the charts, but beyond ABBA and Celine, Eurovision winners almost never have long-term success. Again, Eurovision long ago moved away from the sort of music that leaves a lasting cultural impact.

Even now, a good chunk of the acts are homogenous power ballads that can blur together when performed in succession. Still, Eurovision is worth watching just for the spectacle of it all. The Disneyland-esque sweetness of the proceedings is charming, and the lack of stakes for the performers keeps it feeling light and fun rather than a battle for wealth, glory, and continental supremacy.

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It has also made headlines in recent years that have allowed it to take steps beyond the realm of annual oddities like the Running of the Bulls. The winner in 2014 was gay Austrian singer Thomas Neuwirth, who performed as drag queen superstar Conchita Wurst. The victory transformed Conchita into an LGBT icon in Europe, even as Russian conservatives raged in fury and used the singer as an example of why Russia shouldn’t be a part of the EU. For all of Eurovision’s platitudes about tolerance and peace, this was a moment where those ideals were actually acted upon, even if it meant breaking the general tone of inoffensiveness.

If it’s supposed to be European, why is Australia a competitor?
It turns out that Eurovision has a major cult following in Australia, and they were invited to compete several years ago as a thanks for all the support down under. The expansion of the European Union means countries like Azerbaijan and Israel get to compete too.

So…if all these countries that aren’t strictly European are competing, does this mean we may be seeing the USA compete in Eurovision soon?
Eh…don’t count on it.

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www.thewrap.com | 5/18/19

“Pasolini” is not a biopic of the late Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini (played here by Willem Dafoe). The complicated director of “The Gospel According to St. Matthew,” “Teorema” and “Salo, or The 120 Days of Sodom” (a scene involving its editing opens the film) was more personality than a 90-minute movie could handle. Any filmed biography presuming to grapple with the whole of his life would beg to be, at least, a limited TV series.

This is, perhaps, one reason why director Abel Ferrara (“Bad Lieutenant”) has scripted (with Maurizio Braucci, “Gomorrah”) a 24-hour ticking clock that mostly ignores chronology and backstory. It’s the final day of Pasolini’s life, presented as part historical detail and part imagined glimpse into the man’s mind, and it culminates, as it must, in his brutal murder at age 53.

Fittingly, to touch on the life of a man who was a writer, a filmmaker, a philosopher, a Communist, an atheist, and openly gay in a time when it was still quite unsafe to be so, Ferrara has constructed a kaleidoscope, a fragmented collection of moments that don’t explain Pasolini’s life as much as they quietly live in seemingly haphazard juxtaposition and admiration for the artist’s intellectual rigor.

Also Read: 'At Eternity's Gate' Star Willem Dafoe on Learning to Paint to Play Vincent van Gogh

Pasolini works on “Salo,” he types, he sits for an interview, he interacts with “Teorema” actor Ninetto Davoli (Riccardo Scamarcio, “John Wick: Chapter 2”), he plays soccer, he cruises for sex, he eats dinner with his mother (Adriana Asti, “The Best of Youth”) and his friend, the actor Laura Betti (who appeared in “Teorema,” and eventually directed a documentary about Pasolini, and who is played here by Maria de Medeiros).

He imagines scenes from a novel he’s writing, as well as scenes from a film he wants to make — in a sly casting move, one that features a character played by the real Ninetto Davoli — and then, late at night, he takes the wrong young man to the beach for sex.

These fragments of activity, the intentional absence of traditional narrative continuity, the disinterest in easy biography or reasons why the man was who he was, even the choice to present occasional scenes without English subtitles, are not why “Pasolini” is frustrating. Ferrara makes sure that his hero gets to speak to the ugly authoritarian times in which he lived, reminding viewers that Pasolini’s tough-minded philosophical stances — summed up in the interview scene with Dafoe delivering ominous warnings about humanity’s desire to possess, control and destroy — are as relevant now as they were 45 years ago.

Watch Video: 'Florida Project' Star Willem Dafoe on Why Shooting at a Real Motel Made it Authentic

It’s a daring structural gamble, one that works on its own terms, and one that will also thoroughly confuse anyone unfamiliar with Pasolini’s life and work. But with this determination to eschew simple explanations, to avoid being reductive about the cause and effect of an artist’s work and life, and to remain true to the cloudy circumstances surrounding Pasolini’s murder, comes a troubling directorial decision to turn the man’s death into a symbol — of what is unclear.

It’s a gay-bashing, conducted by a group of men on a beach; whether or not it was, as some believe, a politically motivated assassination, or simply the fallout of a cultural politic that works to dehumanize all queer people, the camera sees fit to linger. It sticks around for the beating, the crushing of the skull, and then for the body being run over by a car. It’s almost as fetishistic as the death Dafoe endured in “The Last Temptation of Christ,” and it serves to upstage everything that comes before it.

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It’s a muddled final punishment that wants to evoke the grueling tortures of “Salo,” and to amplify an earlier line in the script spoken by Dafoe: “There’s nothing that isn’t political.” But with only Dafoe’s calmly defiant line readings to set the stage — he’s reserved throughout in a confident performance that deserves a movie with much more narrative and contextual meat on its bones — the agonizing scene plays as an invitation to pity rather than to rage.

A history of cruelty and obliteration of those who would dissent and work against religion-based authoritarianism, a history embodied by the destruction of a man whose life was marked by this very dissent and refusal, becomes, in “Pasolini,” part of another troubling cinematic history, one that kills gay characters in the last act.

Yes, it really happened, but whether based on true stories or not — and so many of them are not — “Pasolini” reluctantly takes its place in a cinema of admonition that turns human lives lived against oppressive opposition into simplistic warnings against having sex on the beach. The man deserves better.

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www.thewrap.com | 5/10/19

The internet started to take on momentum in the 1990s. At that time many analysts, myself included, marveled at the opportunity of creating a platform that would boost grassroot democracy. There was no need for a middleman and there were few barriers to ordinary people becoming involved. This included organizing groups, discussions and events, sharing knowledge, insights and information, publishing opinions — just some of the potential attached to the internet. And for the first two decades, this basically was what happened, in a very positive and constructive way. It did disrupt several business, social and political models but that that was seen as 'a new broom sweeping clean.'

All of that is still happening — and as a matter of fact, it has only increased. However, at the same time, the ugly side of humanity has moved into this area as well. They all jumped on the bandwagon — cheats, plain criminals, misogynists, racists and bullies. This was very unfortunate, but it became serious when more organized misuse of the internet began to take place. This is undermining democracy and democratic processes; many people began to say enough is enough.

Most of the misuse is aimed at generating fake traffic that leads to extra advertising income or click income on YouTube for instance. In proportion to overall internet activity the other, serious political misuse is significantly less. It has, however, far deeper negative consequences. It is using manipulation to set people against each other. It interferes with democratic processes such as elections and undermines democratic institutions.

This criminal internet activity happens more or less in parallel with broader traditional forms of manipulations and is not limited to the internet. The fake news activities and the undermining of democratic institutions are for example carried out by President Trump without the internet. The same is happening in countries such as Britain, Turkey, Hungary, Poland and Italy, to name just a few.

There is no doubt that the internet has become an important tool to create division, hatred and conflict. This has more to do with human behaviour than with technology. Addressing only the technology element of this problem will not solve the much more serious underlying issues.

Division, lies, hatred, fake news, racism and conflict are being used by our leaders in public. It is then not difficult to understand that people perceive this as a license to do the same, with or without technology.

It is important to state that it is not the internet that is causing all of this. So far the internet has created far more positive than negative outcomes, and we need to preserve what's best about it. Most importantly, this includes the freedom for people to express themselves. Equally important is that entrepreneurs can innovate and build new business models. At the same time, we need to ensure that we protect society from broader harm.

We can look at what we have done with other tools that we use — tools like guns, cars, chemicals and drugs. All these products and services can have negatives associated with them. What we have done over the years to address this is to build elements into these products and services to limit the risk and increase safety.

This has been done through the hard work of everyone involved: the government and industry, as well as the users/consumers. As an example, look at cars in the 1970s. They killed 3 to 4 times more people than they do now, and our population has nearly doubled over that period. How did this change happen? Partly through regulation, partly through better products, and partly through human behaviour.

Have we, as a result, eliminated all the harmful elements of motor cars? No, of course not. But the risks have been reduced considerably over those years. This to such a level that the negative (e.g., death by car accidents) seems to be acceptable to most of us. Is that enough? No, it isn't. And so we are still trying to improve, through the combined efforts of government, industry and us, the people.

We will also have to begin to develop similar processes in relation to the internet. However, before we know what we need to do, we will first have to drill down to where the problems are and work out who can do what in addressing the issues.

Starting with the government, Mark Zuckerberg mentioned the need for a more active role for governments and regulators. He suggested the need for an update of the rules for the internet. In particularly in four areas: harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability.

In relation to the industry, he recommends starting with data manipulation aimed at defrauding the internet companies. Here the social media companies have a vested interest in tackling that problem themselves as fraud cost them money. The tools that they develop to minimize this can also be used to address other data manipulation issues — for example, interferences in elections and fake news. As Zuckerburg indicated, the government will also have to play a key role in setting up the rules for this. This will also need to be done at international levels.

It will remain a cat and mouse situation. New — more sophisticated — technologies to combat this will be developed, and they will be circumvented by criminals, and this process will continue. In the end, criminal interferences will be greatly reduced. The reason being that it simply becomes too costly for many of the groups to come up with their own tools to crack the ones developed by industry. The best hope here is for a managed situation, similar to those that have been created to manage other potentially dangerous tools, as in the motor car example.

A challenging issue here is the fact that what is harmful to one society, culture or religion is not necessarily the same for another group. A real threat — or even perhaps a reality — is that this would lead to a further regionalization of the internet. Countries such as China, Iran and North Korea have already created their own walls around the internet, and Russia is also trying to build its wall.

Another issue in relation to the industry is whether some of these companies are becoming too dominant and are showing monopolistic tendencies. A very human reaction to this is that we don't tolerate monopolies. We, therefore, need to start looking at industry legislation, be it anti-trust remedies, breaking up companies or other solutions.

Lastly, we also need to drill down on the people's side. We need to identify and address what causes the problematic behaviour of those misusing the internet before we can address these issues. Education and information at schools and elsewhere will be important. They will deliver longer-term positive outcomes.

Full-blown criminal behavior, racism, hate speech and the like are already punishable under existing laws. Our enforcement agencies, however, are still not well-equipped to address Internet-based crimes as effectively as they address similar crimes conducted in more traditional ways.

I am sometimes alerted by people who read my analyses to information or activities that are of an illegal or criminal nature. I report them to the appropriate authorities, but I have never received an answer from them. And if one goes to a police station to report internet abuse that will still too often elicit a blank look from the officer at the desk.

In order to get the people on board here, they need to be supported by well-functioning institutions. They should be able to take effective action against individuals that are crossing the line online. At the moment there is a feeling among the public that they are losing control over some of the central mechanisms of their lives. In the case of the internet, the lives of most people have been improved, and it has created lots of new economic activity. At the same time, it is also clear that the negatives of technology are such that people are not comfortable with the risks and safety issues. Comparing this with the example of motor cars, it is obvious that more work is needed. And whether we like it or not, people want action now.

So far this is resulting in some countries introducing broad and vague sweeping laws. Laws which are not implemented effectively, because it is impossible to do so while they are still being written. We clearly need to improve on that.

This will become increasingly apparent as time goes on. My colleagues in America say that the problems with the hastily introduced social media legislation will soon become evident in Australia. Other countries will learn from these mistakes and will adopt more realistic legislation to safeguard innovation, economic growth and freedom of speech. These core democratic elements seem to become the casualties of bad legislation. With a lack of effective self-regulation from the digital media giants, there is however no doubt that major changes to these negative elements in the use of the of the Internet will increasingly be regulated and legislated.

Written by Paul Budde, Managing Director of Paul Budde Communication

www.circleid.com | 4/24/19
"This is madness! Total madness." Kino Lorber has debuted the trailer for the documentary Walking on Water, about legendary maverick artist Christo. With uncensored access to Christo and his team, the doc film is a "cinema vérité look at the celebrated artist and his process, from inception to completion of 2016’s most visited art event—The Floating Piers, a stretched 2-mile dahlia-yellow walkway that allowed over 1.2 million visitors to safely walk across stretches of Italy’s Lake Iseo to experience the sensation of floating and walking on water." You may have seen photos of this remarkable large-scale work of art, but there's also a remarkable story about how it came together - and almost fell apart. "The film takes the viewer on a journey into Christo's world, unmediated by interviews, voice-overs or reenactments, drawing a portrait of an artist who deliberately places visceral experience over demagogy." It's also described as an intimate look at "a man chasing (and eventually realizing) a ...

Spyglass Media Group has made its first big creative hire, bringing in Lauren Whitney as president of television. She will begin April 1.

Spyglass Media Group is the joint venture between Gary Barber’s Spyglass and Lantern Entertainment. In July 2018, Lantern acquired the assets of The Weinstein Company out of bankruptcy for $289 million. It walked away with three unreleased films after haggling with filmmakers and producers over the rights to several of the projects, and a library of content.

In this role, Whitney is charged with overseeing television development and production for broadcast, cable and OTT services, and invigorating the company’s IP and library titles. She was most recently in the same role at Miramax. Prior to that, Whitney was the president of Scripted Television at Legendary Entertainment and was a TV agent at WME before that.

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Through the new venture, Spyglass will own and control all of Lantern Entertainment’s current assets, including a wealth of development projects and more than 250 film library titles, as well as scripted and unscripted television series. One such series, “Project Runway,” which will return home to Bravo for its 17th season when it premieres March 14.

“There is extraordinary opportunity for a well-capitalized, independent premium content company that controls IP, and can be agile and aggressive in its deal-making,” Whitney said. “Gary has an exceptional track record and an ambitious plan for the future of Spyglass. I am thrilled to be joining his team.”

The partnership, which includes Italy’s largest indie distributor Eagle Pictures and Cineworld Group — one of the world’s largest cinema chains — as strategic investors, creates an independent premium content company that comes with a majority investment from Lantern.

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Headquartered in Century City, the company will be led by Barber, who will serve as chairman and CEO and oversee all operations.

“Lauren has discerning taste, stellar industry relationships, and has overseen production on a variety of compelling series across all platforms,” Barber added. “We are fortunate to have Lauren’s talents and creative leadership as we build on our television business.”

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www.thewrap.com | 3/25/19

From antiquity until the 16th century, Italy was at the centre of Western culture, fulcrum or origin of the Etruscan civilization, Ancient Rome, the Roman Catholic Church, Humanism and the Renaissance. During this time, Italy produced some of the most notable painters, sculptors, poets, musicians, mathematicians and architects in history. Italy continued its leading cultural role through the Baroque period and into the Romantic period, when its dominance in painting and sculpture diminished and it reestablished a strong presence in music. Italian artists have been quite influential in the 20th century. They were the primary exponents of Modernism in the 1920s. Following World War II, Italian neorealism became an important force in motion pictures, and by the 1960s, Italy had established itself as one of a handful of great film cultures. Italian design shaped the look of the post-war world, and today Italy is arguably the international leader in fashion and design. Both the internal and external facets of Western Civilization were born on the Italian peninsula, whether one looks at the history of the Christian faith, civil institutions (such as the Senate), philosophy, law, art, science, or social customs and culture. Italy did not exist as a political state until its unification in 1861. Due to this comparatively late unification, and the historical autonomy of the regions that comprise the Italian peninsula, many traditions and customs that are now recognized as distinctly Italian can be identified by their regions of origin. Despite the political and social isolation of these regions, Italy's contributions to the cultural and historical heritage of Europe remain immense. Famous elements of Italian culture are its opera and music, its iconic gastronomy and food, which are commonly regarded as amongst the most popular in the world, its cinema, its collections of priceless works of art and its fashion (Milan is regarded as one of the fashion capitals of the world). Italy is home to the greatest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites (44) to date. The precepts of the Roman Catholic Church, the spirit of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, are factors which greatly shaped Italy's architecture, culture and art.


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