Ciao, bella... At 17 years old the LIFF is looking better than ever
If you’re a film lover in Australia then you probably owe a debt of gratitude to the Zeccola family without knowing it. Brothers Antonio and Franco Zeccola arrived in Melbourne in 1957 at age 14 and 12 and went on to open cinemas for the purpose of screening Italian films to migrants.
Sixty years later Antonio is the grandee of the Palace Cinemas dynasty and one of his daughters, Elysia Zeccola Hill, is the director of the Lavazza Italian Film Festival, which Antonio founded in the late 1990s.
“I grew up watching foreign language films from a young age,” says Elysia. “I’ve always loved that unpredictability of not knowing where the film is going. To this day I don’t like formulaic mainstream films.”
Last year the Italian Film Festival enjoyed over 70,000 admissions around Australia and that number is set to increase in 2016. Elysia says that the Italian cinema industry is undergoing a renaissance.
“I think it’s having a resurgence since the Oscar win for The Great Beauty, which we opened with a few years ago – that put a spotlight back on Italy. The quality of the films has been really terrific; I feel like our line-up has been getting stronger every year.”
Elysia nominated ten movies in this year’s line-up as among the highlights.