Benjamin Zeccola is the CEO of Palace Cinemas, which is behind this event. Benjamin reveals himself as a hopeless romantic with a deep love for movies. He joined his father’s business when he was only six years old.
“Some of my earliest memories are cleaning up the cinemas in between sessions. I can remember being four years old and walking between the aisles with a box picking up Maltesers boxes and they’re great memories that I cherish. I was absolutely determined from about six years old that I was going to help my father run the business. I’m lucky to be able to do that.”
'Ignorance Is Bliss'
A passion for cinema and shines through when discussing some films from the programme. “I’m excited Greta Scacchi is going to be involved in the festival this year, being a Perth Australian and I think her father was Italian, so she’s a local with an Italian connection who’s going to be heavily involved in our jury. We’ve introduced a competition for the first time. There’s a film involving Toni Servillo who is the star of ‘The Great Beauty’ and will be featuring in our opening night film ‘Let Yourself Go’. There’s a film about Dalida; she was a French-Italian singer, one of Europe’s most famous singers from the late ‘50s through to the ‘80s. She was a huge star and so there’s a film about her amazing life. Italians love to do their quirky comedies so there’s a lot of choices for comedies.
"We have a special 20th anniversary screening of ‘Life Is Beautiful’. The star and Director who goes by the name Pif, [of ‘The Mafia Only Kills In Summer’], he’s an Italian television host, film director, actor, writer and comedian so he’s well known there. He’s back with a film called ‘The War for Love’ which I think will be a festival favourite. There’s another great comedy ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’. There’s 'Emma' directed by Silvio Soldini and it's starring Valeria Golino, she’s quite well known and he’s a favourite director of ours. There is some beautiful heart wrenching films, one of them is called ‘Pure Heart’ which screened at Cannes Film Festival. It’s a 'Romeo and Juliet' story about forbidden love, a boy and girl from opposite sides of the tracks just drawn to each other and they fall in love and there are consequences. So that’s a beautiful film.
'Let Yourself Go'
"Another amazing film is called ‘Sicilian Ghost Story’ which is based on a true story and it’s just a beautiful mix of fairytale and reality.”
In the age of increasingly disparate audiences and digital downloads Benjamin keeps thinking how it all comes back to people: “You’re not going to meet your future husband or future wife sitting on the couch watching a download. Humans are social beings and we crave enriching and entertaining activities that we can do together with each other.” He explains.
The Italian Film Festival includes a programme with the very best Italian films, touring throughout Australia bringing strangers together to enjoy a night out and live la dolce vita.
THE LAVAZZA ITALIAN FILM FESTIVAL TOUR DATES12 September-8 October – Chauvel Cinema, Palace Norton Street (Sydney)
13 September-1 October – Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas (Adelaide)
14 September-8 October – Kino Cinema, Palace Balwyn, Palace Brighton Bay, Palace Cinema Como, Palace Westgarth, The Astor Theatre (Melbourne)
14 September-8 October – Palace Electric (Canberra)
20 September-8 October – Palace Barracks, Palace Centro (Brisbane)
21 September-11 October – Cinema Paradiso, Luna On Six (Perth)
19-25 October – State Cinema (Hobart)