CoverHaving spent much of my life assuming that any European country I visited would be FRANCE, and educating myself accordingly, I now find myself somewhat disconcertingly drawn to a different European destination (still vicariously, you understand, what with teenagers and earthquakes and life in general being so vraiment expensive).

All those years of Bonjour, and Ca va? and Ouvre la fenetre, s’il vous plait! are now being called into question, after several long conversations with well-travelled friends and relations.  Italy, not France apparently, is the place to go.  They have art there, and music, and history, and culture, and food, and coffee.  Lots and lots of coffee.

Quelle horreur! What to do? I must start all over again, learn a NEW language, find friends who speak Italian, immerse myself in a different culture, and all while staying home in Christchurch.

What luck, then, to arrive at the library and find our wee city is hosting the 15th Italian film festival. Starting on 20 October, the Rialto cinema will be showcasing 17 of the best and brightest Italian movies of recent years, thus enabling me to move past phrases like spaghetti bolognese, and on to the real Italy that awaits.  There’s even a grand opening night, with Italian beverages on offer, and the chance to show off your own language talents.

And even better, we’ve got two double passes to any of the film festival movies to give away.  All you need to do is … comment below by Friday 15 October, and tell us your favourite Italiano movie, poem or book (the competition is only open to Christchurch and Canterbury residents, and not to Christchurch City Council employees).

And for those who can’t wait, check out the library’s selection of Italian movies, Italian fiction, Italian language books, and Italian travel guides.

The recent Reel Anime Film Festival at Rialto proved to me once again that just as translated books offer alternative ways of telling stories, foreign movies can take you light-years away from Hollywood  formulas.

In the brochure, Summer Wars looked like a standard teen love story. Meh. King of Thorn  – dystopian sci-fi.  Meh-be. In the theatre, both of them took my preconceptions, ripped them to shreds, stomped on them, set them on fire and then threw them out the window.

CoverKing of Thorn, in particular, is a truly outstanding piece of cinema.   If I say it is a fantasy/horror/science-fiction/action-adventure retelling of Sleeping Beauty, set in the near future, this will still fail to capture any of its magic.  My movie-watching buddy said  it had completely altered his perceptions of everything in the universe.

And that’s the very best thing about these movies – that they take our pre-conceived ideas, shake them around, turn them upside down and hand them back to us, bigger, better and brighter than before.

To shake up your world:  search the catalogue for international films, by typing feature films and  a country into the search box, like this:

Then sit back and brace yourself …

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