The Gathering, Anne Enright’s fourth novel and winner of the 2007 Man Booker Prize, centers around the nine children of a large Irish family who gather together for their brother’s funeral. It starts off with the main character, Veronica Hegarty having a memory about something that she might have witnessed about her brother years ago in her grandmother’s house, problem is that she has no idea if it really did happen or not …
Her latest novel, The Green Road (2015), won the Irish Novel of the Year. It follows the lives of four adult children spread over three continents, each struggling to cope with their own lives as well as with their difficult mother who announces that she will be selling the family home. The self-absorbed children return to the small Irish town in Country Clare where they grew up, and are forced to confront the realities and complexities of their family situation.
Moving, humorous yet sad, Enright’s intriguing writing style has captured the attention of fans around the globe. She was recently named the inaugural Laureate for Irish Fiction.
With her quick wit and fantastic sense of humour deeply engaging audiences worldwide, an evening with Anne Enright is one event you don’t want to miss!
Many dread winter — the cold, the wet, the short days. Me, I love it! To bandy around the latest fashionable word, winter brings us the opportunity for hygge writ large: cosying up indoors enjoying the simple pleasures of a hot drink and a good book or film.
And this year there is an additional reason to welcome June because, together with the icy tendrils of winter, it brings us the warmth and conviviality of the second edition of the Cinema Italiano Festival NZ.
The brainchild of Kiwi-Italian actor, director and playwright Paolo Rotondo, the Festival redoubles the successes of its inaugural year with a fantastic selection of 20 features, ranging from traditional to comtemporary masterpieces.
So much so that, when I started selecting my top 3 picks, they somehow multiplied on me. I present you then (in random order because ranking them further is just too hard!) my top 9 suggestions.
The Spanish Steps, the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain! Breathtaking, stunning Rome is as much a star of this classic 1953 romantic comedy as Audrey Hepburn and the iconic Vespa scooter. Not coincidentally, Roman Holiday has been selected as the Opening Night film for the Festival.
Rocco e i Suoi Fratelli / Rocco and His Brothers
The epic tale of five brothers who migrate from the poverty of post-war Southern Italy to the wealthier industrial North, this is the other classic masterpiece of the Festival. Directed by Luchino Visconti and featuring Alain Delon and Claudia Cardinale, Rocco and His Brothers promises to be a glorious experience in the new digital restoration by Martin Scorsese.
Non Essere Cattivo / Don’t Be Bad
Italy’s entry in the Foreign Language Oscars for 2015 is the perfect flip-side to Roman Holiday: an R-18 drama featuring two twenty-something “losers” living on the outskirts of Rome in the late 1980s. As the Festival booklet describes it, Don’t Be Bad is a “gritty, visceral, rollercoaster ride, but at its core […] a clever and deep exploration of friendship, hope and life”.
Quo Vado? / Where Am I Going? Quo Vado? delivers 90 minutes of laughs while skewering the Italian obsession of pursuing a cushy public service job-for-life. As the highest-grossing film in Italian cinema history, it’s a cultural phenomenon not to be missed.
Perfetti Sconosciuti / Perfect Strangers
Another huge hit in Italy. A group of friends get together one evening and agree for fun to let the others read and hear all the messages and phone calls they receive on their smartphones. What could possibly go wrong?
Belli di Papà / Daddy’s Girl
As an Italian, I have to admit that there is some truth to the stereotype that many Italians are rather spoiled by their parents, at least by NZ standards. In fact I have known a fair few molly-coddled Italian men (I may even have one or two in my extended family, who I trust won’t be reading this…). So how could I resist watching “three ‘bamboccioni’ (big babies) […having…] to experience something they have never done before, work”?
Veloce come il Vento / Italian Race
This comedy drama won a swag of David di Donatello, the Italian Oscars. It tells the story of 17-year-old Giulia, who is trying to win the GT Championship, while dealing with the death of her father and the reappearance in her life of her drug addict brother Loris.
La Stoffa dei Sogni / The Stuff of Dreams
A tale loosely based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest which sees Camorra criminals and a theatrical company end up shipwrecked on a Mediterranean prison island. I was sold as soon as I spotted the setting: Asinara, an island off the north-western tip of Sardinia, which is now a nature reserve and home to albino donkeys.
Fuocoammare / Fire at Sea
The setting is another starkly beautiful Mediterranean island, but the tale this time is true and much grimmer. Fire at Sea documents the tragedies which take place day in and day out in Lampedusa, the southermost Italian island and the first port of arrival for thousands of refugees escaping conflict in North Africa and the Middle East. If that is not enough to convince you that you should watch Fire at Sea, it won Best Film at the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival and Best Documentary at the 2017 Academy Awards.
The Christchurch leg of the Festival runs from 14 to 25 June at the Academy Gold Cinema at The Colombo. We are very lucky to have a double pass to the opening night of the Festival to give away to our readers. This not only includes the screening of Roman Holiday but also a complimentary aperitif and appetizers.
To enter the competition email your contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Cinema Italiano Festival competition” by 5pm on Monday 5 June. (Sorry, staff of Christchurch City Libraries and Christchurch City Council are not eligible to enter). Good luck!
Tell us about your first live (and paid) performance?
Singing Heartbreak Hotel at the 1980 A&P Show in Christchurch. I was four and I was paid an orange popsicle. I don’t remember singing so well as it was my dancing which won the day. Never underestimate the combination of candyfloss, roman sandals and a hot day to bring out your best performance.
As a grown up, it would’ve been playing a backyard party for Dig-A-Tattoo. I was paid the handsome fee of one black flag tattoo on my wrist.
Which venue in the world would you love to play?
I always had a dream of playing inside Sun Studios in Memphis, and I was lucky enough to get to do that nearly fifteen years ago. Now considering I make my living playing music I’m more than happy to say “The next one”.
Are there any old Christchurch music venues that you’d love to see revived?
There was a moment for about a year in 1998 (before it moved to the Southlander tavern) where the Jetset Lounge in the side bar of the Provincial Tavern, seemed like a perfect place to play. Otherwise I would like to go back in time to when I was 12 so I could re-sneak in to the Blenheim Road Motor Inn and see Hammerack and Shihad when they still played covers.
What was your local library when you were growing up and which one do you use most nowadays?
Bishopdale! And it is still my Bone Marrow fave!
Do you have a favourite book/author/style?
My favourite book is The Fools Progress by Edward Abbey. My favourite author is just maybe Kurt Vonnegut or Ernest Hemingway. And my favourite style is anything that aches with some sadness but has an essential good heart running like a thread or a beam holding the whole thing up.
Where do you go in NZ when you need a holiday?
Generally I just go home. Waking up in my own bed feels like a holiday as I spend so much time away. However Arthur’s Pass is my favourite bolthole.