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Attend the free Italian Film Festival April 18 through 28. Films will be screened at the Lake Theater and Cafe from April 18 - 21, and then at Bloodworks Live Studio in Portland the following week.

PMG PHOTO: BARB RANDALL  - Liane Cabot, catering manager at Nicoletta's Table and a committee member of the Italian Film Festival of Portland, invites all to attend the free screenings of first run Italian films April 18 through 28. Four films will be shown at Lake Theater and Cafe in Lake Oswego.

Andiamo al cinema!

That's Italian for "Let's go to the movie!"

Whether you speak Italian or not, let this serve as your invitation to attend the 15th annual Italian Film Festival USA, hosted by the Associazione Cultural Italiana di Portland (ACIP, Italian Cultural Association of Portland). The festival takes place April 18 through 28, and for the second year in a row, films will be shown in Lake Oswego at Lake Theater and Cafe.

"This is the 15th year of the film festival," said Liane Cabot, a member of the committee organizing the film festival, and catering manager of Nicoletta's Table and Marketplace in Lake Oswego, one of the film festival sponsors. "Each year it has grown, and it's all free. The festival is intended to promote an understanding of Italian culture."

"Last year we had very positive feedback from all the Lake Oswego viewers that attended and we wanted to continue to work with the community there in order to grow the event," said Pasquale Madeddu, another of the film festival committee members. "Between Portland and Lake Oswego the Italian Film Festival had over 1,000 attendees in 2018 in the two weekends and we are hoping to surpass that this year."

The festival was originally held at Portland State University, but in an effort to bring the films to more people Lake Theater and Bloodworks Live Studio in Portland were utilized as venues last year.

Cabot says the Italian Film Festival USA originates in St. Louis, Missouri, and tours 14 American cities across the nation. Portland is the only West Coast city on the tour. The films selected include newly released small and independent films from award-winning directors as well as debut films from new talent.

"It's a smaller version of the International Film Festival (held in Portland during February)," she said. "It allows these films to be seen by a broader audience."

"The lineup of movies have the intent to showcase the Italian traditions, some aspects of the daily social life of Italians, historic sites, beauty of the landscape and some of the problems that we do have in Italy," Madeddu said.

All the films are in Italian with English subtitles.

This year the City of Lake Oswego has joined in supporting the film festival by organizing lectures related to Italian culture, presented by two board members of ACIP, Allessandra Gardino Montgomery and Angela Zagarella.

Montgomery, managing director of Customized Journeys and president of the Italian School of Portland, presented travel tips for discovering the Hidden Gems of Italy April 9.

Zagarella, the Language Courses coordinator and Italian language professor at Portland State University, will discuss challenges and changes facing Italian society at 4 p.m. April 18 at the library, 706 4th St., Lake Oswego.

She organized the first Italian Film Festival at PSU in 2004, in partnership with ACIP. She has been co-executive director of the Portland Bologna Sister City Association, is currently on the board of the Italian Business Club Foundation and is the president of the Oregon chapter of Sicilia Mondo, which promotes Sicilian culture and tradition around the world.

The films to be screened at Lake Theater include:

- April 18, 7:30 p.m. — "As Needed," a comedy directed by Francesco Falaschi. Arturo, a talented chef with a troubled past, is assigned to serve community time as a cooking instructor at a school for teenagers with Asperger's syndrome. One of the students, Guido, has great talent and passion for cooking. Will the improbable friendship between the two help Arturo change his life around?

- April 19, 7:30 p.m. — "Bob & Mary's, a comedy directed by Francesco Prisco. Married couple Roberto and Marisa lead a tranquil and uneventful life until criminals break into their house and fill it with boxes containing illegal merchandise. This practice, known as 'accuppatura,' forces the homeowners to warehouse the items. That is until the couple makes a bold move.

- April 20, 5 p.m. — "Just Believe," a comedy directed by Alessandro Aronadio. Massimo, owner of a dilapidated bed and breakfast, is overwhelmed by his tax burden. He has an epiphany: In order to survive, he must transform his B&B into a place of worship, earning it tax-free status. Get ready to convert!

- April 20, 7 p.m. — "Balentes" a documentary directed by Lisa Camillo. A journey to expose the truth about NATO bombing ranges that have had devastating consequences on the local human and animal population of the once pristine island of Sardinia.

Films screened at Bloodworks Live Studio (1210 SW 6th Ave., Portland) include:

- April 26, 6 p.m. — "Mathera" a documentary directed by Francesco Invernizzi. A journey to Matera, a troglodyte city once defined as the "Shame of Italy," that today has become a desired tourist destination, UNESCO World Heritage Site and the 2019 European Capitol of Culture.

- April 26, 8 p.m. — "Let Me Introduce You to Sofia," a comedy directed by Guido Chiesa. Gabriele, the divorced father of 10-year-old Sofia, meets the woman of his dreams. But Mara doesn't like children. How can he make the two most important women in his life happy?

- April 27, 6 p.m. — "Un Amore Cosi Grande," a sentimental movie directed by Cristian De Mattheis. Vladimir is a young Italian-Russian, raised in St. Petersburg by his mother, a former opera singer. When she dies she entrusts Vladimir with a mission: Find his father, who repairs instruments for the Verona Opera. Film includes cameo appearances by the three singers of Il Volo.

- April 27, 8 p.m. — "The Girl in the Fog" a drama directed by Donato Carrisi. In a small Alpine village, 16-year-old Anna Lou disappears. Vogel, a police detective who is famous for using mass media to create chaos, arrives. There are no clues, no tracks to follow.

- April 28, 3 p.m. — Short film program, including comedy, drama and animation. Seven recent films — "Filmesque," "Magic Alps," "Happy Hour," "SugarLove," "Day Labor," "Elvis" and "The World Cup in a Square" — are in competition for your vote for Best Short Film.

- April 28, 5 p.m. — "Like a Cat on the Highway," a comedy directed by Riccardo Milani. Giovanni and Monica are the most diverse people on the face of the earth. He is an intellectual living in the center of Rome; she is a former supermarket cashier living in a multicultural suburb. They would never have met if their children did not start dating. The two have a common goal: The friendship between their children like a cat on the highway, must end!

The films are offered free of charge. Audience members will have the opportunity to purchase raffle tickets at each screening to help reduce the cost of bringing the festival to Portland, with prizes such as free dinners at Italian restaurants including Nicoletta's Table, free Italian language classes and more.

Lake Theater's seating capacity for the films is 50 seats; Cabot encourages those wishing to see the films to arrive early.

"Come for a fun evening. Have a pizza, enjoy the show and learn something new about Italy," she said.

ACIP aims to organize in the future other Italian cultural events including concerts, cooking classes and literature or history lectures. Those wishing to get involved are encouraged to visit acipdx.org.

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