Metro Detroit's 2017 edition of the Italian Film Festival USA will have free screenings of contemporary Italian cinema at Wayne State in General Lectures on April 28 and 29.

Now in its 13th year nationwide, the Italian Film Festival USA is offering 95 screenings of recent Italian films this year. In addition to Detroit, the festival expands to other American cities. Last year’s event in Metro Detroit drew more than 3,500 people and was the most highly attended of all participating cities.

"The festival is a festival that focuses on contemporary Italian cinema—it's all local premieres of films that have been produced and distributed in the last couple of years," said Elena Past an associate professor of Italian at Wayne State and a member of the festival's organizing committee.

"From the selection [of films], we are looking at a wide range of genres—all kinds of films from films made by first time directors to films that have been made by really well know Italian film directors," Past said. "We have everything from slap-stick comedies, blockbuster films and dramas, to experimental cinema—and since we have a really long tradition of realist cinema, we're going to have a couple of films that follow that tradition."

Three films will be screened at Wayne State, the first of which is "The Confessions" on April 28.

"'The Confessions' features one of the greatest actors working in contemporary Italian cinema, Toni Servillo, who was a Neapolitan theater director originally," said Past. "He has been in some of the most popular films over the last decade in Italy."

“He has this amazing expressive face,” said Past. “I feel like all you really need for a film is to watch this man gazing off into the distance. It's very moody and dark, and Toni Servillo just makes the entire film."

The other two films showing on April 29 are "On The Trail of My Father" and "They Call Me Jegg".

"’On The Trail of My Father’ is really moody and there's not a lot of human dialogue, it's really about relationships, and this father and son—it's absolutely this kind of new neo-realism,” Past said. "[‘They Call Me Jegg’] I love because it's so unusual for Italian cinema; it's sort of a film in two parts—it starts off as what seems to be an organized crime film and then it transforms into this bizarre superhero film by the end."

The 2017 Italian Film Festival USA of Metro Detroit has numerous sponsors and is supported by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs Immigrant program, as well as the Italian community at large.

"The festival isn't just for Italians of course. I think anybody who loves cinema can get into the festival, but we're so grateful that we have so many sponsors who support the festival—it's really fun to see all of these different Italian groups from the north-east side of Detroit to the Livonia area and Ann Arbor who all come together to support the festival," said Past.

The screening at Wayne State on April 28 will start at 7 p.m. and the screenings on April 29 will start at 5 p.m. All of the films will be shown in their original language with English subtitles. For more information about the Italian Film Festival USA of Metro Detroit, visit the festival’s website

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