Our Top 5 Foreign Christmas Films

Feliz navidad! С Рождеством! Buon natale! et Joyeux Noël!

After a few mince pies and glasses of mulled wine we’ve come up with our top 5 foreign Xmas films:

1. Plácido (Placido, Luis García Berlanga, 1961)

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Christmas has often been a period that inspires us to consider those less fortunate,  an idea that Plácido both commends and satirises. A community of old women commit to sit a homeless or infirm person at their table on Christmas eve, producing a touching as well as farcically funny results in this classic Spanish Christmas film. Read more on eyeforfilm.co.uk

 

2. Ирония судьбы, или С лёгким паром! (The Irony of Fate, Eldar Ryazanov, 1976)

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Described as the Soviet equivalent of It’s a Wonderful Life, this is the Christmas film (originally a mini-series) that Russians tune into every year. While it could be described as a Rom-com, The Irony of Fate adds a few typically Russian twists, such as a tragi-comic approach to the festive season and copious amounts of on-screen drinking.

 

3. Parenti serpenti (Poisonous Relations, Mario Monicelli, 1992)

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While being one of the definitive Italian Christmas films, Parenti serpenti is infinitely relatable for anyone who spends the holidays with their relatives. Festive, darkly humorous, and thoroughly underrated outside of Italy, this is one of our top picks for the holidays.

 

4. Single Bells (Xaver Schwarzenberger, 1998)

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Every year Austrians gather round their televisions for this black comedy, which is now approaching its 20th anniversary. Another black comedy about spending Christmas with loved ones, Single Bells might just give Parenti serpenti a run for its money!

 

5. Un Conte de Noël (A Christmas Tale, Arnaud Desplechin, 2008)

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Few Christmas films can boast having been screened in Cannes’ international competition, but A Christmas Tale is one of them. Featuring a stunning cast, including Catherine Deneuve, Mathieu Amalrica and Chiara Mastroianni (daughter of Marcello Mastroianni), this film toes the line between comedy and tragedy as family relationships play out around French matriarch Junon’s (Catherine Deneuve) search for a bone marrow donor.


Those are our top picks for those looking for some slightly alternative Christmas fare! Other films that didn’t quite make the top 5 include The Night before Christmas (Russia, Ladislas Starevich, 1913), Mon Oncle Antoine (Canada, Claude Jutra,  1971), Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (Finland, Aki Kaurismäki, 2010) and Pastorela (Mexico, Emilio Portes, 2011).

Which would you add?

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Property is No Longer a Theft

At 5-8pm, on Thursday 30th November, we’ll hold our first screening at the Hyde Park Book Club.

Luca Antoniazzi (University of Leeds, School of Media and Communication) will present Property is No Longer a Theft (Elio Petri, 1973). This film is the third in Elio Petri’s ‘Neurosis Trilogy’ – the first being An Investigation of A Citizen Above Suspicion, which was screened at the Leeds International Film Festival earlier this month.

Film Synopsis:

Having tackled the corrupting nature of power with Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion and taken an angry, impassioned look at labour relations with The Working Class Goes to Heaven, Italian master Elio Petri next turned his attentions to capitalism for the darkly comic Property is No Longer a Theft.

A young bank clerk (Flavio Bucci, the blind pianist in Dario Argento’s Suspiria), denied a loan by his employer, decides to exact his revenge the local butcher (Ugo Tognazzi, La Grande bouffe) who is not only a nasty, violent, greedy piece of work but also one of the bank’s star customers. Quitting his job, the clerk devotes all of his time tormenting the butcher, stealing his possessions one-by-one, including his mistress (Daria Nicolodi, Deep Red).

Told in an off-kilter fashion by Petri, abetted by the woozy sound design and another outstanding score by Ennio Morricone, Property is No Longer a Theft presents a caustic, blackly comic look at a corrupt society.

— taken from Arrow Films

This screening is funded by the Centre for World Cinemas and Digital Cultures.

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Workshop with Gianfranco Cabiddu

On Wednesday 8th November at 11am, the University of Leeds is hosting a seminar and Q&A session with the director Gianfranco Cabiddu. The seminar will be in English, and it will take place in the Alumni Room of the School of English.
This is your opportunity to discuss The Stuff of Dreams (screened the night before as part of the Leeds International Film Festival) and other cinematic topics with Sardinia’s up and coming director.
You can find out more about the workshop here.
This event, and the screening of The Stuff of Dreams at the Leeds International Film Festival, are coordinated by Italian@Leeds, the School of English and LivItaly, in association with Leeds International Film Festival and Sardegna Film Commission.

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The Stuff of Dreams

We’ve chosen a special screening at the Leeds International Film Festival this year: Italy’s Oscar nomination, The Stuff of Dreams (Cabiddu, 2017). The film will be followed by a formal Q&A with the director. Moreover, we’ve been invited for drinks with the director afterwards.

We’ll meet at 7.15pm on Tuesday the 7th of November in front of the Parkinson steps at Leeds University and walk down to the cinema together. Please buy tickets in advance, as the event is likely to sell out.

The Stuff of Dreams has already won important awards including the 2017 David di Donatello and the 2017 Globi d’Oro.

*** Watch the trailer (with English subtitles) ***

Here’s how the director, Gianfranco Cabiddu describes the film:

On a wonderful island occupied by a prison for more than 100 years a group of actors, coming from different parts and delved into an out-of-the-world landscape, create an immortal text where Shakespeare and Eduardo cooperate. Like any castway of any storm they are also willing to overcome difficulties thanks to the carelessness of art. That’s the Italian art of getting by, the ability to adapt in order to survive, which can recreate magic, carelessness, imagination and poetry in theatre and in life with just few elements. This film makes you laugh and move at the same time and it leaves a good taste in your mouth when leaving the cinema.

Mamma Roma

One of Pasolini’s earlier works, the often overlooked Mamma Roma has been described as being filmed ‘in the great tradition of Italian neorealism’, and offering ‘an unflinching look at the struggle for survival in postwar Italy.’ (Read more on The Criterion Collection website).

The film also stars one of the greatest Italian divas, Anna Magnani, as Mamma Roma – a middle-aged prostitute who struggles to overcome her past for the sake of her son, Ettore. As in many of his earliest movies (and the novels which preceded them), Pasolini explores the limited lives and dashed hopes of the cafoni, the Italian equivalent of America’s hillbillies. (Synopsis based on Rotten Tomatoes).

As usual, the screening will be followed by a group discussion over wine and nibbles.

When5-8pm, Wednesday 25th October

Where: Seminar room 1, Botany House

 

This screening is funded by the Centre for World Cinemas and Digital Cultures and the AHRC OWRI fund.

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The Consequences of Love

For our next screening, the Italian Department’s Rachel Johnson will present Paolo Sorretino’s The Consequences of Love (2004).

The film contains one of the most important cinematic trios in Italian film – one which will continue to work together films from Il Divo (2008) to The Great Beauty (2013) and Youth (2016) – director Paolo Sorrentino, cinematographer Luca Bigazzi, and lead actor Toni Servillo.

This is how Sight and Sound described The Consequences of Love when naming it its film of the month: ‘Just as an exercise in style, Consequences would be exceptional, but in its second half, as events gather momentum, it creates a compelling sense of existential vertigo, like a fatal fall captured in the most deliberate slow-motion.’

As usual, the screening will be followed by a group discussion over wine and nibbles.

When: 6-9pm, Wednesday 31st May

Where: Seminar room 1, LHRI

This screening is funded by the Centre for World Cinemas and Digital Cultures and the AHRC OWRI fund.

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