The signature image for this year’s Italian Film Festival is taken from the movie Superheroes (2021), a tender dramatic comedy about a mismatched couple, Anna and Marco (Jasmine Trinca and Alessandro Borghi), which follows a passionate decade-long struggle to keep their relationship alive. In the image, the smiling couple are seen riding a scooter on a narrow road, she hanging close to him as they round a bend, with the Mediterranean a glistening backdrop. You can see why it was selected. It’s an iconic image — and while the scooter isn’t the classic Vespa, it’s a stand in for one.

The Vespa made its movie debut in 1950, four years after its market launch, in the Italian film Sunday in August (1950), and became a worldwide status symbol in Roman Holiday (1953) with the celebrated scene of Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck weaving their way through Rome on a metallic green Vespa 125. During the last 70 years, countless actors sat on the Vespa, which appeared, or even took a leading role, in numerous films — comedies, dramas, action movies, social commentaries — including images of Charlton Heston in Ben-Hur garb riding round a Cinecittà set and John Wayne looking almost as comfortable astride one as he was on horseback. 

Apart from Superheroes, there are several other romantic comedies (all released 2021) in the 2022 IFF, but none star a Vespa: Breaking Up in Rome, a homage to the Italian capital, delves into the difficulties a couple faces when they separate after many years together; Blackout Love charts a commitment-phobic volleyball coach who has her life completely figured out until her ex reappears; and With or Without You upends the way we may view a relationship crisis by following a couple who decide to separate amicably.

Edoardo Leo (lead role and director) and Marta Nieto in Breaking Up in Rome (2021)

Actor and theatre director Toni Servillo (The Great Beauty) features in three films: as the lead in The King of Laughter (2021) — a biography of Neapolitan comic theatre legend Eduardo Scarpetta — and has major roles in The Inner Cage (2021) and Casanova’s Return (2022).

Three documentaries are screening this year: Ennio – The Maestro (2021), from director Giuseppe Tornatore (Cinema Paradiso), celebrates legendary Italian composer Ennio Morricone and features interviews with Oliver Stone, Quentin Tarantino and Bernardo Bertolucci, plus the man himself prior to his death aged 91. Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams (2020), directed by Luca Guadagnino (Call Me by Your Name), charts the life of shoemaker Salvatore Ferragamo in a love letter to the fashion icon and, tracing the birth of the Roman Empire, Power of Rome (2022) explores the marvels of the city and its history led by Roman native Edoardo Leo.

This festival is honouring the centenary of the birth of the celebrated Pier Paolo Pasolini in a retrospective presenting three of his iconic films: The Canterbury Tales (1972) on its 50th anniversary, Arabian Nights (1974) and The Decameron (1971).

In all there are 27 films across most genres.


On at Palace James and Barracks, Brisbane, 21 September to 16 October 2022 –