Articles by: Kayla Pantano

  • Life & People

    Happy Saint Lucy's Day in Italy!

    Throughout the country, Italians celebrate La Festa della Santa Lucia (The Feast of Saint Lucy) annually on December 13. While Santa Lucia is most popular in Scandinavia, she was born, lived, and died a martyr in Sicily. Therefore, special devotions for her take place up and down the peninsula, specifically in the north, but also in her home region of Sicily.

    Patron Saint of the Blind

    Lucia was persecuted for her faith around 300 C.E., making her one of the earliest recorded Christian martyrs. Various legends narrate that she would wear a candle-lit wreath as she carried food and aid to Christians hiding in catacombs. According to the traditional story, the saintly virgin refused to marry a powerful pagan man, who fell in love with her legendary eyes. Raging from rejection, he sent soldiers to blind her, but her eyes were miraculously restored. In another version, she plucked them out herself and sent them to her suitor on a platter. Roman authorities then ordered Lucia to work in a brothel, but she refused to go. As not even a fire set under her feet could get her to budge, one of her persecutors ultimately killed her by stabbing her in the throat with a sword.

    She has been venerated as the patron saint of the blind and is frequently shown holding her eyes on a golden plate. Perhaps not coincidentally, Lucia’s name derived from the Latin lux or lucis for light (luce in Italian). Her feast day once coincided with the Winter Solstice, the shortest and darkest day of the year before calendar reforms, and has accordingly become a festival of light. As it falls within the Advent season just 12 days before Christmas, Saint Lucy’s Day also points to the arrival of Christ, the light of the world. 

    Famine in Siracusa, Sicilia

    Lucia is also the patron saint of her hometown, Syracuse, Sicily. In fact, she gained greater fame here when the great Sicilian famine of 1582 ended on her feast day, thanks to the ship loaded with wheat that entered the harbor. Rather than processing the wheat into flour, the starving people simply boiled and ate it. Now, Sicilians honor her memory by abstaining from anything that is made of wheat flour on December 13. Traditionally, they eat whole grains, which usually take the form of cuccia—a dessert of boiled wheat berries sweetened with ricotta and honey.

    Today’s Celebrations

    Typically on this day, Italians gather together, burn candles and torches, and enjoy an abundance of food and drink. However, traditional celebrations of Santa Lucia vary according to region.

    In northern Italy, specifically in Trentino-Alto Adige, Lombardy, Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, and Emilia-Romagna, Santa Lucia is celebrated similarly to the Saint Nicholas tradition. But instead of traveling on a sleigh, she rides on her donkey and visits homes on the eve of her feast day, baring gifts for the good children. And rather than milk and cookies, families leave out coffee and cake—sometimes biscuits and oranges too—for the saint and water and hay for the donkey. However, the children cannot watch her visit, or she will throw ashes in their eyes, temporarily blinding them.

    In Milan in particular, you will see St. Lucy represented in the Cathedral, as she is considered the protector of the sculptors of the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo, who processed marble every day, continuously at risk of being hit in the eyes by splinters or blinded by the dust. Of the many important events that take place in her honor in the area, every year the Chiesa di Santa Maria Annunciata in Camposanto has a Mass to thank her and to distribute "St. Lucy’s bread."

    In southern Italy, Santa Lucia is honored with more traditional religious parades and feasts. The most important celebration takes place in Siracusa, of course. Festivities begin the night before when they move her silver statue from its chapel to the high altar of her candle-lit cathedral. The next morning, a procession of 60 men with green berets carry her silver statue throughout the entire city, making stops at the most important cathedrals and the Ionian Sea.

  • Dining in & out

    Kestè Wall Street Hosts 'Le Strade della Mozzarella' with a Surprise Guest

    Le Strade della Mozzarella, or “The Many Roads of Mozzarella,” returned to the Big Apple on June 28 and June 29 to the people of the food and wine industry’s delight.

    The two-day conference of tastings and presentations dedicated to high quality Italian products has taken place for the past nine years in the region of Campania in Southern Italy. And though LSDM is typically a congress of prestigious chefs from around Europe, it crossed the Atlantic for the second time to tell the stories of some of New York’s best artisans of taste—chefs, pizzaioli, and producers of gastronomic excellence.

    The events that took place were reserved for those who work in the food industry, serving as opportunities to meet and exchange ideas with producers and professionals in the restaurant world.

    A Focus on Authentic Italian Products

    The first day took place at the Baldassare Agnelli USA showroom and kitchen on 5th avenue in the heart of the Flatiron district. Sean Gray of Momofuku and Mauro Maccioni of Le Cirque both treated the attendees to presentations, as did Alessandro Rapisarda (Cafè Opera) and Gaetano & Pasquale Torrente (Al Convento), whose businesses are based in Italy. Throughout the day, there were also events dedicated to mozzarella di Bufala, the pasta of Gragnano, Neapolitan coffee, Italian Tomatoes, and extra-virgin olive oil.

    A Day Dedicated to Pizza

    Pizza, however, took the spotlight on the second day and not just any pizza but Margherita style. The event, organized in collaboration with the Antico Molino Caputo and Orlando Food Sales, took place at Kesté Wall Street on 77 Fulton Street. 

    In an effort to introduce a variety of different styles of pizza, all crafted from high quality ingredients, master pizzaioli Roberto Caporuscio of Kestè New York and Giulio Adriani of Atlanta held lessons to an audience of enthusiasts and professionals. Once they perfected their pies, they offered a selection to Jonathan Goldsmith from Chicago and to Gino Sorbillo and Rosario Ferraro (Antica Pizzeria Da Michele), who both flew in from Naples. 

    Matilda Cuomo: An Unexpected Attendee

    Though it wasn’t planned, after being spotted in the crowd Matilda Cuomo, New York's former First Lady and mother of current Governor Andrew Cuomo, was gifted a fresh pie of her own. And congratulations are in order, as she recently became a great grandmother to Mario Cuomo, who was named after her late husband.

    Now in center stage, Cuomo took the opportunity to talk about the New York State Mentoring Program, which provides career and life guidance to children who are at risk of failing out of school or are in foster care across the state.

    The New York State Mentoring Program

    “I’m here for a special reason,” she began. “I have a mentoring program in this country, Mentoring USA, and in this state my son, the governor, founded in 2015 the New York State Mentoring Program because many children were failing and leaving school.”

    “That is the best gift that your parents can give you is a good education,” she continued. “The New York Mentoring State Program is working hard so that kids stay in school. I started the program in 1984. So if you have a little time, if anyone here wants to be a mentor we will train you. It’s one hour just to stay with the child and help them. We train you. We train the child. It’s a wonderful program.”

  • Art & Culture

    A New Biography—“Toscanini: Musician of Conscience”

    What do Hector Berlioz (1803-1869), Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901), and Lorin Maazel (1930-2014) have in common? They’re all among the greatest conductors of all time. But who’s the best? Though one can’t say for sure, most music-lovers will point to Arturo Toscanini (1867-1957).

    The Italian first established himself as a talented conductor at the age of 19. Over the next few decades he worked with the most prestigious opera houses and symphonies across the globe, including La Scala, the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, and the NBC Symphony Orchestra. At 89 years old, Toscanini died in New York on January 16, 1957.

    To mark the 150th anniversary of his birth, eminent music historian, Harvey Sachs, published Toscanini-Musician of Conscience this past month with Liveright Publishing.

    Sachs, who has nine other books under his belt and writes for The New York Times, already published a biography of the great virtuoso in 1978, but this isn’t simply a new edition. Thanks to the new availability of huge archives of documents and letters—in 2002 he edited The Letters of Arturo Toscanini—this is an entirely new study at 944 pages, twice as long as the first biography.

    Sachs draws on this enormous range of evidence in meticulous detail. The result is a sweeping exploration of Toscanini’s personal and professional life from musical to political, beginning with his birth in Parma to his final days in NYC. And despite the book’s heft, it’s undoubtedly stimulating. In fact, Toscanini’s boisterous humanity truly does come alive.

    The biography presents him as who he was: generous, courageous, and principled, but with his flaws in tact, particularly his explosive temper and countless extramarital affairs. Yes, to the reader’s delight, Sachs does treat with a bit of gossip, but it’s all integral to the tale at hand.

    Of course, Sachs revealed how Toscanini’s first job came by accident. As the story goes, in 1886, he was on tour in Rio de Janeiro engaged as a cellist, but the audience refused to listen to the scheduled maestro. After a subscriber ran in shouting, “Isn’t there anyone in the orchestra who can conduct Aida?'” the teenager, who did know the entire work from memory, agreed to take charge.

    In fact, he had a phenomenal photographic memory and never used printed scores while performing. By the end of his career he had memorized 250 symphonic works and more than 100 operas.

    Though he was leading ensembles all over the world to rave reviews, this came at a cost. In pursuit of perfection, he barely slept five hours a night or saw his children very often.

    Beyond the podium, Toscanini was a fearless spokesman for democracy and freedom. He often risked his life to speak out against the evils of fascism, even refusing to conduct the “patriotic music” demanded by Mussolini’s lawless supporters.

    Definitive, absorbing, monumental, and captivating, the biography also allows the reader to encounter other fascinating figures with whom Toscanini interacted, like Puccini, Verdi, Mahler, Horowitz, and the relatives of Richard Wagner.

    And though those drawn to music, culture, and politics will all revel in the book’s glory, a layman can easily enjoy it, too, thanks to Sachs’s helpful reminders of important characters and explanations of basic concepts—not to mention his fluent and gripping writing style.

  • Events

    Williamsburg’s 130th Giglio Italian Feast Kicks Off

    Faith, food, live music, rides, Italian vendors selling specialties, and an 80-foot-tall, four-ton statue…what more could you ask for? Yes, you read that right. As tradition goes, no matter how unusual (yet simultaneously spectacular), Brooklyn’s Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St. Paulinus of Nola will feature all of those fun activities and attractions, including the five-story, hand-crafted tower, known as the Giglio (“lily” in Italian).

    Long story short, the feast originated with Neapolitan immigrants, who settled in Williamsburg over a century ago. They began this unique custom in 1903 to celebrate the release of St. Paulinus, an early Christian martyr taken prisoner by the Turks. Fast-forward to today, the tradition continues in a 12-day extravaganza filled with parades, artwork, tempting treats, and Catholic masses in several languages.

    The main attraction? When 125 men hoist the tower, topped with a statue of St. Paulinus of Nola, above them and parade it throughout the neighborhood while a 12-piece brass band plays on the platform. A “Capo,” a very honored gentleman of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish, uses a megaphone and calls out orders to the lifters: “Forward! Up! Down! Dance! Circulate!” And the immense tower, defying laws of gravity, “dances.”

    A close second is the re-enactment of St. Paulinus’ release from captivity, which includes an ornate, custom-made ship docking with the tower.

    This year’s Italian festival, in its 130th year, will commence on Wednesday, July 5, with an opening night mass, and lasts through Sunday, July 16. Fun fact, it’s 40 years older and only second in size to the Feast of San Gennaro in Little Italy. So come on out and watch the streets of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, come alive, and enjoy Italian delicacies like seafood, zeppole, braciole; have fun on a ride; or buy souvenirs you’d only find in Italy.

    Please see below for details and click here for the schedule.


    Monday—Friday: 6:00 pm—11:00 pm
    Saturdays: 6:00 pm—12:00 am
    Sundays:  12:00 pm—11:00 pm


    275 North 8th Street at Havemeyer Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 11211

  • Art & Culture

    ‘Pompeii like scene’ Found in Rome Metro Dig

    Excavations to extend the Metro Line C in Italy’s capital once again resulted in Roman archeological finds. Following the discovery of military barracks last year, which may have been used by the Praetorian Guard under Emperor Hadrian, the charred ruins of two early 3rd century buildings and the 1,800-year-old skeleton of a crouching dog were recently uncovered.

    Archeologists shared on Monday that they discovered the ancient solarium on May 23 while examining a 33-foot-deep hole bored near the city’s Aurelian Walls as part of work for the new public transport line.

    According to experts, the two spaces found from the dig date to the mid-imperial period of the Roman Empire and might be from either an aristocrat's home at the foot of the nearby Caelian Hill or from the aforementioned military barracks. Either way, the finds offer clues to how Romans lived and built at the time.

    The unearthed ruins feature well-conserved parts of a wooden ceiling and furniture, including a leg of a stool or table; another one, possibly from a wooden trunk; a small table; a larger table; a wooden railing or handrail; frescoed wall fragments with a reddish hue; and black-and-white mosaic floor tiles on the upper floor of the collapsed building.

    The dog's remains included part of a jaw with intact teeth and were found at the door of the house, indicating that the animal was trapped in the building.  

    "Mini Pompeii" in Rome

    The culture ministry described the findings as a “Pompeii-like scene,” evoking comparisons to the inhabitants trapped by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D. and preserved for centuries in volcanic ash. In this case, the solarium and adjacent structures were in excellent shape thanks to an onsite fire. "The material is only conserved in exceptional environmental and climatic conditions, or after special events like those that took place at Herculaneum and Pompeii.” Sources at the ministry continued, "For the moment, the discovery of a charred, wooden ceiling represents a unique event for the city of Rome.”

    Francesco Prosperetti, in charge of Rome's archaeological ruins and excavations, shared, "The fire that stopped life in this environment allows us to imagine life in a precise moment.”

    The Future of the Remains, Metro

    When asked if the remains would be displayed in the future Amba Aradam-Ipponio metro station, like the army barracks will be, an archaeologist explained that it’s too early to say for sure.

    "The placement [of the remains] must still be studied," she said. "But we believe that all this must have a placement that is worthy of it.”

    The ongoing excavation is taking place on the southern slopes of the Caelian Hill.

    The stretch of the metro from Amba Aradam to the Imperial Fora is scheduled to be unveiled in 2021.

  • Massimo Sola's "Almost Carbonara," last year's best pasta dish in New York
    Dining in & out

    The Second Annual Primo di New York

    In a city swarming with world famous Italian restaurants and secret gems that are just as good (if not better, shh!), it’s hard to narrow down a short-list of go-to spots when the options are endless. But imagine how much harder it is to choose one single pasta dish that trumps all—considering the average Italian menu features a bountiful variety, often in overwhelming numbers. Fortunately, this evening will reveal the champion.

    On Friday, June 23, an international jury of Italian and American food experts at the historic James Beard House will award the Primo di New York—the first competition to recognize New York’s best pasta dish, organized by Italian pasta company Pastificio di Martino in collaboration with the James Beard Foundation. This special prize celebrates Italian culture and gastronomy, emphasizing pasta as a staple of Mediterranean cuisine and tradition. 

    From the birthplace of pasta (Italy...duh!), the judging panel includes, Giuseppe di Martino (Founder of Pasta di Martino and President of the Gragnano Consortium), Albert Sapere and Barbara Guerra (Founders of Le Strade della Mozzarella), and Italian food writers Faith Willinger, Eleonora Cozzella, and Luciano Pignataro. The American judges include the likes Mitchell Davis (Executive Vice President of the James Beard Foundation), Colu Henry (Author of Back Pocket Pasta), and Sierra Tishgart (Senior Editor at Grub Street).

    Selected from dozens of submissions, the talented ten finalists are as follows: chef Rita Sodi (I Sodi); Garrison Price (Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria); chef Jarred Sippel (Italienne); chef David de Lucia (Casa Lever); restaurateur Ed Schoenfeld (Red Farm); chef Silvia Barban (LaRina); chef Matteo Limoli (MAMO); chef Joshua Pinksy (Momofuku Nishi); chef Raffaele Solinas (Maiella LIC); and chef Hillary Sterling of Vic’s.

    These lucky ten are set to cook for the judges at the James Beard House tonight. Once the experts come to a verdict there will be a private pasta dinner in honor of the winner prepared by Primo di New York’s 2016 champion, Michelin-starred chef Massimo Sola of MAMO.

    In addition to the dinner, the victor will be awarded $5,000 and a trip to Gragnano, Italy, known as The City of Pasta, to explore the history of Gragnano’s pasta-making and participate in Le Strade della Mozzarella, a conference celebrating Italian food and excellence.

  • Facts & Stories

    The Future of Fashion Lies in Ethics

    When it comes to fashion, there’s a reason that some trends come and others go, and I’m not just talking from an aesthetic standpoint. Many fads have serious social and environmental repercussions. Take the growing  practice of  “fast fashion.” Chain retailers like H&M and Forever21 design and manufacture clothes as quickly and cheaply as possible to meet super short fashion cycles. This approach can create poor working conditions, increase pollution, and result in shoddy products that are quickly thrown away. On the plus side, fur is out and faux is in—seals, otters, llamas, and large, spotted cats thank you. And while another shopping trend, thrifting, grows—one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, right?—and recycling becomes more common, the industry’s still a long way from sustainability. Green is not yet the new black.

    Environmental Impact and the Shopping Surge 

    The clothing industry is the second largest global polluter behind oil. Growing cotton requires more pesticides than any other crop and contaminates drinking water. It takes 2,700 liters (713 gallons) of water to make one t-shirt—enough to sustain one person for three months. The manufacturing of fabrics is always chemically intensive. Meanwhile, synthetic fibers like nylon and acrylic—made from petroleum—will take hundreds  of years to biodegrade. And polyester, which is present in sixty percent of today’s clothing, emits almost three times more carbon dioxide in its life cycle than cotton.

    Despite the alarming statistics, people are shopping more than ever. Whether or not the “cheaper, faster merchandizing” of apparel chains or social media is to blame, the world now consumes about 80 billion new pieces of clothing annually. And many of those clothes are thrown away at equally shocking levels: the average American generates 82 pounds of textile waste every year. Many donate clothes, but the bulk of the often-toxic textile trash ends up in landfills. Only a quarter will be recycled.

    Social Consequences

    The environment isn’t the only issue. The human impact is even more unsettling. The industry is rife with unethical labor practices, including the use of child workers, dangerous sweatshops, long hours, and very low wages. Workers are also exposed to harmful toxins that can increase the risk of cancer. And many water sources polluted by the industry are dangerous to our health. 

    That’s why many brands are starting to work for a more ethical fashion industry.  From design to sourcing to manufacturing, ethical fashion works to reduce poverty, defend fair wages and workers’ rights, address toxic pesticide and chemical use, and use eco-friendly fabrics. Simone Cipriani is one of many champions in this field.

    Simone Cipriani and the Ethical Fashion Initiative

    In 2009, Cipriani founded the Ethical Fashion Initiative, a flagship program of the International Trade Centre, a joint agency of the United Nations and World Trade Organization. Born in Tuscany, he noted, there were many people who had “a natural vocation for fashion. I grew up in a place surrounded by artisans, where many people were weaving and making shoes.” 

    Cipriani started in the Italian shoe and leather industry, and later moved to Ethiopia for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization to improve the national leather industry. He also worked in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. Meeting micro-producers, he saw an opportunity to connect skilled artisans with the fashion industry for mutual benefit, and the result was developing the Ethical Fashion Initiative.

    The Initiative’s mission is “People first.” It fights for a fair supply chain, living wages, and dignified working conditions. At its core, it provides artisans from the developing world the opportunity to manufacture luxury, value-added products for top designers under ethical conditions. Fashion becomes a vehicle for development, and empowers women by creating jobs and opportunities to become micro-entrepreneurs.

    The Initiative works with fashion houses and with local talent to encourage ethical, sustainable, and creative collaborations across Africa and in Haiti, Palestine, Cambodia, and, soon, Afghanistan. Its partners include Altaroma; Ilaria Venturini Fendi’s Carmina Campus; Karen Walker; Lancaster; sass & bide; Stella McCartney; Vivienne Westwood; and Vogue Italia. The results can please any socially aware fashionista.

    At NYU’s Casa Italiana

    In April, Simone Cipriani moderated a discussion at New York University’s Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò on  “Sustainability of Ethical Fashion in our Brave New World.” Here he joined six leaders at the forefront of ethical fashion. The participants included Oskar Metsavaht, artist, fashion designer, and founder of Osklen; Zolaykha Sherzad, humanitarian artist and founder/director of Kabul-based Zarif Designs; Andrew Ondrejcak, creative director, theater director, and artist; Molly Yestadt, fashion designer and founder of Yestadt Millinery; Valeriya Safronova, fashion columnist for The New York Times; and Leonardo Amerigo Bonanni, founder & CEO of Sourcemap, a supply-chain platform that maps traceability. 

    Panelists described how they made the needs of people and the planet a central part of their business models.  These efforts, panelists agreed, are today matched by an increasing consciousness among consumers that allows designers and their manufacturers to produce stylish clothing while protecting the environment. As long as designers and shoppers both demand heart and soul from the clothes they put on their skin (the body’s largest organ), the industry is on track to sustainability. In the meantime, their advice is to educate yourself on brands and fabrics, discard old clothing responsibly, and avoid fast fashion at all costs.

  • Events

    Italian Food Awards Come to Summer Fancy Food Show

    This Sunday the Javits Center, nestled appropriately enough on the outskirts of Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen, will be taken over by aromas from around the world with the 2017 Summer Fancy Food Show. The Specialty Food Association (SFA) presents this food industry event—the largest in North America—annually and though this year’s partner country is Turkey, Italy will also be taking the spotlight.

    After its successful worldwide editions, the Italian Food Awards will shortly arrive in the United States by way of New York City. The ceremony is set to take place from 5-7pm on June 25 in the Italian Pavilion at booth 2704, and will celebrate the most innovative Italian food and beverage products on the US market.

    Gruppo Food’s organized the program in collaboration with Universal Marketing and the SFA, whose president, Phil Kafarakis, shared: “The Specialty Food Association is very honored that Gruppo Food will be presenting the Italian Food Awards USA 2017 at our Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City. This marks the first time this prestigious global award is being presented in America.” He continued, “With Italy representing the largest international presence at our Show, it’s fitting for the SFA to join with Gruppo Food in highlighting extraordinary achievement in Italian food. The Italian Food Awards will certainly add to the excitement and innovation celebrated at the Show.”

    Barbara Bosini, Project Manager at, also shared: “We are really honored that the first US edition of the Italian Food Awards will take place at the Summer Fancy Food Show and that this event will give voice to the most innovative Italian products. For us it’s also very interesting to see how food retail operators in the United States, which is the world’s most receptive market for trends and innovation, interpret new Italian products in every category of the food and beverage sector.”

    The Selection Process and the Ceremony received a total 191 nominations from 112 Italian companies participating in the Summer Fancy Food Show. The organizers accepted maximum two candidate products from each participant and the products had to be new to the US market or launched during the previous 24 months. An all-American jury composed of selected operators of retail and foodservice, importers, and distributors then selected the winners from 10 categories: Bakery and Snacks; Beverage; Frozen Food; Olive Oils and Condiments; Pasta; Preserves and Sauces; Rice and Cereals; Salumi and Cheeses; Sweets and Confectionery; and Vinegars and Dressings. In addition to this, 3 special prizes dedicated to Packaging, Innovation-Creativity, and Sustainability will be given to 3 products among all the participants in the awards.

    The winners will be unveiled in the presence of famed personalities of the Italian food business community, including Kafarakis, Eataly’s Dino Borri, and US Food’s corporate chef, Mike Miello. Furthermore, a representative from olive oil brand Filippo Berio, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary, will present the “Welcome to USA” award.

  • Art & Culture

    Sofia Coppola Wins Best Director at Cannes Film Festival

    The 2017 Cannes Film Festival culminated on Sunday with an award ceremony in history-making fashion. Italian American Sofia Coppola became the second female director in the festival’s 70 years to win best director. The last was Russian filmmaker Yuliya Solntseva in 1961 for her dramatic tale of Nazi resistance in the Soviet Union, The Story of Flaming Years. Coppola won for The Beguiled, an atmospheric thriller set during the Civil War. 

    Sofia Carmina Coppola

    Daughter of the famed Francis Ford Coppola—best known for directing The Godfather trilogy, Sofia followed in her father’s footsteps and is now a screenwriter, director, producer, and actress. In 2003, she received the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for her comedy-drama Lost in Translation. In 2010, with the drama Somewhere, she became the first American woman (and fourth American filmmaker) to win the Golden Lion, the top prize at the Venice Film Festival.

    Her most recent award is significant for both female filmmakers and, of course, for Coppola personally. The last time she competed for the Palme was in 2006 with Marie Antoinette for which she was notoriously booed. This makes her victory all the more celebratory.

    Cannes Best Director Award

    When Jury President Pedro Almodóvar announced the Best Director prize for the The Beguiled helmer, juror Maren Ade accepted the prize for the absent Coppola. Ade ended the speech on Coppola’s behalf by thanking her parents, as well as director Jane Campion for “being a role model and supporting women filmmakers.” The Top of the Lake creator and Bright Star director happens to be the only woman to have won the Palme d’Or. She claimed the prize in 1993 for The Piano, which also landed her an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

    While Coppola was not present, she also released this statement: "I was thrilled to get this movie made and it's such an exciting start to be honored in Cannes. I'm thankful to my great team and cast and to Focus and Universal for their support of women-driven films."

    Now that Cannes has honored two women directors, it is officially ahead of the Oscars, which has honored only one, Kathryn Bigelow in 2009 for her low-budget Iraq war film, The Hurt Locker.

    Plot, Stars, and Release Date: The Beguiled

    The Beguiled is an adaption of Thomas Cullinan’s Civil War novel about a wounded Union Army soldier, who is found by the residents of an all-girls boarding school in 1864 Virginia. While Don Siegel directed his own adaption with Clint Eastwood in 1971, Coppola’s take is more explicitly a story of female empowerment. Nicole Kidman, who won the 70th Anniversary Prize, plays the headmistress of the secluded school. The film also stars Elle Fanning, Kirsten Dunst, and Colin Farrell.

    The Beguiled will be released in the US in select theaters on June 23.

  • Open Roads: New Italian Cinema 2017 | Trailer

    Open Roads 2017: New Italian Cinema at the Film Society Lincoln Center

    Unlike the vast majority of film festivals, the one up next on Manhattan’s calendar is devoted entirely to movies from a single country—in this case, il Bel Paese, or Italy. In fact for the past 17 years now, Open Roads: New Italian Cinema has been proudly offering New York audiences the most diverse and extensive lineup of contemporary Italian films. Sponsored by several Italian institutions, the mission of Open Roads is to showcase Italian cinema, providing an inside look into Italian culture, but also, of course, to garner wider distribution for its 14 feature-length films.

    As always, the series includes a mix of emerging talents and esteemed veterans, as well as both commercial and independent fare. Furthermore, it strikes a balance between outrageous comedies, gripping dramas, and captivating documentaries—all welcome alternatives to summer blockbusters. Showcasing eight North American and six New York premieres, the festival will take place from June 1-7 at the Film Society Lincoln Center - Walter Reade Theater (165 W. 65th St) and feature in-person appearances by many of the filmmakers.

    The festival will open with the New York premiere of Edoardo De Angelis’s award-winning Indivisible, a captivating tale about talented conjoined twins whose dreams for their futures start to diverge around their eighteenth birthday. The 13 additional titles set to screen include: At War with Love, acclaimed Italian TV personality Pierfrancesco Diliberto’s World War II–set satire; Federica Di Giacomo’s exorcism documentary, Deliver, which won the Orizzonti Prize at last year’s Venice Film Festival; Marco Tullio Giordana's Two Soldiers, the last in his popular organized crime trilogy; and The War of the Yokels, Davide Barletti & Lorenzo Conte's fable about a society at war, cast almost completely with children. See below for the complete lineup.

    Tickets go on sale May 4 at $9 for members, $11 for students and seniors (62+), and $14 for the general public. See more and save with the 3+ film discount package or the Open Roads All Access Pass. Learn more at

    Open Roads: New Italian Cinema is co-presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Istituto Luce Cinecittà. Organized by Dennis Lim and Dan Sullivan, Film Society; and by Carla Cattani, Griselda Guerrasio, and Monique Catalino, Istituto Luce Cinecittà. With special acknowledgments to: Italian Trade Commission; Italian Cultural Institute New York; Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò NYU; and Antonio Monda.

    Films & Descriptions

    Indivisible / Indivisibili
    Edoardo De Angelis, Italy, 2016, 104m
    Italian with English subtitles
    New York Premiere
    Thursday, June 1, 1:45pm & 6:30pm

    At first glance, identical twins Dasy and Violet (newcomers Angela and Marianna Fontana, in powerful debut performances) appear to have it all: they're beautiful, gifted with captivating singing voices, and they do not want for gigs around Naples. They also happen to be conjoined at the hip, which is shamelessly exploited by their parents and close friends for money. But on the cusp of their 18th birthday, Dasy falls in love and pursues a new life after learning she can be separated from Violet. Balancing the beautiful and the perverse with poise, and featuring a beguiling soundtrack by renowned singer-songwriter Enzo Avitabile, Edoardo De Angelis's third feature is a moving, eccentric fable about the pains of growing up, and the lengths to which one may go in order to fulfill a dream. 

    At War with Love / In Guerra per amore
    Pierfrancesco Diliberto, Italy, 2016, 99m
    Italian with English subtitles
    North American Premiere
    Saturday, June 3, 9:15pm, Tuesday, June 6, 2:30pm

    The latest by Pierfrancesco Diliberto (a.k.a. Pif, Italy's renowned TV host and political comedian) is a tender comedy set against the backdrop of World War II. Sicilian emigrant Arturo (Pif) is in love with Flora (Miriam Leone), but she's betrothed to the son of a New York mafia boss. Arturo's only option is to ask Flora's father for her hand; however, he still lives in Sicily. Penniless but determined, Arturo takes a "free" passage to Italy by enlisting in the U.S. military at the start of the Allied invasion. Mixing history with outrageous comedy and political satire, At War with Love is like Forrest Gump by way of Mel Brooks—equal parts funny, charming, and irreverent. 

    Children of the Night / I Figli della notte
    Andrea De Sica, Italy/Belgium, 2016, 85m
    Italian with English subtitles
    North American Premiere 
    Sunday, June 4, 4:00pm, Wednesday, June 7, 4:30pm

    Introverted 17-year-old Giulio (Vincenzo Crea) is sent to an elite boarding school in the Alps. Contact to the outside world is limited, and the students—all troubled, some territorial and violent—are constantly surveilled by the administration (which includes an unctuous Fabrizio Rongione). Giulio forms an unlikely bond with the most sullen and rebellious student, Edoardo (Ludovico Succio), with whom he routinely sneaks off to a lascivious nightclub in the forest—but their nighttime excursions don't go undetected, nor are they as transgressive as initially thought. A twisted coming-of-age story tinged with elements of horror, Andrea De Sica's feature debut is a tightly wound narrative that defies convention.  

    The Confessions / Le Confessioni
    Roberto Andò, Italy/France, 2016, 104m
    Italian, English, and French with English subtitles
    New York Premiere
    Thursday, June 1, 4:00pm & 9:00pm

    Roberto Andò reteams with Toni Servillo in this Hitchcockian mystery-thriller, a spiritual sequel to Andò's Long Live Freedom (a 2014 Open Roads selection). During a G8 summit in a luxurious German hotel, a trio of outsiders—a rock star (Johan Heldenbergh), a children's novelist (Connie Nielsen), and a laconic Italian monk (Servillo)—join the Group of Eight at the request of Daniel Roché (Daniel Auteuil), a powerful man with an obscure agenda. Things get even more mysterious when Roché is found dead following a clandestine meeting with the monk. Boasting a star-studded international cast and a perfect blend of suspense, international intrigue, and a subdued but biting sense of humor, The Confessions is a classically composed and wildly entertaining whodunit. 

    Deliver / Liberami
    Federica Di Giacomo, Italy, 2016, 90m
    Italian with English subtitles
    New York Premiere
    ​Sunday, June 4, 6:30pm

    Winner of the Orizzonti Prize at last year's Venice Film Festival, Deliver follows Father Cataldo, a Sicilian priest sought out by Catholics who believe themselves to be possessed. In between capturing the religious rites he performs on his clients—by turns frightening, profane, and absurd—Di Giacomo's documentary peers into the private lives of the afflicted: everyday people drawn to the church out of desperation who discuss their demonic interactions as though they were mere medical conditions. Avoiding cliché and easy sentimentality, Deliver offers a fresh perspective on the psychology underlying the continued practice of exorcism in the modern world. 

    Ears / Orecchie
    Alessandro Aronadio, Italy, 2016, 90m
    Italian with English subtitles
    New York Premiere
    Friday, June 2, 3:45pm, Monday, June 5, 9:00pm

    A man wakes up with a painful ringing in his ear and to a note that reads, "Your friend Luigi is dead! I'm sorry. PS: I took the car..." But who's Luigi? This is just one of the many questions the unnamed protagonist (Daniele Parisi) must ask himself in this absurd tragicomedy by writer-director Alessandro Aronadio (One Life, Maybe Two, a 2010 Open Roads selection). Unfolding in a single day, Earsupsets a hapless man's routine with a series of hilarious, Kafkaesque situations involving meddlesome nuns, bumbling doctors, and a perplexing array of bureaucratic mishaps. Aronadio's black-and-white, aspect ratio­shifting second feature is a one-of-a-kind comedy that surprises and delights with unassuming humor and a quirky supporting cast.

    Claudio Giovannesi, Italy, 2016, 109m
    Italian with English subtitles
    New York Premiere
    ​Friday, June 2, 9:00pm, Monday, June 5, 6:45pm

    Stylishly blending social realism with a coming-of-age story, Claudio Giovannesi's third feature focuses on a blossoming romance in a juvenile detention center. Newcomer Daphne Scoccia stars as a tough but troubled young girl locked up after committing a robbery, and during her stint she meets Josh (Josciua Algeri), an inmate confined to the boy's ward in the neighboring building. Their prohibited interactions spiral into a forbidden yet innocent romance that provides an escape from their fraught personal problems. Fiore's measured treatment of troubled youth recalls the Dardenne brothers, but the film's assured visual style and breathless romance are entirely the invention of director Giovannesi. 

    Pawn Street / Le Ultime Cose
    Irene Dionisio, Italy/Switzerland/France, 2016, 85m
    Italian with English subtitles
    North American Premiere
    Sunday, June 4, 1:30pm

    Irene Dionisio's debut feature is a gripping moral drama that weaves together the plights of three people connected to a pawn shop in Turin. Stefano (Fabrizio Falco) is torn between doing the right thing and keeping his new job as a pawnbroker after catching his morally bankrupt manager (Roberto De Francesco) deceiving customers, one of whom is Sandra (Christina Rosamilia), a transgender woman at odds with her past. Outside the pawn shop, Michele (Alfonso Santagata), a kindhearted family man, gets in too deep with some deceitful street hagglers who illegally buy up receipts from the shop's customers. Lensed by César-winning DP Caroline Champetier (Holy MotorsI Can No Longer Hear the Guitar), Pawn Street tackles complex themes of shame and redemption with naked emotion and vivid realism. 

    Sun, Heart, Love / Sole, Cuore, Amore
    Daniele Vicari, Italy, 2016, 109m
    Italian with English subtitles
    North American Premiere
    Saturday, June 3, 6:30pm, Wednesday, June 7, 2:00pm

    In this tragic ode to urban living from writer-director Daniele Vicari, Eli (Isabella Ragonese) puts herself through a crushing daily grind—a two-hour commute from the outskirts of Rome that's slowly taking a toll on her health—in order to support her unemployed, loving husband and their children. Meanwhile her lifelong best friend Vale (Eva Grieco in her debut role), a dancer living on her own, is faced with her own struggles after taking in a coworker who was beaten by her boyfriend. Beautifully blending melancholy with quiet joy, Vicari's latest is a sorrowful, sensitively observed study of straphangers caught up in life's unrelenting demands. 

    Sweet Dreams / Fai bei sogni
    Marco Bellocchio, Italy/France, 2016, 134m
    Italian and French with English subtitles
    New York Premiere
    Sunday, June 4, 9:00pm, Tuesday, June 6, 8:45pm

    The latest from Marco Bellocchio is this delicate, melancholic, and deeply moving adaptation of Massimo Gramellini's popular autobiographical novel Sweet Dreams, Little One. Tracing a middle-aged man (Valerio Mastandrea) as he still struggles to come to grips with the sudden loss of his mother when he was nine years old, Sweet Dreams alternates between past and present, memories and dreams, effortlessly weaving together disparate elements of Massimo's life to yield a profound, poetic study of loss and maternal love. Gracefully photographed by frequent DP Daniele Ciprì (VincereDormant Beauty), this is Bellocchio at his most emotional, but his signature sense of humor and irony are as strong as ever. 

    Tenderness / La Tenerezza
    Gianni Amelio, Italy, 2017, 103m
    Italian with English subtitles
    North American Premiere
    Friday, June 2, 6:30pm, Monday, June 5, 4:30pm

    The latest by Lamerica director Gianni Amelio explores loneliness, heartbreak, and complicated family relations in modern-day Naples. Renato Carpentieri stars as Lorenzo, an elderly widower estranged from his children who gradually builds a friendship with the new family next door—until a catastrophe pulls them apart. Loosely based on Lorenzo Moreno's Premio Strega prize­winning novel, The Temptation to Be HappyTenderness is a powerfully acted character study as well as an evocative portrait of middle-class Naples, beautifully filmed by Luca Bigazzi (The Great Beauty). 

    Two Soldiers / Due Soldati
    Marco Tullio Giordana, Italy, 2017, 100m
    Italian with English subtitles
    North American Premiere
    Friday, June 2, 1:30pm, Tuesday, June 6, 6:30pm

    A grieving woman unexpectedly comes face to face with Naples' violent Camorra in what could be considered the third installment of Marco Tullio Giordana's organized crime cycle—including his Golden Globe-nominated One Hundred Steps and 2015's Lea. Rising star Angela Fontana (one of the leads in Indivisible, this year's opening night film) plays Maria, a young woman planning her marriage to a soldier stationed in Afghanistan (Dario Rea), until his life is tragically cut short. After being left alone in their new, empty apartment, she crosses paths with Salvatore (Daniele Vicorito), a member of the Mafia who hides out in her condominium after a botched hit job. Giordana's latest is a complex exploration of grief and redemption that evocatively captures the rippling consequences of war. 

    The War of the Yokels / La Guerra dei cafoni
    Davide Barletti & Lorenzo Conte, Italy, 2016, 98m
    Italian with English subtitles
    North American Premiere
    Sunday, June 4, 1:30pm, Tuesday, June 6, 4:30pm

    With an eclectic ensemble cast made up almost entirely of children, Davide Barletti and Lorenzo Conte's fable about a war between the ruling elite and lower classes, based on the novel by Carlo D'Amicis, plays like a cross between Lord of the Flies and The Goonies. No one really knows why the centuries-old war exists, but after the "yokels" of the underclass carry out a series of disruptive invasions, and bring in a ruthless outsider, things start to escalate violently. Meanwhile, the pitiless leader of the ruling class falls in love with a yokel and begins to question his role in the needless war. Set in the 1970s off the sunbaked coast of Puglia, beautifully photographed by Duccio CimattiThe War of the Yokels is a rambunctious mixture of social satire, perilous adventure, and low-key fantasy, with energetic performances by its cast of young actors.

    Worldly Girl / La Ragazza del Mondo
    Marco Danieli, Italy/France, 2016, 101m
    Italian with English subtitles
    North American Premiere
    Sunday, June 4, 4:00pm

    In Marco Danieli's debut feature, Sara Serraiocco (Salvo) stars as Giulia, a smart young Jehovah's Witness whose lifestyle is put to the test when she meets Libero (Michele Riondino), an ex-con and son of a recent convert. As much as Giulia wants to pursue a future in mathematics (which goes against her religion), it's her unexpected attachment to Libero that pulls her from her community. Sensitively portraying the religious community, Danieli's first feature is an assured, wonderfully acted, and unpredictable celebration of individuality. Worldly Girl premiered at last year's Venice Film Festival, where Danieli won the Brian Award (given by the Italian Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics) and stars Serraiocco and Riondino both won Pasinetti Awards for their performances.