Some of the year’s most popular and critically-acclaimed contemporary Italian films are scheduled to be showcased at the festival “Cinema Italian Style: New Films from Italy,” with screenings at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica.

The second annual Cinema Italian Style film festival has screenings scheduled Friday, October 7th, through Thursday, October 13th, at the Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica. It also has screenings scheduled at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.

None of the films scheduled to be screened at this year’s festival have yet appeared in the U.S., according to Maria LaMagra, a festival spokeswoman.

All films will be presented in Italian with English subtitles.

Tickets are $9 for general admission, $7 for student/senior and $6 for American Cinematheque members. A series pass good for ten general admissions at the Egyptian and/or Aero Theatres may be purchased for $80.

Information, www.cinemaital ianstyle.org or (310) 205-4858.

Cinema Italian Style is presented by American Cinematheque and Cinecitta Holding-Rome, in association with A.I.P. FilmItalia, the Italian Film Commission and the Italian Ministry of Culture.

The film festival will open at 7:30 p.m. October 6th at the Egyptian Theatre with the screening of director Giovanni Veronesi’s bittersweet comedy Manual of Love, the biggest Italian box office hit of the year.

The screenings at the Aero Theatre will begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday, October 7th, with director Gabriele Salvatores’ Quo Vadis, Baby?

The festival will close October 16th at the Egyptian with the Los Angeles premiere of director Pupi Avati’s So When Are the Girls Coming?, a jazz-themed portrait of the friendship between three “Gen X” Italian youths.

Last year’s festival was held in June with screenings only at the Egyptian Theatre, but this year, festival organizers decided to add the Aero Theatre as a screening location to “cover as much of the L.A. filmgoing public as we could,” said LaMagra.

According to festival organizers, contemporary Italian cinema remains among the most vibrant and unpredictable anywhere in Europe, by examining and celebrating an Italy both ancient and modern, pastoral and urban.

The festival provides an opportunity to showcase the importance of Italian cinema culture to American audiences, LaMagra said.

“It’s an opportunity to reintroduce ourselves to what makes this cinema so vibrant and entertaining,” she said.

Festival producer Silvia Bizio said there has traditionally been “a lot of love” for the classic Italian films, but not much international attention has been paid to contemporary Italian films over the past several years.

“With 11 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Picture, Italian cinema has influenced filmmakers all over the world,” says Bizio.

“That celebrated tradition is the legacy of a new generation of Italian writers, directors and actors whose work continues and adds to the vibrant tradition of Italian film.”

The films selected for this year’s festival are some of the most provocative and important films in current Italian cinema, Bizio said.

“This collection of films, being screened for the first time in Los Angeles, reflects today’s social, political and cultural values and realities,” Bizio said.

The films were also selected because of their marketing potential in the U.S., she said.

“The idea was for cultural exchange but also distribution exchange,” Bizio said.

The festival features recent films from acclaimed directors including Cristina Comencini (Don’t Tell), Marco Tullio Giordana (Once You are Born), Ettore Scola, Sergio Amidei and Academy Award-winning director Gabriele Salvatores (Quo Vadis, Baby?).

Filmmakers expected to attend the festival and participate in the screenings with question and answer presentations include Veronesi, Comencini, Roberto Faenza, Salvatores, Giuseppe Piccioni, Avati, Michelle Placido and Brando De Sica, grandson of legendary Italian film director Vittorio De Sica.

The festival will also feature several classics of Italian cinema, including Vittorio De Sica’s Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow, starring screen legends Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni, De Sica’s Shoeshine, and the Los Angeles premiere of Michelangelo Antonioni’s lost 1972 documentary on modern China, Chung Kuo-Cina.

“We’re hoping that this becomes an ongoing and annual event,” LaMagra said. “It’s a celebration of the best of Italian culture.”

For information about parking, purchasing tickets, box office hours and locations, www.americancinematheque.com

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