The Lavazza Italian Film Festival was founded in 2000 by Antonio Zeccola who, in one of Australia’s many migrant success stories, built Australia’s only national boutique cinema network which now encompasses more than one hundred screens nationally.
Twenty years ago, Antonio realised that Australia had other film festivals, but nothing dedicated to Italian cinema, and an idea was born. In November 2000 in Sydney and Melbourne, the first edition presented eleven features, five retrospective titles and five shorts, including Opening Night selection Bread and Tulips (Pane e Tulipani) by Silvio Soldini and One Hundred Steps (I cento passi) directed by Marco Tullio Giordana. The event was a resounding success.
Spurred by audience demand, the second Italian Film Festival expanded nationally in 2001 to Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane, with the Opening Night selection Malena starring Monica Bellucci, the Centrepiece The Son’s Room (La stanza del figlio) directed by Nanni Moretti and Closing Night Selection The Last Kiss (L’ultimo bacio) directed by Gabriele Muccino. Since then the festival has grown in popularity to the point where it is now the biggest public celebration of Italian cinema outside Italy.
The event has partnered with many organisations and cultural partners over the years, however the most longstanding relationship has been with LAVAZZA who have now been the Festival’s principal sponsor for the last sixteen years.
Organised entirely by Palace, a 100% Australian-owned independent family business, the festival continues to present the best new contemporary Italian cinema and most cherished classics on the big screen. For almost two decades the Festival has celebrated Italian language, culture and la dolce vita with an ever-growing audience, last year attracting over 84,000 people nationally.
Viva il cinema!