by Melinda Gallo

Movies about Italian life

Last month, American film distribution company Focus Features contacted me to see if I’d be interested in contributing to their website by writing about five movies that depict life in Italy. With their upcoming movie “The American” set in Umbria, they asked a few American expat bloggers about Italian life. I was honored to have been asked, and jumped at the opportunity.

Besides reading books about Italy, I do love seeing movies that take place in Italy. I enjoy finding out more about this complex country that I live in. There are similarities, but also many differences and nuances. I love that I can’t put my finger on it because it means that I will never be bored living here. I know that I don’t need to figure out Italy or Italians; I just enjoy them for who they are.

The first thing I did was write down all my favorite movies set in Italy, which was a list of about twelve. I rented them all and watched each one of them. Many of my favorites didn’t make the cut because they didn’t represent life in Italy the way I saw it.

I then asked a few Florentine friends of mine about other movies I could watch, and discovered a few new films. I watched them too, but a few of them didn’t fit the bill.

My final list was published yesterday in the “Five in Focus” area of the website. My selection of films shows what I find most compelling about life in Italy: sincerity. Not just the sincerity one shows another, but also the sincerity one must have for oneself. Since I’ve come to live in Italy, I have felt inspired to be more honest with myself. Not just in who I am, but also what I like and dislike, what works for me, and what doesn’t. I realize that I too am complex like my home country and can’t be easily placed into a box.

I am grateful to Focus Features for the opportunity to contribute to their site. I enjoyed participating and reading what the other American expats suggested too. I’m also eager to see their film "The American" when it comes out next month. It'll be interesting to see how George Clooney's character tries to fit in with the locals after moving to Umbria.

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