Cinema in Italy

History and programming

Italy has one of the healthiest film industries in Europe and has produced many great film directors, including Bernado Bertolucci, Federico Fellini, Vittorio Gassman, Sergio Leone and Luchino Visconti, as well as actors and actresses such as Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida and Marcello Mastroianni.

For many years, Rome’s Cinecittà was the leading film production centre in Europe, producing Italian classics such as Fellini’s La Dolce Vita as well as many international productions.

Today, the film studios and Italian cinema in general are facing difficult times, in common with those in most other European countries. However, Italy retains a small film industry that’s widely respected throughout the world, with many young and promising directors, such as Benigni, Pieraccioni and Troisi.

Italians are keen filmgoers and almost every large town and city has several cinemas, many with multi-screens. Most foreign-language films are dubbed into Italian and it’s difficult to find screenings of foreign films in their original language; in the major cities there’s usually at least one cinema showing foreign-language films without subtitles, although the film may be shown on one day per week only (exceptions include the Pasquino cinema in Rome and the Astro in Florence, which show English-language films daily).

There are regular film shows at foreign cultural centres, where films are shown in their original language.

Cinema tickets usually cost around €7, although prices are reduced on Wednesdays and increased at weekends and on public holidays. Check local newspapers for details of programmes and performance times.

There’s no formal film classification system, but the words vietato ai minori di 14 anni (‘children under 14 not admitted’) indicate that a film has violent or sexually explicit content.

The Venice Film Festival in August/September is the world’s oldest film festival (established in 1932) and its prestigious prizes are highly rated in the international film world, particularly the Venetian Golden Lion award for best film, which is one of the industry’s highest accolades. Tickets, however, are difficult or impossible to come by.

This article is an extract from Living and Working in Italy. Click here to get a copy now.

Further reading

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