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2013: The Ideal City (La città ideale)


Saturday, November 16, 2013

6 p.m. Reception
7 p.m. Film Screening
8:45 p.m. A Conversation: Actor Luigi Maria Burruano with Michael Whalen, Knight-Ridder/San Jose Mercury News Endowed Professor and Valerio Ferme, Visiting Scholar and Guest Host

Santa Clara University
Recital Hall - Music & Dance Building


Co-sponsored by the County of Santa Clara/Province of Florence, Italy Sister City Commission, the Department of Modern Languages & Literatures, scu·presents and the New Italian Cinema Events (N.I.C.E.) Florence, Italy.


About the movie

Architect Michele is a bit obsessive—he is so concerned with being ecologically conscious that he alienates many coworkers. When he borrows a friend’s car, driving for the first time in eight years, he has an accident that upends his orderly life. The ramifications of this mishap along with the deleterious effects of his own character quirks will transform, for him, his beloved city of Siena into a maze of bureaucracy where people lack concern for the truth. Actor Luigi Lo Cascio’s (The Best of Youth) directorial debut is a wonderfully unclassifiable work, rich with philosophical ideas and punctuated by the increasing precariousness of Michele’s situation.

Lo Cascio stars as the talented architect and fervent environmentalist Michele who has moved from Palermo to his ideal city, Siena. He holds a successful job and is living out a dream experiment of functioning one year without running water or electricity. Not surprisingly, he also displays a passionate opposition to cars and driving. One evening, after being forced to borrow his boss’ car in order to collect a colleague for a work function, Michele’s life takes an unexpected turn.

In the blinding rain Michele hits something he cannot identify. After leaving a note on a parked car he believes he damaged, he continues down the road only to come across a dead body a few miles down which he later discovers belongs to one of Siena’s most important luminaries. Michele immediately calls the police, but in doing so, he unwittingly brings intense suspicion on himself as his uncertainty raises more questions than he has answers for.

This stylish European thriller screened as part of the Venice Film Festival Critics Week in 2012. Lo Cascio, who also appears in this year’s festival film Salvo, is remarkable in his portrayal of a man whose honesty is his own undoing in a situation where nothing is quite what it seems.

Italian with English subtitles.