Special guest: Oscar-winning producer Arthur Cohn
The 1971 Academy Award-winning Foreign Language Film “The Garden of the Finzi-Continis” chronicles the gradual disintegration of the Jewish community living in Ferrara, Italy, at the beginning of World War II.
The film adaptation of Giorgio Bassani‘s 1962 semiautobiographical novel was one of acclaimed Italian director Vittorio De Sica’s final movies. Oblivious to the threats surrounding them, a wealthy Jewish family ignores the Fascism closing in on their community by remaining within the walls of their luxurious garden. Ultimately, the walled garden is no shelter from Mussolini’s anti-Semitic decrees and the horrors of the Holocaust, and the Finzi-Continis’ inaction and isolation contribute to their downfall.
The film is shot almost entirely in soft focus, creating a dreamlike quality, and De Sica purposefully never shows the actual dimensions of the garden. The music by Vittorio’s son, Manuel De Sica, takes the audience from romantic bliss to sheer tragedy.
De Sica directed another Academy Award winner for Foreign Language Film, “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” (1964), and two movies that earned Honorary Awards, “Shoe-Shine” (1947) and “The Bicycle Thief” (1949). He also directed this month’s Academy Tribute honoree, Sophia Loren, to her Oscar-winning performance in “Two Women” (1961).
Starring Dominique Sanda, Lino Capolicchio, Helmut Berger, Fabio Testi, Romolo Valli.
Directed by Vittorio De Sica. Produced by Gianni Hecht Lucari and Arthur Cohn. Screenplay by Ugo Pirro and Vittorio Bonicelli; based on the novel by Giorgio Bassani. A Gianni Hecht Lucari-Arthur Cohn Production; Cinema 5, Ltd. 1971. 94 minutes. Courtesy of Arthur Cohn. In Italian with English subtitles.
Academy Award winner: Foreign Language Film (Italy)
Academy Award nominee: Writing – Screenplay based on material from another medium (Pirro and Bonicelli)
Tickets are $5 for general admission, and $3 for Academy members and students with a valid ID.