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(re)constructing identities through civic engagement

The Diversitalia Film Festival will explore the reconstruction of the Italian identity, both in Italy and abroad, through creative use of cinema, documentary film, and television. Through their work, Italian director Pierfrancesco Diliberto and Italian Ghanian filmmaker Fred Kudjo Kuwornu offer unique perspectives on modern Italian society, both its relationship to a growing multi-ethnic population and the powerful yearning of younger Sicilians for a mafia-free society. From a cross-cultural perspective, the festival will analyze issues related to diversity in Europe and North America, reflecting specifically on the role of mass media in creating and enforcing the stereotype of the mafia as an inherent feature of Italian and Italian American culture.  The festival will include five public movie screenings followed by panel discussions at Grafton-Stovall Theatre and several side-events open to students and the local community.

Pierfrancesco Diliberto (aka PIF), 45-year old TV host, director, screenwriter, and actor, has been fighting at the frontline of the anti-mafia movement and has contributed to the awakening of the younger generations. PIF takes advantage of the communicative power of TV and cinema to destroy, through his satirical approach, the sense of belonging to the mafia culture of his fellow Sicilian citizens. PIF has used his popularity as a form of civic engagement, by participating in talks and debates in educational and institutional settings. Pif’s debut as director, The Mafia Kills Only in Summer (2013), is a black comedy picture portraying twenty years of Mafia wars in Sicily as witnessed by the young fictional character of Arturo. His new film, At War with Love (2016), is a tender love story set against the backdrop of the allied conquer of Sicily during WWII, which examines how the relations between the Allies and the Mafia shaped the fate of Sicily in years to come.

Fred Kudjo Kuwornu is a 46-year old Italian-Ghanian filmmaker, producer, and activist. In his work, he has explored diversity in modern Italian society, especially focusing on the multiethnic composition of society, its representation in the media, and its recognition by law-makers. After his experience working with the production crew of Spike Lee’s Miracle at St. Anna in Italy, Fred decided to research the unknown story of the 92nd Infantry ‘Buffalo Soldiers’ Division, which led him to produce and direct the award-winning documentary Inside Buffalo (2010). In 2012, he released 18 IUS SOLI, which examines multiculturalism in Italy and the question of citizenship for the one million children of immigrants born and raised in Italy who are not yet Italian citizens. In his latest film project, Blaxploitalian: 100 Hundred Years of Blackness in Italian Cinema (2016), Kuwornu has examined diversity in Italian media. He is the founder of the non-profit organization Association Diversity Italia, which promotes racial and ethnic diversity in film as a tool for building a more inclusive society.


All movies shown in Italian w/English Subtitles at Grafton Stovall Theatre, JMU. Admission is free.

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 29, 5:30 pm

The Mafia Kills Only in Summer tells the story of young Arturo and his struggles to win the heart of his middle school classmate Flora. Seen through the eyes of Arturo, the story spans 20 years of history of Sicily from 1970s to 1990s. Pif uses Arturo’s unrequited love story as the vehicle to narrate the most tragic events in Italy’s recent history, starting with the Cosa Nostra’s criminal actions in Sicily in the ‘70s and culminating in the barbaric murder of judges Falcone and Borsellino in the early ‘90s. This portrait of the Italian Mafia mocks its bosses and shines a light on the humanity of the heroes who gave their lives to bring organized crime to justice. As noted by The New York Times, “the flesh of the story is fiction, but its bones are real. Cleverly folded-in archival footage underscores a time when the wholesale murder of prominent figures forced the Cosa Nostra into the light. A sequence at the end honoring well-known anti-Mafia crusaders left many Italians soggily nostalgic.”

Italy, 90 min., Comedy/Drama

Director: Pierfrancesco Diliberto (Pif)


MONDAY, OCTOBER 30, 7:00 pm

Set in July '43 when Allied forces landed in Sicily, At War with Love tells the story of Arthur and Flora, who are in love, but are not allowed to marry, because her uncle betrothed her to the son of a well-known New York boss. To prevent it, Arthur has to enlist in the army and return to Sicily to obtain the blessing of Flora’s father, who lives in a small village on the island. When he arrives in Sicily, Arthur goes from being solely focused on finding Flora’s father to becoming aware of the fact that the US Army is conquering and governing the island, thanks to a secret pact with the Sicilian mafia. This agreement permits an almost nonviolent occupation of the region, but also gives important positions in government to local mafia bosses. When Arthur understands the situation, he has to choose between his love for Flora and the difficult mission of fighting the mafia.

Italy, 99 min., Comedy/Drama

Director: Pierfrancesco Diliberto (Pif)


MONDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 4:30 pm

The documentary Inside Buffalo tells the story of the forgotten ‘Buffalo Soldiers’, the African American foot soldiers of the 92nd Infantry Division, a segregated combat unit who valiantly fought side-by-side with Italian partisans against the Nazis along the Gothic Line. In 2008, Spike Lee was shooting the feature film Miracle at St. Anna, based on a novel about black American soldiers, on location in Tuscany. Fred Kuwornu appeared as an extra on the feature film and this experience was the starting point for a very personal voyage of discovery culminating in this documentary Inside Buffalo.

Italy, 59 min., Documentary

Director: Fred Kuwornu



The documentary 18 IUS SOLI: The Right to Be Italian follows 18 stories of girls and boys born and raised in Italy by immigrant parents who were originally from Africa, Asia, and South America. These children, amounting to 800,000 individuals, go to Italian schools, speak Italian, and may have never even been to the countries where their parents came from. Yet they are not recognized as Italian citizens. To obtain the Italian citizenship, they have to go through a lengthy and complicated application process and can only do so after they have turned 18 years old – a process that doesn’t always end positively for the applicant, resulting in serious and unavoidable problems of social inclusion and identity.

Italy, 53 min., Documentary

Director: Fred Kuwornu


MONDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 7:00 pm

Blaxploitalian: 100 Years of Blackness in Italian Cinema is a diasporic, critical documentary that uncovers the careers of Black actors in Italian cinema since 1915 and sheds a light on a population of entertainers seldom heard of before. Blaxploitalian cleverly discloses the personal struggles these actors have faced in finding respectable and significant roles in cinema. The documentary serves as a call to action and challenges mainstream filmmakers and audiences worldwide towards greater diversity in casting of lead roles within the international film industry.

Italy, 65 min., Documentary

Director: Fred Kuwornu



Excerpts from Fred Kuwornu’s latest project 

Tuesday, December 5, 6:30-8:30 pm

Miller Hall 1101


Screening of HUM 251 Final projects

Thursday, December 7, 7:00-8:30 pm

Miller Hall 1101

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