POETIC: A scene from The Ark of Disperata at the Italian Film Focus.
Italian film lovers are in for a treat as the Italian Film Focus once again returns to the Labia Theatre.

From tomorrow until Sunday, this smorgasbord of diverse movies offers the best of recent Italian cinema.

Already featured in many major international festivals worldwide, the films offer a diverse selection of genres. Many of the narratives will find resonance with a broad audience appeal.

There are comedies narrated with careful psychological realism, as in the touching relationship between the old poet and the problematic and young “caregiver” in Friends by Chance, directed by Francesco Bruni.

The unpredictable and perfectly orchestrated Ugly Nasty People by Cosimo Gomez is reminiscent of the style of the legendary director Ettore Scola. Director Gomez and actress Rosa Canova will be at the festival to discuss the film.

Fresh from its success in Venice, the musical Love and Bullets by the Mainetti brothers is explosive in what it portrays and its highly energetic presentation.

Stories about contemporary Italy and its social conflicts are expressively portrayed by the character of the priest in Equilibrium by Vincenzo Marra, and by the character of a mayor and an inmate - figures vastly unlike, but nevertheless united by poetry, as they face off in The Ark of Disperata by Edoardo Winspeare.

The burning issue of migrants and their stories can be viewed in The Order of Things by Andrea Segre. Sensitively portraying the complex relationship between different cultures, between duty and conscience and between north and south, it presents the human side to this ongoing tragedy of displaced people - the people’s stories, aspirations, personal and collective challenges. While the film remains apolitical, it urges a confrontation of a different sort in the realm of a civil debate.

Two animation films will also be screened: The Art of Happiness, directed by Alessandro Rak, winner of the European Film Awards 2014: Best European Animated Feature; and Gatta Cenerentola, also by Rak, along with Dario Sansone, Ivan Cappiello and Marino Guarnieri. This creative team views animation not as only entertainment for children but as cinema for all ages: a universal and constantly renewed language.

Along with the films, Italian animation film-makers will be in conversation with local film-makers - discussing the industry’s needs, challenges and future projects.

Five films have already been made since the signing of a co-production agreement between Italy and South Africa in 2006, and another is in the production stage.

The discussion panel this year has been organised in collaboration with Westgro and the Animation Film Festival in Cape Town.

Also taking place will be educational discussions and screenings at Cape Town film schools AFDA, Big Fish and City Varsity, which has seen younger audiences grow.

The Italian Film Focus takes place from today until Sunday, at Cinema Labia on Orange, 68 Orange Street Gardens. Admission is R20 a person.

* Visit www.italianfilmfocus.co.za www.facebook.com/italianfilmfocus, www.filmitalia.org