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Ischia Film Festival 2021

Bringing the Silver Screen to Ischia

“My father used to tell me that movies are the only window you have to escape from this island,” shares Michelangelo Messina, founder and creative director of Ischia Film Festival.  Location drives passion and his passion led him to create a unique film festival that shows identity through territory and setting. Born and raised on Ischia, Michelangelo, like all kids, loved the movies and they were his escape from everyday life. Never did he think he’d turn his passion into a world recognized film event in his hometown.  

Michelangelo Messina – Photo courtesy of Ischia Film Festival

“I am not a critic, a journalist, I am a tecnico”

Michelangelo Messina

From Ischia, Messina moved to New York to work in film but the allure of the island brought him back to Ischia while his background as a location manager and cinephile – he’s worked on numerous films in Ischia and around Italy, notably The Talented Mr. Ripley – has given him behind the scenes expertise on the magic of movie making. Since 2003, Messina has been hosting the Ischia Film Festival, a week-long event specifically dedicated to movie locations, and held at the spectacular and silver-screen worthy Castello Aragonese.  

Ischia Film Festival 2021

There is nothing quite like the Ischia Film Festival. Staged the last week of June – this year from June 26 to July 3 – the Festival is all about location in its line up and its physical space. Taking place in Ischia’s fortuitous summer season – envision warm breezes, salty air and gorgeous cristalline water, the Ischia Film Festival is held at the Castello Aragonese, a jaw-droppoing medieval outpost in Ischia Ponte. The ancient castle is backdrop to five stages (this year there are three), hosting over 100 films from across the globe for seven days. Guests walk through history for nightly double projections. Each film is introduced by the author, director, art director, actor, et cetra for a dynamic evening of conversation and discussion, such as John Turturro, Alan Starski, Abel Ferrara, Claudia Cardinale, Pupi Avati, Peter Greenaway and more. 

Let’s talk about territory

 “This film festival is different from others. Our purpose is to let the audience know how important the location is in a film and so our selections tell the different cultural identity through territory,” tells Messina. The festival is an open competition – regardless of language for areas fiction, documentary, animation, with a focus on location and on the enhancement of the cultural and landscape identity of the territories chosen for the filming.

Throughout the year, Messina and jury cull through submissions for four categories – full length, short films, documentaries and “denied” locations, perhaps Messina’s favourite category focusing on films whose locations have been destroyed or lost  identity through war, human intervention, natural disaster, et cetera.

“The main theme must describe the particularity of a territory and its culture. It’s a sort of mission that we have – to understand better other’s culture as well as our own.”

Behind the scenes, the Ischia Film Festival also brings up the economics of tourism by discussing how the movie industry contributes to territory tourism in a series of conversations “Parliamo del Cinema”. With that in mind, this year the festival teamed up with Ischia is More. Michele Sambaldi, President of Ischia Is More, adds “We are delighted to be working with Ischia Film Festival to celebrate the rich history and legacy that the island has given to the film industry. And we are thrilled that the island is ready to welcome guests after a difficult period for the tourism market. “

Ask yourself – what movie has inspired you to travel?   

Indeliable Ischia and the Talented Mr. Ripley

Ischia has left an indelible image in our minds, thanks to incredible films such as Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s Cleopatra and the 2018 Netflix series My Brilliant Friend. But nothing beats Anthony Minghella’s adaptation of The Talented Mr Ripley which catapulted Ischia from background to main character. As the fictitious resort Mongibello, Ischia was the quiet yet beautiful protagonist to the unforgettable sheninagans of Dickie (Jude Law), Tom (Matt Damon) and Marge (Gwyneth Paltrow). 

Set in the 1950s, The Talented Mr. Ripley encapsulated an era of Italy that was pure wanderlust inspiration with Ischia’s colourful towns and crystalline water. Nothing captured the dolce vita vibe more than the trio’s outings on the sailboat Bird. The stunning sloop is actually The Santander of Wight, a gorgeous 42ft (13m) Philip Rhodes-designed 42ft (13m) sailboat which will set return to Ischia for the first time in ten years, where it will be exclusively available at the Mezzatorre before it finding its way up the Italian coast to the iconic Hotel Il Pellicano. Decked out in curated ISSIMO style, The Santander of Wight will be available to rent at the Mezzatorre from June 20th to July 9th and at Il Pellicano from July 10th to July 25th 2021. 

Behind the scenes of The Talented of Mr Ripley

Sailing like Ripley with Pellicano Hotels

Take a tip from Dickie Greenleaf and enjoy languid days in the ocean sway, basque in a sun- drenched playground of Il Pellicano, where work and responsibilities melt away faster than a gelato, and truly live la dolce vita

This 19th edition of the Ischia Film Festival is on from 26 June to 3 July. With the newly announced Covid-free Ischia and a week dedicated to incredible film locations, this is the perfect opportunity for film-buffs to ‘sail’ in the footsteps of film stars and discover the stunning Gulf of Naples and Argentario coasts in total privacy, comfort and glamour.

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