NM Italian Film Festival invites public to ‘become part of the family’

Oscar winning film “Il Capitale Umano” (Human Capital) is one of the showcase films at the New Mexico Italian Film & Culture Festival.

SANTA FE, N.M. — Italian Americans and New Mexico have had a symbiotic relationship since the turn of the 20th century.

Though the relationship is stronger than ever, one aspect that always went under the radar was Italian films.

This is where the New Mexico Italian Film & Culture Festival steps in to fill the void.

“This event gives the public a chance to become part of the family,” says Maria Berry, managing director. “We’ve been working on making it an all-around festival where people can also get educated.”

Berry says working on the festival takes an entire year.

“There’s barely a breather,” she says. “Once one is done, you begin to work on the next one to ensure that the venues are available.”

This year’s festival will feature a relationship with Santa Fe and Albuquerque.

Santa Fe’s event begin on Thursday, Feb. 5 and runs through Saturday, Feb. 7. Berry says it will feature the films “Happy Family,” “Salvo” and “Bianca Come il Latte, Rosa Come il Sangue” at the Jean Cocteau Cinema.

“Santa Fe wanted to participate more this year,” she says. “Last year, they only hosted one day and it was a success.”

As the festival ends in Santa Fe, Albuquerque’s begins on Feb. 8 and runs through Feb. 15.

Berry says about a half dozen films will be screened and most of them take place at The Guild.

Two of the showcase films are “Che Strano Chiamarsi Federico” and “Il Capitale Umano.” The latter is an Academy Award-winning film.

“The committee works really hard to secure all of these films,” she says. “(Committee member) Dan Puccetti has figured out the way to get to the distributors to get the films. There are times we get the films for free or at a discounted price.”

Berry became the managing director in 2012 and the festival didn’t happen in 2013. During that time, she and the crew spent the year brainstorming on how to make the festival the best it could be.

Some of the proceeds from the festival go to the UNM Children’s Hospital.

“The hospital expects this money which is why I push myself to create the best festival that we can,” she says. “It’s important for the community and it gives us a chance to educate the public.”