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Film and culture festival offers combination of movies, cuisine

Italian culture has a rich history in New Mexico.

And there continues to be education, thanks to the New Mexico Italian Film & Culture Festival.

Since 2007, the festival has screened films, all while raising money for the University of New Mexico Children’s Hospital.

Since its inception, the festival has raised more than $230,000 for the hospital.

“This is a very important event for us,” says Maria Berry, managing director of the festival. “This is our biggest event for nonprofit Italian Festivals of New Mexico.”

On Monday, Feb. 15, and Tuesday, Feb. 16, Italian culture in New Mexico will be the center of attention from an Italian government delegation from Los Angeles whose Italian Consulate oversees New Mexico.

The delegation, led by Consul General Antonio Verde, will include Florindo Blandino, director of the Italian Trade Commission, and Valeria Rumori, director of the Italian Cultural Institute.

The purpose of their mission is to strengthen bonds of friendship and cooperation between Italy and New Mexico in trade, culture and tourism. While here, they will meet with state and city officials in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, as well as with representatives of Italian organizations whose focus is the promotion of Italian culture.

Berry says the delegation will be hosted at the Osteria d’Assisi, 58 S. Federal Place, Santa Fe, by New Mexico Honorary Consul Cavaliere Lino Pertusini at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 15. The public can purchase a reception ticket for $39.50. The event will be attended by Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales and other Santa Fe city officials.

At 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16, the delegation will be honored guests of Rosalba Maniaci, New Mexico consular agent, and Italian Festivals of New Mexico at the opening Kickoff Reception of the 2016 New Mexico Italian Film & Culture Festival. The kickoff will be at Scalo Northern Italian Grill, 3500 E. Central, and tickets are $25 per person, which includes the opening night film, “Remember Me.” The films are in Italian with English subtitles.

“I’m looking forward with pleasure to meeting and talking in person with the Italian community of Albuquerque,” says Italian Trade Commission Director Florindo Blandino in a note to the festival’s managing director.

“It’s an honor to have the presence and recognition of these distinguished officials for the Italian Festival’s opening celebration,” says John Paolino, Board President of Italian Festivals of New Mexico. “IFNM is our state’s premier vehicle for raising awareness of Italian culture. We’ve worked diligently to do that over the past few years, and we’ve made great progress. Our NM Italian Film & Culture Festival is the largest, longest-running Italian event in the state. We’re eager to share our passion for Italian culture with the Los Angeles delegation and deepen the synergy between us.”

Berry says that each year the organizers try to add something new to the festival.

“We try to pick great films and surround them with great events,” she says. “The festival always takes a different path. I think that’s what makes our festival so popular.

There’s no template in how it’s done.”