All Roads Lead to Rome Premiere ft. Claudia Cardinale and Raoul Bova- NIFF Niagara Integrated Film Festival
Not many people can say without scrutiny or disbelief: John Wayne and Rita Hayworth were my mother and father, Henry Fonda and Jason Robards were my lovers and Klaus Kinski is totally crazy. However, when the award-winning actress is Claudia Cardinale, who graced the European and American movie screens for four decades, all speculation vanishes. This enchanting gala and movie premiere also with Italian actor, Raoul Bova, highlighted the Niagara Integrated Film Festival, giving it the up-close-and-personal star quality that larger film festivals possess.
The red carpet event looked like the top of a wedding cake, as Bova and Cardinale made their way to the front row for the screening of All Roads Lead To Rome, which received much admiration in the Italian cinema and Cannes International Film Festival earlier this year. The comedy-drama with commercial appeal also stars Sarah Jessica Parker from Sex and the City and was aptly presented with grandeur under a bright, starry night and adjacent to the vineyards of the Trius Winery and Estates in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
There were the customary speeches and congratulatory messages from dignitaries, but clearly, everyone was there to hear Bova and Cardinale express, albeit in broken English, their legendary experiences in the movie business. Now at 78, the raven-haired beauty has a lengthy and nearly unprecedented biography making the Question and Answer event challenging.
Like the trappings of a dream-come-true story, Cardinale was discovered, and she didn’t have any desire to act when she was. She first won a beauty contest in Tunisia just by attending the event. That’s right, she didn’t even enter the contest. Stunned by her beauty, she was selected by judges, which later led to her being cast in movies. One of her first movies was in a supporting role in the film Goha, starring the late great, Omar Sharif. After a trip to Venice, she was offered an opportunity to study acting in Italy, where she eventually became smitten with the cinema.
After filming several Italian movies, Ms. Cardinale was chosen to star in Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2, which became an international hit and a film lauded by critics, fans and studied by film students across the globe as a classic and masterpiece. Cardinale played Fellini’s muse, alongside Marcello Mastroianni. When asked what it was like to work with Fellini, Cardinale said: “It was all improvisation, no script.” But Fellini had a natural instinct for directing, shaping expressions and a style in black and white realism that made him successful with critics. “I’ve been lucky to work with amazing directors,” she said.
Taking his wild west show to Europe and rekindling his love with an old flame is the theme for Circus World starring John Wayne, Rita Hayworth, Lloyd Nolan and Richard Conte. This was also Cardinale’s first American movie, playing the daughter of John Wayne’s character, Matt Masters.
Cardinale recalls having to dub her voice into Italian, because she couldn’t speak it when Circus World was shot in 1963. “Fantastic,” is how she describes her character mom, Rita Hayworth, who does reunite with Matt, or better known as “The Duke,” at the end of this drama.
One of her first most memorable comedy achievements was in the original Pink Panther movie in 1963, where Cardinale shared scenes with Peter Sellers, who plays the bungling and awkward Inspector Clouseau. David Niven portrayed “the Phantom” thief, who steals the diamond with the flaw that looks like a pink panther on it. Cardinale said David Niven never stopped acting on set and was a joy to work with, but off set he was reserved and kept to himself. The original Blake Edwards film was so successful, a string of Pink Panther movies was produced nearly covering the following two decades. With a broad smile, Cardinale told the audience: “The best thing David Niven said to me was that I was the best invention since pasta.”
Then Cardinale was cast in another classic titled, Once Upon A Time in the West with famed director, Sergio Leone, which also became known as one of his best films. It starred Jason Robards and Charles Bronson. “They called it a spaghetti western – that’s not good,” she said facetiously. On the contrary, the film was a big hit in Europe and American critics appreciated the stark realism and grit from earlier westerns. Leone went on to become more successful producing loads of westerns with many stars, including Clint Eastwood. In another interview, Cardinale had said that Leone’s method of working with actors was unique, as he would have the music composed for the movie first, and make the cast listen to it before filming to set the mood. After shooting that film, Jason Robards became one of her best friends.
Cardinale has played in a wide variety of genres in her time, including the unique documentary starring Klaus Kinski, Burden of Dreams. The documentary was based on the intolerable conditions in shooting the movie, Fitzcarraldo, about an Irishman (Klaus Kinsky) who wants to construct an opera house in the middle of the Amazon jungle. Local natives and crew worked arduously under unbearably hot conditions. While the filmmaking process had its drawbacks, it was: “The best adventure of my life,” she said.
Although Cardinale was asked by Hollywood to stay in America to work, she always felt at home in Europe, where she returned. Many of her 168 films have been translated into other languages around the globe, and legions of fans recognize her as the quintessential actress, who loves to “live many lives.” She is apparently scheduled to do three more movies in the near future.
ALL ROADS LEAD TO…
So her latest movie, All Roads Lead to Rome is aptly and symbolically titled. The movie is two love stories intertwined, which occurs when Sarah Jessica Parker, as a liberal but tense school teacher, Maggie, and her teenage daughter, Summer return to Italy for a bonding vacation. Upon arriving at her old stomping ground, Maggie, surprisingly finds her old flame, Luca, played by Raoul Bova, still living in the villa she is staying in.
In the meantime, Maggie and Summer are embroiled in a conflict over Summer’s boyfriend, who recently got arrested for pot possession and wants Summer to take the rap. He asks her to return to New York because he is having difficulty dealing with the trauma. So when Maggie isn’t looking, Summer takes off in Luca’s car to head back to the airport. The only catch is that his mother, Carmen has the keys, and tells Summer to take her to Rome first. With no other way out, Summer takes off with Carmen, portrayed by Cardinale, who proves to be a wise, bright and manipulating senior. These two zig-zag through the countryside, inadvertently causing havoc with Maggie and Luca in chase.
The journey becomes a teaching tool as both couples bond and learn about themselves as much as each other. All Roads is somewhat of a cliché, but it has moments of sentiment, mischievousness, and fun, as it serpentines down a bumpy path. Glimpses of Italy’s countryside and parts of old Rome make it captivating, and a perfect place for a timeless romance. All the loose ends are beautifully bound like a lace wedding bouquet.
EMOTION, CHEMISTRY, AND CARDINALE
“Italy’s most romantic export,” was Raoul Bova’s introduction, as the tall, handsome actor with striking green eyes took to the podium to answer questions from the audience after the movie’s screening. Bova said with all the negative events happening in the world, he thought the movie script was ideal. In the Western world, Bova garnered a great deal of popularity for his role in the romantic drama, Under the Tuscan Sun. Similarly, Bova said he felt the emotion in this movie script, and was sold on the part when he knew Cardinale was playing his mother.
A charming and humble man, Bova noted the chemistry between him and Sarah Jessica Parker on screen. Off screen, he candidly stated he doesn’t understand why Italian men are considered great lovers.
Bova has produced two short films in Italy, as well as acted in many of Italy’s box office favorites over the last few years. In 2006, he starred with Barry Watson and Rosanna Arquette in the tv series What About Brian? He also starred in the thriller with Sylvester Stallone and Madeleine Stowe in Avenging Angelo in 2002.
In his spare time, Bova was recently involved in the World Food Day ceremony with goodwill ambassador and actress, Susan Sarandon. World Food Day works toward the elimination of poverty around the world. Kudos to that.
This was Bova’s first time in Canada, and he summarized his attendance by saying: “I wanted to come here to enjoy this special night with you.” Then everyone left, happily ever after.
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