Film and Family: Recommended Films to Watch Together, edited by Sentieri del Cinema, Itaca 2011, € 10. (Original Title: Cinema e famiglia: proposte di film da guardare insieme).
The publisher Itaca has put together a list of 55 films to watch as a family in a convenient, compact book of just over 100 pages. The book is edited by the cultural association Sentieri del Cinema, with the title Cinema e famiglia: proposte di film da guardare insieme (Film and Family: Recommended Films to Watch Together). The preface is written by Domenico Pompili, Director of the National Office of Social Communications for the Italian Bishop’s Conference (CEI). The various contributors to the book include Beppe Musicco, president of Sentieri del Cinema, Daniela Persico, film critic and teacher, Antonio Autieri, director of the magazine Box Office. An interview of the psychotherapist Guido Banzatti is even included.
The films are grouped into four main categories: The Family as a Gift for the Community, The Child-Parent Relationship, Growing Together, and Family and Personal Identity. Each review is about a page long, in addition to the basic film details listed. A brief synopsis and comment are included, with a description of the ideal target audience according to three age-groups: 11, 14, all ages. The selection is quite diverse, varying from classic black and white films (How Green Was My Valley, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Kid, etc.) to the most recent productions (such as The Blind Side, The Concert, and Toy Story 3). There are six animated films and a collection of series (The Chronicles of Narnia); but there are also films by Academy Award Directors (Kieslowski’s The Decalogue, or Dardenne’s La Promesse). The director with the most films is Tim Burton (with Edward Scissor Hands, Big Fish, and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory), while Capra, Spielberg and Benigni come in second, each with two films that made it on the list. The book even includes a western (3:10 to Yuma) and a documentary (The Story of the Weeping Camel). A neo-realist film is represented by Bicycle Thieves.
The book of course does not pretend to have an exhaustive character on the immense topic it touches upon. It merely offers suggestions of films in an easily understood language, primarily keeping parents in mind. It seems only right to congratulate an initiative like this. With a positive approach toward cinema, it aims to bring out the advantages of the influence that this medium has acquired in today’s education. As the authors say, “watching a film together as a family can become a precious occasion. Through a means that has a strong communicative and artistic impact, it can offer children and teens basic criteria, which arise from a comparison between what is seen and what is experienced, in light of the most genuine and profound needs of the person.”