If you spend any amount of time in Toronto, then you quickly realize that it's a city with a sizable appreciation for film. Some of it may be weather related, with a climate that can change 30 degrees Celsius in the course of a day, but much of it's sheer cinematic appreciation.
There are the heavy hitters that are internationally renowned: the Toronto International Film Festival and the Hot Docs Film Festival. However, the smaller and less showy film festivals are no less captivating.
Take the Italian Contemporary Film Festival – which is still in its kindergarten years, yet has big plans. In fact, it doesn't limit itself to Toronto. It also splashes across Vaughan, Montreal, Mississauga and even Quebec City.
The Italian Contemporary Film Festival's well-dressed audience — Photo courtesy of Italian Contemporary Film Festival
Set in 2015 for June 11 to 19, the ICFF (best to say the letters as opposed to the sound, lest people assume you're sneezing) features films from around the world spread across Toronto (including the TIFF lightbox).
They assure it's the highest quality of Italian cinema; you can be certain you're consuming the cinematic equivalent of a house-made bolognese sauce on hand-cut pasta, instead of dried pasta from a box with a jar of Prego.
If you have made it to Italy, it's hard to forget the stark combination of grandmotherly kindness combined with blunt honesty. As with every country, there's a range of landscapes from the dark and gritty to the sun soaked and verdant, yet "Italianness" as a concept has intrigued the world as a whole.
Even if you haven't had a chance to fly over, what better way to partake than through the lens of Italy itself? Although films will often be in Italian or other languages, subtitles make it easy to fit right in. (If only they existed in real life.)
Danny Glover (award receiver); Cristiano de Florentiis (co-founder and artistic director); and Maurizio Magnifico (co-founder and managing director) at the Italian Contemporary Film Festival — Photo courtesy of Italian Contemporary Film Festival
Feature films, documentaries and shorts will be available for low ticket price bundles. You can check out advance screenings of Italian North American films. Screenings will be followed by diverse social events, including gala parties, Q&A sessions with filmmakers and actors and academic discussions.
The opening and closing galas are held at the Ritz Carlton and Roy Thomson Hall to give movie-goers the opportunity to wear their finest and try to score a conversation with an international celebrity. If you're not sure who the celebrity is, here is an easy way to cheat: they're usually the ones that look effortlessly glamourous.
Your viewership counts at this festival, and you're invited to vote for your favorite narrative feature after you've sufficiently immersed yourself in Italian culture.
The winning film will receive the Italian Contemporary Film Festival Audience Award. It's nice when the "People's Choice" actually includes people that you know.
Now you really can say, "Veni, vidi, vici" and mean it. Until next year, at least.