The first of these is Matteo Garrone’s ‘Dogman’, inspired by one of the most gruesome crimes carried out in modern Italy, the so-called “Canaro’s killing”.

The urban Western is set in a barren seaside town that feels hauntingly post-apocalyptic and depicts a dog-eat-dog Italy.

The second must-see film at the festival is Alice Rohrwacher’s enchanting third feature ‘Happy as Lazzaro’, which is a magic-realist fable of modern Italy that bends time in unforgettable ways. 

From fantasy to reality, the next film set to wow audiences is the documentary ‘Pope Francis: A Man of His Word’, by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Wim Wenders.

Much lauded for his progressive views on climate change, income inequality and even gay rights, Francis has come to represent the hopes of tens of millions that the world’s largest faith might slowly be awakening to the modern age.

This documentary gives viewers behind the scenes access to the Vatican and offers a definitive portrait of the Pope with exclusive interviews.

Two Italian films are part of the schools program: ‘Mountain Miracle – An Unexpected Friendship’ and Marco Renda’s ‘Edhel’.

The former is a spirited and acclaimed coming-of-age adventure about a young girl’s determination to overcome obstacles, despite suffering from life-threatening asthma.

Meanwhile, the latter tells the tale of a young girl with malformed ears who uses fantasy to help her cope with classroom bullies and process the death of her father.

Produced in 18 days and on a tight budget, the film is highly acclaimed and sends a strong message to young audiences to embrace their differences.

The festival will also celebrate famous Italian crime and action films from the ’60s and ’70s with its Italo-Crime series, featuring six titles, from ‘The Violent Four’ (1968) to ‘Revolver’ (1973).

Though only a fraction of what’s on offer at this year’s festival, these diverse yet equally captivating films are worthy ambassadors for the excellence of Italian cinema.