Oct. 9, 2003



Catholic University Brings Noted Italian Director Pupi Avati to Campus

University Partners with Italian Film Festival for Director’s Talk


In conjunction with the 2003 Washington, Italia Film and Music Festival, which celebrates Italian cinema in the United States, CUA’s Media Studies and Italian Studies programs are bringing prominent Italian director Pupi Avati to campus for A Conversation with the Maestro Pupi Avati. The event will include a director’s talk, film clips and question-and-answer session.


Avati won the award for best screenplay at the 2000 Montreal World Film Festival for “La via deglia angeli” (“The Road of Angels”) and was nominated for awards at the 1991 and 1993 Cannes film festivals. In 1989, he made a splash in the United States with his film “The Story of Boys and Girls.”


The CUA event, conducted in English, will be held Friday, Oct. 24, at 4 p.m. in Great Room A of the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center. It will feature the trailer for Avati’s 2002 film “il cuore altrove” (“A Heart Elsewhere”), which will have its American premiere at the D.C. film festival.


Sponsored by the Capri in the World Institute (which also hosts annual film festivals on the island of Capri), the festival will be held Oct. 22-26 at the Visions Cinema Bistro Lounge near Dupont Circle. It will honor Academy Award-winner Roberto Benigni (who won the best actor Oscar for 1998’s “Life is Beautiful”), the late director Federico Fellini and other Italian film figures.


Capri in the World wanted to partner with a Washington, D.C., university to bring an academic flavor to the event and to get young people interested in Italian film and culture, says Janet Staihar, the organization’s U.S. spokesperson.


“We had heard about CUA’s media studies program, so we decided to contact the university,” she says. “Catholic University’s program is top-notch, and we hope to partner with it again in the future.”


“This partnership is a prestigious step for the university and a testament to the success of its program in media studies,” says Lisa Gitelman, program director and associate professor of media studies and English.


The Media Studies Program at The Catholic University of America currently offers the university’s third most popular undergraduate major, behind politics and business and economics, in the School of Arts of Sciences. CUA’s first class of 13 “communications studies” majors graduated in 1997. The program, renamed media studies three years ago, currently has 170 students enrolled in classes that teach them to think critically about media as they create award-winning projects. 2003 graduate Bridget Venckus Coble and senior Kelly Vorrasi recently won the Special Jury Award for their film “Road to Calvary” at the Georgetown Independent Film Festival. At last year’s festival, the CUA student film “Dog Eat Dog” won first prize in the “mockumentary” category.


The Italian Studies Program at CUA offers a minor in Italian in addition to opportunities to study abroad. The program has brought in Giuseppe Mazzotta, one of the world’s leading experts on the medieval Italian poet Dante, to teach a fall 2003 course on Dante’s “Purgatorio” at CUA this semester. “Purgatorio” is the second volume of Dante's “Divine Comedy,” which chronicles a journey through purgatory on the way to heaven. Mazzotta — who is president of the Dante Society of America, the oldest scholarly association in the United States — will deliver a public lecture on campus at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 6, in the Life Cycle Institute Auditorium. His talk is titled: “How Art Changes Morality: Dante's Purgatorio (X-XII).”


Both the Avati and the Mazzotta events are free and open to the public. For more information, call Gitelman at 202-319-5601, or Stefania Lucamante, director of the Italian Studies Program, at 202-319-5240. For more information about the Washington Italia film festival, contact Janet Staihar at 202-494-2490.



MEDIA: To arrange for interviews or coverage of the Avati discussion or the Mazzotta lecture, contact Chris Harrison in the Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600.


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The Catholic University of America, an institution of higher learning in Washington, D.C., is unique as the national university of the Catholic Church in America. Founded in 1887 and chartered by Congress, the university opened as a graduate and research institution. Undergraduate programs were introduced in 1904. Today the campus has approximately 5,500 undergraduate and graduate students from all states and more than 100 countries enrolled in schools of religious studies, canon law, philosophy, law, arts and sciences, engineering, social service, nursing, music, library and information science, and architecture and planning.  Visit www.cua.edu.