Your primer to Italian film’s legendary screen sirens, from Sophia Loren to Anita Ekberg

Anita Ekberg La Dolce Vita

Summer always comes with the alluring promise of escape. If you can’t make it out to a cottage to go swimming in a lake, then perhaps the next best thing is a dark, air-conditioned movie theatre. This summer, TIFF is screening two retrospectives: Summer in Italy and More Than Life Itself: Rediscovering the Films of Vittorio de Sica, where you can go to lose yourself to the lush visuals and foreign landscape of 1960s Italy for 90 minutes at a time.

Both retrospectives pay homage to the golden age of Italian cinema. Many of Italy’s film studios had been damaged during WWII, so these neorealist films were often shot in the streets, sometimes using non-professional actors. Directors like Luchino Visconti, Roberto Rossellini, and Vittoria de Sica, were able to take the political and economic turmoil the country was facing and spin it into beautiful examples of film.

We’ll be taking history lessons from the smouldering screen sirens at the heart of the retrospective; Claudia Cardinale, Anna Magnani, Monica Vitti and of course, Sophia Loren. Their retro beauty looks are stunningly now: strong brows, dark eyeliner and the occasional smattering of armpit hair. Not to mention their commanding confidence and sly sexuality all make for scene-stealing style.

It’s time. Close your eyes and imagine you’re surrounded by lush trees, cobblestone streets and a warm summer breeze is blowing gently on your skin. Now open your eyes and head directly to TIFF.