Cheri and Luigi, one second before she fainted!

Questo è il sesto post di una serie da parte dei lettori che esplorano le loro ragioni per imparare l’italiano. Oggi vorrei farvi conoscere Cheri Passell. Cheri è una persona affascinante perché lei è pazzamente innamorata di film Italiani. Il suo entusiasmo per il cinema italiano è gli attori italiani è palpabile. Ho seguito Cheri per diversi anni sono sempre con bocca aperta della sua straordinaria capacità di conoscere e incontrare di persona alcuni dei più famosi attori del ciniema in Italia. Ho scritto a Cheri e le ho chiesto di condividere con noi alcuni dei suoi momenti più memoriabili. Eccola con la sua storia – perché ama l’Italia e la lingua.

This is the sixth post in a series by readers highlighting their reasons for learning Italian. Today I would like to introduce to you Cheri Passell. Cheri is a fascinating person, as she is crazy in love with Italian movies. Her enthusiasm for Italian cinema and Italian actors is palpable. I have followed Cheri for some time and am a bit in awe of her uncanny ability to connect with and meet in person some of Italy’s most famous movie actors! I wrote to Cheri and asked if she would share some of her most memorable moments. Here she is with her story of why she loves Italy and loves the language!

I am so pleased that you all are sending stories! Keep them coming. I will post once a week.

Here is Cheri!

Back in 2010 when I started my blog I Love Italian Movies I remember having what I joked were delusions of grandeur but turned out to be a reality for me. I told my family, after writing about my favorite actor, Luigi Lo Cascio, “Maybe I’ll get to meet him one day”, with the same conviction as if I’d just said, “Maybe I’ll go to the moon next week!” Lucky for me, sometimes dreams come true. I did get to meet the star of La Meglio Gioventù (The Best of Youth) and I Cento Passi (The Hundred Steps), and that was just the start.

I started I Love Italian Movies for two reasons: I wanted to improve my Italian, and I was tired of people saying the Italian Film Industry was dead. Though its rebirth is more obvious these days (example: The Great Beauty won the Academy Award in 2014), back in the early 2000s not even Italians were watching Italian movies. I was one of the first people to notice the new wave of Italian filmmakers that were popping up everywhere, and I started writing about them. Today there is a big list of great Italian movies that we can stream here in the United States, and you can find links to them at my ULTIMATE GUIDE TO STREAMING ITALIAN CINEMA.

Over the last 6 years, I have watched almost every movie made in Italy since the year 2000 (some of them are real stinkers, but Hollywood has its share of bad movies too) and I have had the privilege of meeting and talking with some of the directors and actors who have particularly impressed me. I cover the Venice Film Festival every year,  The Film Society at Lincoln Center’s Open Roads: New Italian Cinema in NYC, and get to Rome as often as I can, so when I am offered the opportunity to talk with the people who are making the movies, I grab it. Many other cities are hosting Italian film festivals these days, and I’ve gotten to meet stars and directors at festivals in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Toronto.

Photo Credit: Cheri Passell

Earlier this month I met the actress that I like to call “Italy’s Sweetheart”, Paola Cortellesi. We have access to so few of her films here in the USA and Americans don’t know her as well as they should, but in addition to her being one of the most talented, successful actresses working today, she’s a lovely, unaffected woman that you’d like to have for a best friend.

I’d been invited to what the invitation called a press conference, to be held at a New York City restaurant at 11:30 am, and the organizers told me that I may have a few minutes with her one on one. Nerd that I am, I showed up at 11:15, and I was the first to arrive. As 11:30 am came and went, naturally I was confused, but as I sat there wondering what to do with myself, in walked none other than Paola Cortellesi, laughing, hugging me, and talking to me about some mutual friends (The Paola Cortellesi Fan Club). Apparently, there was no organized “press conference, I’d have as much one on one time with her as I needed, and it was wonderful. Read my Interview with Paola Cortellisi

Photo Credit: Cheri Passell

I had another “OHMYGOD” starstruck moment earlier this year when I was granted an interview with the most awarded actress in the history of Italian cinema, Margherita Buy, at the Venice Film Festival. Margherita has won more best actress awards than even Sophia Loren and can be seen most recently in the USA in Nanni Moretti’scelebrated Mia Madre (My Mother), also starring John Turturro.

I’d been told that Margherita was…difficult. People said that she hated the press and was uncommunicative and reserved, but she wasn’t like that at all with me. She couldn’t stop laughing at my business card (a cartoon of me in a movie theater) and the name I Love Italian Movies, and she talked with me openly and sincerely about what it was like for an Italian actress who is no longer a teenager.

Photo Credit: Cheri Passell

Margherita’s got a lot of films available here in the USA, so check out the Ultimate Guide for films like Viaggio Solo (A Five Star Life) and Giorni e Nuvole (Days and Clouds). Read my Interview with Margherita Here

Photo Credit: Cheri Passell

The Trifecta of interviews with great Italian actresses was with the amazing Alba Rohrwacher, in New York City for a screening of her film Vergine Giurata (Sworn Virgin). I remember saying to her at first sight, “I don’t know if I can talk to you! I am so in awe of you!” and she hugged me and laughed. Do any of these top Italian actresses behave like divas? I haven’t met one who does.

Alba let the director, Laura Bispuri, do most of the talking, and when she spoke it was to praise Bispuri and her costars. Read my Interview with Laura Bispuri Here She’s soft-spoken, unassuming, and has an ethereal beauty that is extremely magnetic, and it was hard not to stare at her the whole time. Alba’s got many movies that have been distributed in the United States, so check out: Vergine Giurata (Sworn Virgin), Le Meraviglie(The Wonders), and the English language Hungry Hearts.

 If you liked this guest post you might like these too:

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  1. Wow! It’s wonderful how your passion refuels itself with these great opportunities to meet the film stars you love. They clearly recognize and appreciate your enthusiasm for their work and it’s a positive experience for everyone. Very impressive.
    (By the way, personally, I’d love to meet Checco Zalone.)

    1. I agree, I just feel like he’d be hilarious. And Riccardo Scamarcio circa a few years when I was obsessed with Tre Metri Sopra Il Cielo (I was JUST starting Italian at the time and this was the first full movie and book I read).

  2. It is very excited to meet the film starts and we can’t even forget the time spent with them. It sounds like you’re too passionate about films. Hope you’re doing great.