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The news that some of the best films by Italian filmmaker Mario Monicelli would be screened this week in Havana made headliners on most cultural sections of the Cuban media.

The showcase is seen here as one of the greatest events in this time of the year when Cuba is about to welcome filmmakers, actors and actresses from around the world to its International Film Festival of the New Latinamerican Cinema.

So, no wonder that the retrospective Between Peace and War: a Look at Mario Monicelli's Work is regarded as a preview, and a good one, of what the Film Festival would bring. Monicelli, best known for his contribution to the so-called commedia alla italiana, Comedy Italian Style, is expected to meet Cuban colleagues, reporters, critics and fans this Friday. The Havana-based Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples will host the gathering in which the 92 year-old director, screenwriter, playwright and actor will be answering questions and sharing his experiences on a career that began in the 1940's and is apparently far from closing since his latest film The Roses of the Desert is dated in 2006.

The showcase is precisely kicking off with the premier of that film on Friday 29th at Infanta movie theater. With The Roses of the Desert, Monicelli goes deeper into one of his obsessions: common and sensible man faced with the horrors of war.

Following are two of his classic films: I soliti ignoti (Big Deal on Madonna Street) (1958) and La grande guerra (The Great War) (1959). The first one is considered as the milestone of the commedia alla italiana, a genre he fathered and developed to its best. In addition Big Deal on Madonna Street features some of the most renowned names on the Who's Who of the performing arts in Italy. Starring are Vittorio Gassman, Marcello Mastroianni and Claudia Cardinale.

As for The Great War, it was awarded the Venice Film Festival Lion for Best Film in 1959 and was nominated for the Oscar the next year. I Compagni (The Organizer) (1963), featuring the great Mastroianni and Annie Girardot, plus Un borghese piccolo piccolo (A Very Little Man) (1977), starred by Alberto Sordi, are also part of the program that will close on December 3rd.

The showcase is sponsored by the Italian cultural organization ARCI, which maintains a long and fruitful cooperation with Cuban cultural institutions such as the Cuban Cinema Institute.

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