It was 6:50 p.m. on April 25th, 2014, which happened to be the Friday night of my last Little 500 at Indiana University and the second night of IU cinema’s Italian Film Festival Conference. I debated with myself whether or not to attend the film as I was torn between my desire to improve my Italian language skills and my love for the Bloomington nightlife. Finally, and without a second to spare, I kicked back the last of my drink and stepped out into the crisp spring air.
As I biked down 7th street towards the IU cinema that evening, I wondered, “How socially pathetic am I going to appear showing up to a half vacant theater unaccompanied on the Friday night of IU’s biggest celebration?” To my surprise, I wasn’t the only lonely soul hustling to make the 7 pm showing of Carlo Verdone’s Io, Loro, e Lara or Me, Them, and Lara. As I grabbed my ticket and entered the theater a feeling of belonging swept over me. Not only was the theater packed tight but students of my age were in attendance and some I recognized from class. I took a seat just as the director and main actor, Carlo Verdone, began to talk about his film.
Verdone talked about the process he went through making Me, Them, and Lara, one of his most successful films and winner of the 2010 Best Comedy Golden Globe. Verdone was a thematic man and he jested about his experience interviewing missionaries to help develop the protagonist of the film, an Italian priest who returns from a missionary trip in Africa to find himself out-of-place in his very home. Verdone reflected on writing the script and how, because of a quickly approaching deadline, he wrote it in less time than any other movie he had produced. After about fifteen minutes of lead up from Verdone, he dedicated the film to his father who had passed away during filming.
I won’t spoil the plot for those of you who wish to see Me, Them, and Lara someday, but I will say the film exuded Verdone’s whimsical humor juxtaposed with the lonesomeness of the protagonist. In the end, the protagonist’s lonesomeness is resolved and I left the theater with a feeling of accomplishment, tranquility, and reconciliation with my own feelings of lonesomeness I had experienced on my way to the theater. As I biked off into the now brisk night air, I had no regrets about the decision to attend the film and I felt goia, joy in English (my mind was in Italian mode), because the night had just begun.
In short, sacrifices and trade-offs are a necessity to study abroad. I sacrificed those few short but precious hours to try to improve my study abroad experience by improving my language skills and cultural knowledge. This was just a sample of my future year abroad but my experience at the Italian Film Festival reassured me that it is a worthwhile sacrifice.