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Italian Festival Comes to Sugar Land


Aerial view of the City of Spello.

Aerial view of the City of Spello.

Umbria In Sugar Land Brings A Five-Day Festival Of Italian Films, Culture And Entertainment To Fort Bend, Sept. 27- Oct. 1

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My Italy (La mia Italia) being screened on Wed., Sept. 27 at 7pm.

 

Text By Cheryl Alexander Photography By Debi Beauregard
Sugar Land has adopted an Italian sister, and her name is Spello! The event is such a special one that city leaders have planned a five-day celebration festival. Umbria in Sugar Land is scheduled for Sept. 27-Oct. 1 and the community is invited to partake in all that Italy has to offer. Hosted by the City of Sugar Land and the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the Festival del Cinema Citta di Spello ed i Borghi Umbri, the region of Umbria and the city of Spello, the festival will mark the first collaborative partnership between Sugar Land and its new transatlantic “partner city,” Spello.

Umbria in Sugar Land will feature private and public screenings of seven award-winning, subtitled films from the 2016 international film festival in Spello, Italy — each chosen by Donatella Cocchini, honorary event chair. A distinguished judging committee of industry experts will award Best Film, Best Screenplay, Best Cinema­tography and Best Direction awards. The event will also highlight the many cultural offerings of the Umbrian region of Italy including its food, wine and art in addition to the spotlight on its culture of cinema.

 

MORE ABOUT SPELLO

In Umbria, all of the iconic images of Italy are embodied in picturesque perfection: hills, mountains, valleys and historical towns. The hillsides are dotted with vineyards and olive tree farms and the small Etruscan cities are defined by a fusion of Medieval and modern elements. Umbria is the only Italian region having neither a coastline nor a border with other countries, hence its designation as the Green Heart of Italy. The area is known for its landscapes, traditions, history, culinary delights, artistic legacy and influence on culture.

Within the region, the hilltop city of Spello dramatically stands out with its classic, monochromatic walls and buildings. Spello is a pristine municipality where careful planning and forethought created a picturesque, timeless vision that marries its ancient Roman influence with modern-day Italy. Spello has its own unique look with its attention to architectural detail and captivating landscaping, including hanging plants dotting every street and gorgeous gardens featuring intricate, carpet-like murals created from flower petals. Brimming with arts and culture, Spello is the heart of jewelry making, photography and sculpture and offers its own internationally recognized film festival (Festival del Cinema Citta di Spello ed i Borghi Umbria), bringing contemporary arts and culture to the ancient city.

 

BEHIND THE EVENT

The idea to host the festival was introduced in 2016 when Italian native Tiziano Tiolo, now a Sugar Land resident, ap­proached the Sugar Land City Council and offered to bring components of the festival to the area in order to provide a cultural film experience for the Sugar Land community.

“Since I moved from Italy to Texas in early 2011,” said Tiolo, “I have enthusiastically promoted Italian culture, art, traditions and language. Initially, I directed programs and marketing at the Italian Cultural and Community Center of Houston, and now I have the desire to share all that Italy has to offer with the larger region.”

Tiolo believes that because both Fort Bend County and the state of Texas are among the areas with the strongest economic and demographic growth in the U.S., Sugar Land is a perfect place to host an event aimed at promoting Italian excellence. And for Tiolo, bringing the project to Sugar Land was a choice of the heart. “Sugar Land is my American adopted city,” she said, “It is the city I fell in love with at first sight and where I chose to live.”

Tiolo went to the City Council with the idea that Umbria in Sugar Land would be the perfect vehicle to promote tourism, food, wine and other products of Umbria while leveraging attendance through the quality and attractiveness of the Spello Film Festival. City leaders agreed that the idea was a good one. After hearing Tiolo’s pitch, a contingent of Fort Bend County and City of Sugar Land officials traveled to Spello last fall to meet with their Italian counterparts. The decision was made to host the festival and utilize it as a catalyst in creating a mutually beneficial, ongoing cultural, economic and educational collaborative partnership between Umbria and Fort Bend County, and the cities of Sugar Land and Spello.

 

PARTNERSHIP MISSION

The main mission of the partnership is three-fold:

 

  • To create a mutually beneficial and ongoing cultural, economic and educational collaborative partnership between the regions of Fort Bend County and Umbria, and the cities of Sugar Land, Texas, and Spello, Italy, resulting in international promotion of art, culture, tourism and economic development.
  • To further explore existing resources in both regions and specific areas of opportunity.
  • To create a counterpart to the Festival del Cinema Citta di Spello ed i Borghi Umbria film experience that will be used as a beginning catalyst for this effort and will benefit the citizens of Sugar Land and the surrounding region.

 

During the Sugar Land festival, several initiatives will support the main mission including a business-to-business exchange through the Fort Bend Chamber of Com­merce; an educational seminar, “Framing Italian Cinema” featuring three panel discussions with experts; an Umbrian art exhibit at the Sugar Land Auditorium; and international networking via Aperitivo Receptions prior to the film screenings. These varied initiatives will provide an excellent platform for cultural exchange through meetings between elected officials and leadership in which participants may experience a merging of cultures through the breaking of bread.

Sugar Land Mayor Joe Zimmerman said, “The Italian film festival is a project all about sharing our wonderful cities — Sugar Land and Spello — with the greater community through cultural arts and film. We want everyone to feel welcome to participate by attending a film screening, a seminar or other public event.”

Umbria in Sugar Land will officially open on Wed­nes­day, Sept. 27 with a mayoral proclamation and opening ceremony on the steps of Sugar Land City Hall honoring the delegation of Italian dignitaries representing Spello and Umbria. Follow­ing the introductions, Milan native Max Leonida, an acclaimed Los Angeles-based film director, writer and producer, will present the film awards.

Lindsay Davis, Cultural Arts Manager for the City of Sugar Land, summed it up: “Bringing the film festival to Sugar Land is a wonderful opportunity to highlight the important role that cultural arts plays in our community. We are fortunate to have city leaders very committed to further expanding the city’s cultural footprint through additional exhibits, festivals and seminars in order to provide a rich, ongoing cultural experience for our residents and attract visitors from across the state.”

Visit umbriainsugarland.com for a full schedule of events and locations, and ticketing information.

 

Sugar Land Mayor Joe Zimmerman presents a custom pecan wood key to the Umbrian delegation members Donatella Porzi and Fabio Paparelli. Also present were Donatella Cocchini, Keri Schmidt, and Lindsay Davis.

Sugar Land Mayor Joe Zimmerman presents a custom pecan wood key to the Umbrian delegation members Donatella Porzi and Fabio Paparelli. Also present were Donatella Cocchini, Keri Schmidt, and Lindsay Davis.

 

The Sugar Land and Fort Bend delegation discovers the treasures of the Perugina Chocolate Factory. (Perugia, Italy in Umbria).

The Sugar Land and Fort Bend delegation discovers the treasures of the Perugina Chocolate Factory. (Perugia, Italy in Umbria).

 

Sugar Land Mayor Joe Zimmerman and Spello Mayor Moreno Landrini.

Sugar Land Mayor Joe Zimmerman and Spello Mayor Moreno Landrini.

 

Sightseeing in Spello: Silvia Angelucci; Lindsay Davis, Cultural Arts Manager, City of Sugar Land; Keri Schmidt, President and CEO, Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce; and Donatella Cocchini, President, Festival del Cinema Città di Spello ed i Borghi Umbri.

Sightseeing in Spello: Silvia Angelucci; Lindsay Davis, Cultural Arts Manager, City of Sugar Land; Keri Schmidt, President and CEO, Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce; and Donatella Cocchini, President, Festival del Cinema Città di Spello ed i Borghi Umbri.

 

Keri Schmidt, President and CEO, Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce and Sugar Land Mayor Joe Zimmerman explore the culinary side of Spello.

Keri Schmidt, President and CEO, Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce and Sugar Land Mayor Joe Zimmerman explore the culinary side of Spello.

 

Fort Bend Chamber President and CEO Keri Schmidt discusses renewable plastics with Massimiliano Brilli, CEO of GPT – Gruppo Poligrafico Tiberino.

Fort Bend Chamber President and CEO Keri Schmidt discusses renewable plastics with Massimiliano Brilli, CEO of GPT – Gruppo Poligrafico Tiberino.

 

Hanging flowers adorn ancient city streets in Spello, Italy.

Hanging flowers adorn ancient city streets in Spello, Italy.

 

Portal gate in city wall, City of Spello.

Portal gate in city wall, City of Spello.


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