By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published May 07, 2009 at 8:13 AM

For the third straight year, Milwaukee hosts the Italian Film Festival USA, this weekend, May 9-10, at UWM Union Theatre, on the second floor of the Student Union, 2200 E. Kenwood Blvd.

This is the second time the festival has taken place at UWM. The debut event was held at Marquette University's Varsity Theater.

Showing this year are five recent Italian films, all in Italian with English subtitles:

"Notturno bus" ("Night Bus") by Davide Marengo on Saturday, May 9 (104 min.) at 5 p.m.; "La giusta distanza" ("The Right Distance") by Carlo Mazzacurati on Saturday, May 9 (106 min.) at 7 p.m.; "Valzer" ("The Waltz") by Salvatore Maira, on Saturday, May 9 (90 min.) at 9 p.m.; "Hotel Meina" by Carlo Lizzani on Sunday, May 10 (110 min.) at 5 p.m.; and "Il vento fa il suo giro" ("The Wind Blows Round") by Giorgio Diritti on Sunday, May 10 (110 min.) at 7:15 p.m.

All screenings are free and open to the public.

The festival is organized in collaboration with Barbara Klein of St. Louis, who also works on festivals in Minneapolis, Detroit, Cleveland, Kansas City and St. Louis. Klein works locally with author and Marquette instructor Paul Salsini and's Bobby Tanzilo.

The festivals are held with the support of the Italian Cultural Institute of Chicago.

"The festival adds to Milwaukee's already great film scene," says Tanzilo. "These are films that otherwise would never been seen here in town. And since the screenings are all free, it's a great value."

"Notturno bus" is a dark comedy about a bored Roman bus driver and a seductive young woman who cross paths with a series of unsavory characters during their get-rich scheme.

"La giusta distanza" is a murder mystery set in a small town in the Po River delta country of Northeastern Italy, where a budding journalist finds himself in the middle of the story.

"Valzer" is the story of Assunta, a young hotel waitress and her friend's father, who believes he will meet his daughter after 20 years' absence and finds, instead, an unknown woman who has taken on her identity.

"Hotel Meina" is based on a true story. In 1943 a group of 16 Jewish Italians are guests at a hotel on Lago Maggiore. Following the Sept. 8 armistice between Italy and the Allies, an SS unit arrives at the hotel and takes them hostage.

"Il vento fa il suo giro" focuses on a French shepherd who transfers his family and their goats to a small village in the Occitan Alps. The inhabitants of the village, after a warm welcome, begin to feel uncomfortable by the presence of the new arrivals.

"Folks who remember the Gruppo Teatro Angrogna that performed at last year's Festa Italiana," says Tanzilo, "will recognize the setting of ‘Il vento fa il suo giro" as the area from which the group hails."

Milwaukee Underground Film Festival

The Milwaukee Underground Film Festival returns for its fourth year this weekend, presenting five distinct programs of short works from around the globe.

The festival -- which takes place at UWM’s Union Theatre on Friday, May 8, beginning at 7 p.m. and at Walker’s Point Center for the Arts with programs on Saturday and Sunday, May 8-9 at 6 and 9 p.m. -- is organized by students, who handle not only the programming, but all technical and operational aspects of the event, too.

"The festival has come together in a short amount of time and all of the films were viewed, selected and organized into these five programs entirely by students," says David Dinnell, who is the event's UWM faculty advisor. "I think they came up with a great three days of energetic and innovative experimental, independent and animated short films and videos ... and some live sound / image performances."

A range of fundraisers -- three were just held in April -- support MUFF. Although the UWM program on Friday is free, the four programs at Walker’s Point Center for the Arts, 911 W. National Ave., cost $4 each. A festival pass is available at the door for $12.