The great director Abel Ferrara (Bad Lieutenant, the forthcoming Welcome to New York) will premiere his long-gestating Pier Paolo Pasolini biopic (starring Willem Dafoe) at the Toronto International Film Festival next month. One way to prepare for such a hotly-anticipated item is, of course, to familiarize oneself with the work of the multi-hyphenate Pasolini himself. Few of the movies in his cherished filmography have had as long a road to recognition as his second feature, Mamma Roma (1962): it wasn’t even released in the U.S. until 1995, when Martin Scorsese spearheaded its theatrical debut. Pasolini wrote the title character—a Roman prostitute looking to shed her profession for her teenage son’s (Ettore Garofolo) benefit—with lead actress Anna Magnani (Rome, Open City) in mind, and the results are explosive. It screens tonight on Casa Belvedere’s magnificent front lawn as part of the Outdoor Italian Film Festival.

Thu., Aug. 21, 8 p.m., 2014