New Mexico Italian Film and Culture Festival
The annual New Mexico Italian Film and Culture Festival benefits UNM Children's Hospital.

The New Mexico Italian Film and Culture Festival, now in its seventh year, expands into Santa Fe on Feb. 9 with Carnevale in Venezia, an evening that will showcase the film “Shun Li and the Poet,” followed by dinner at Osteria D’Assisi. Proceeds will benefit University of New Mexico Children’s Hospital.

The film, which centers on a Chinese immigrant's struggle in Italy and is set on an island in the Venetian lagoon, will be shown at 4 p.m. at The Screen on the campus of Santa Fe University of Art & Design, said Santa Fe New Mexico Italian Film and Culture co-coordinator Lisa Contarino.

The Venetian theme will continue after the film with a gourmet dinner featuring typical foods of the region, prepared by Osteria d'Assisi Executive Chef Cristian Pontiggia. The restaurant is located at 58 South Federal Place in downtown Santa Fe. Guests are invited to come “in maschera” for the festivities, Contarino said.

Tickets are $100 for the evening. To purchase tickets, visit http://thescreensf.com or call 505-473-6464. The Santa Fe Italian Film and Culture Festival website is http://ItalianFilmFestSF.org.

The Santa Fe Carnevale in Venezia is just one of a number of first-ever events and collaborative efforts being introduced with the 2014 New Mexico Italian Film and Culture Festival.

In Albuquerque, the festival kicks off Feb. 8 at Hotel Andaluz with a gala musical performance and reception and runs through Feb. 15. Other special events include pre-movie talks, school presentations and an indoor bocce tournament. All films are in Italian with English subtitles and include a great mix of genres, from comedy to drama to romance. A schedule for the Albuquerque events can be found at http://www.italianfilmfest.org

Over its seven-year history, the festival has donated more than $170,000 to UNM Children’s Hospital.

“We are delighted to be working with the Italian Film and Cultural Festival once again for the benefit of the children’s hospital and its Child Liffe Services. Their generous donations have made an impact on the lives of our patients and their families,” said Steve McKernan, chief executive officer for UNM Hospitals.

UNM Children’s Hospital, New Mexico’s only dedicated children’s hospital, cares for nearly 60,000 children a year, more than half of whom live outside of the Albuquerque area. The facility spans three floors of dedicated pediatric clinical space and includes a newly equipped maternity center, pediatric emergency center, newborn intensive care unit, pediatric oncology infusion center and Child Life Center. Pediatric patient rooms are spacious and secure to provide comfort and privacy for the patient and his or her family.

The hospital's Child Life program provides recreation areas and activities for pediatric patients to help minimize the stress of hospitalization and to help children and their families cope positively with their healthcare experience.

“We work hard to bring a home-like atmosphere to some of the sickest pediatrics patients in the state,” said Julia Grimes, director of Child Life Services. “Organizations like the Italian Film Festival raise awareness of our programs and help to make our mission a success.”

UNM Children’s Hospital has been a beneficiary since the first New Mexico Italian Film and Culture Festival was staged in 2007 by the festival’s founder, Ronaldo Patrizio-Steiner.  The event became Patrizio-Steiner's passion and his annual gift to the community. When he moved out of state after the 2012 festival, he left the festival in the hands of Italian Festivals of New Mexico, a nonprofit organization he established a year earlier. Members of that organization, all dedicated to the cause of UNM Children’s Hospital and to showcasing Italian cinema and culture in New Mexico, stepped forward to continue and expand the festival.