By Julie Pendray
IDYLLWILD, Calif. — One of the joys of Idyllwild’s festival of cinema is getting to know movie makers who return year after year from all over the world.
International actress Michela Carattini was among those who returned this year. She took home the Mary Austin Award for Outstanding Performance, based on her body of work. These awards are given to women in the industry.
Carattini is remembered as part of the 54 Days team from Australia that took home The Grand Jury Award for Best of Festival last year. It was her first time at the Idyllwild event. Carattini was nominated for best actress in the sci-fi drama, which portrays a group of friends taking refuge from a bomb explosion in a 1960s style Sydney shelter.
This year, the Sydney based actress appeared in three productions: Le Matinal; Sweet Disposition; and The 33rd Wedding.
In Le Matinal, a romantic short, Carattini leads as a Parisian backpacking to Sydney who falls in love with an Australian. She’s torn between him and her Parisian boyfriend back home. In its world premier, the short was nominated in several categories. Director Gavin Guan came to Idyllwild for the festival. He moved to LA two months ago.
In the short drama Sweet Disposition, directed by Carattini’s Parisian friend Kathleen Hrayssi, a confident ad man sees his life falling apart over a woman. Carattini plays a Sydney businesswoman. Sweet Disposition received a number of nominations in Idyllwild.
Carattini describes The 33rd Wedding as “a Woody-Allen style comedy with a mental health twist.”
“A woman throws herself a wedding-themed birthday party because she doesn’t believe she’ll ever meet Mr. Right,” she said. Carattini is one of the leads, playing a New York psychiatrist. The movie was awarded Honorable Mention in the Idyllwild festival, which was its U.S. premier. The producer, Jed Malone, was in town for the event.
How easy was it for an Australian to adopt a New York accent?
“I used my natural accent, which is Standard American with a hint of New York, where I lived for 8 years, so my own accent can go either way,” she told me in an interview in Idyllwild. “My father was Panamanian American and my mother is Australian, so my own accent is partly American.”
Her father, Charlie Carattini, passed away seven months ago. At the festival’s award ceremony, the actress paused to say one last sentence after her acceptance comments: “Dad, I know you can see this.”
Carattini is expecting her second child this year. She doesn’t know the baby’s sex but her 4-year-old son, Zayed, has told her he wants to name the infant Zoe, regardless.
“He’s really into the letter Z right now,” Carattini said. “But I’ve told him I’m thinking of a different name and when he has a baby, he can name her Zoe.”
The actress, in her 30s, wants to impart a message to other women in the business.
“Don’t be afraid to live your life while you’re working on your professional goals. My life experience has made me a better actor.”
Three months ago, she shot a featurette in Italy, called Tendency to Love or Tendenza ad Amar. She used a Sardinian accent.
“I’m multi-lingual,” Carattini said. “I grew up in Germany. My dad was in military intelligence for the U.S. Army and my mother danced for the Australian ballet. She was dancing for the Frankfurt ballet when they met. He was stationed there.”
Carattini has two more movies in post-production. In Broken Hallelujah, she plays a U.S. ambassador’s wife who learns a “terrible secret” about him.
Unspoiled by Feminism is based on Carattini’s work as an anti-human-trafficking social worker and counselor in Prague.
“The movie isn’t about human trafficking though,” she said. “The title comes from the more mainstream acceptable world of introduction agencies. It’s about a date between a Czech girl and an Australian guy who meet through an online dating service.”
This movie is directed by her friend Kathleen Hrayssi.
Carattini will be in a major motion picture to be shot at the end of this year, she said.
“It’s a U.K production, filmed in Europe, and it’s an action movie about human trafficking,” she said.
“Modern day slavery comes out of desperation by traffickers and the trafficked people,” she said. “If we don’t create a market to consume and if we focus on developing other countries, there isn’t a need.”
Carattini is a singer, dancer and director, in addition to her film and stage acting career. Her first performance was at age 14, according to her profile on IMDB.com . She is a graduate of The American Musical & Dramatic Academy (NYC), Columbia University (BAPsych) and Sydney University (MCrim).
To see a full list of awards and nominations from Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema, check out their web site.
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