The cinema of Italy has historically punched above its weight in terms of international acclaim. This southern European country’s films have won more best foreign language Oscars (13) than any other, including world cinema favourites France and Japan. Italy has also taken home the second most Palme d’Or awards (12) from the Cannes Film Festival. Italian cinema is more than a century old, but I know quite a few people whose first taste of films from that part of the world came through Cinema Paradiso, which won the Academy Award for best foreign language film in 1989 (and the grand prize of the jury at Cannes a year before). Giuseppe Tornatore’s unashamedly romantic tale is about a filmmaker who looks back fondly at his childhood in a Sicilian village, where he fell in love with cinema at the local movie house and where he struck an unlikely friendship with its gruff projectionist. It has been criticised by some cineastes for being too schmaltzy and emotionally manipulative. But I admit to retaining a soft spot for this crowd-pleasing love letter to the art form – not least because it opened me up to checking out other films from this country whose notable contributions have included spaghetti westerns and the stylish giallo genre. Hong Kong-based film fans are more likely to get their Italian film fix through video rather than at a cinema or art house venue. But this week, there are two Italian film programmes on the big screen. Head to the Grand Cinema for “Cine Italiano!”, a programme of eight contemporary films including 2013 David di Donatello Award winners A Five Star Life (best actress for Margherita Buy), Long Live Freedom (best screenplay for Roberto Ando and Angelo Pasquini) and Every Blessed Day (Simone Lenzi and Matteo Pastorelli for best song). If you prefer older classics, check out “Repertory Cinema 2013 – Italian Neo-realism Cinema”. Running until late October at the Film Archive and the Science Museum, titles include Vittorio De Sica’s 1949 Oscar winner Bicycle Thieves , and Cannes Grand Prize winners De Sica’s Miracle in Milan and Roberto Rossellini’s Rome, Open City .