Cristina SOLDANO – Artistic Director European Film Festival
Map of fundamental trends
Between asceticism of thought and suspension of time, the 16th European Film Festival tells about the passion of a trip into the soul, into the darkness of the room, about the fascinating cinematic experience being shared by the public, including meetings with the authors.
European feature-length films competition: GOLDEN OLIVE TREE
Ten directors show the vitality and diversity of stylistic proposals across Europe; some of them are very young and at their very first experience in filmmaking. Social discomfort, painful yet dreamy adolescence, ardor and violence of diversity, the quest for existential meaning of life in circumstances of affective deprivation; love and its various forms, the Caritas branch, Maturity claiming Eros and, finally, the old worn-out systemic wisdom that, by traveling beyond space and time, behind the notes of an old Kurdish song, tunes back to its stolen love. These are the themes of strong emotion filmmaking, deeply rooted in neurobiology and having social value, which is clearly defined by the cultures they refer to and which quenches its thirst at the sources of Art.
Protagonist of European Cinema: BERTRAND TAVERNIER
What is fascinating and deep about France is perfectly reflected in Bertrand Tavernier and in his dynamic and unpredictable cinema without rules, organic, heterogeneous, caustic in nature. His acuity, knowledge, curiosity, enthusiasm, non-academic culture and distrust make him a vibrant witness of the century in which creativity and destruction manifest the same power. His whole existence in the world is political in nature, by leading a republican struggle for the affirmation of human rights. He is able to create films that neither dominant nor marginal ideology can paralyze or alienate. From the very beginning of his career, supported by a solid film culture, this great director has created, by using efficient narrative devices, a cinema of truth which analyzes, with a great sense of detail, life in the province, generation confrontation as well as people’s difficulty in finding their roots. At a time of rapid evolutions and new scenarios, the protagonists keep roaming, individual destinies are never defined, questions have no answers, which the audience will be ruminating on, while sharing with the director his wandering experience. A ruthless cinema, very sweet, active, artistically pronged, illuminated by the splendor of its beautiful music and by the relationship between the images. A cinema of dream in which reality is bare, a sign of cultural and professional maturity and responsibility. Bertrand will be awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the upcoming Venice Film Festival in September 2015; the verses of Nazim Hikmet played by Nathalie Baye in A Holiday Week seems well suited to him: “I gaze at the night through the bars / and despite all the walls weighing on my chest / my heart palpitates looking at the farthest star”.
Protagonist of European Cinema: FATIH AKIN
Fatih Akin is a charismatic and most influential figure of both Turkish-German and new German cinema. Director, screenwriter, producer, actor and DJ, he has produced, since his debut, a ghetto-centered cinema, resulting from political theory and practice of art rather than cultural conflicts or lack of tolerance. His filmmaking is a narrative of the reality around him: enclosed metropolitan neighborhoods populated by large immigrant communities, trying to overcome their limitations and to grab the hegemony of crime in some areas where Turkish police is also operating. The film Head-On, Golden Bear winner at Berlin 2004, is a very accurate analysis of cultural dualism, enhanced by fast and rhythmic editing and by the deliberately “invasive” Turkrapp music, along with violence of the image in which red blood prevails. The Viewer’s sensitivity won’t overlook the author’s need for new bio-political and anthropological perspectives. With his documentary films (which find their higher expression in Crossing the Bridge – The 12 13 Sound of Istanbul) Cinema, which means traveling and discovering, is not confined to narrative, in Akin’s view, but becomes a “learning process”. So the discovery of Istanbul’s musical culture amounts to a discovery of the country’s politics, because behind it you can unveil hidden drugs, the Kurdish issue, religion, the changing role of women. At last, Akin can feel free from the rigidity of narrative structures and make room for Wenders-like stimmung. Today, in Akin’s deep and restless eyes, always interested in Cinema and its history, you can see his search for a new aesthetics that allows him to be both a happy viewer and the author of his works.
Protagonist of Italian Cinema: MILENA VUKOTIC
Instinct, empathy, concentration, define the anatomy of the actress Milena Vukotic, with her temperament, her out of the ordinary art and lifestyle. Her actress dimension, started as pure vocation, immediately became talent within a matrix of high emotional charge that is not built and it is malleable, adhering to the characters she plays, in which the stream of consciousness and memory meet. Representative of soft, fragile Femininity, which sometimes seems to be falling through, Milena has experienced half a century of cinema and theater, giving us a dramatis persona of rare sensitivity and skills. Her mental chastity and her physical frailty have captured directors’ attention: by highlighting them, directors have meant to emphasize the grotesque side of the characters she was cast as.
Protagonist of Italian Cinema: PAOLA CORTELLESI
Basically an icon of Contemporary Social Comedy dealing with the inconsistencies of human existence in a state of estrangement and being trapped in a continuous “cross-reference” game, which appear more real than a constantly changing reality: this is Paola Cortellesi. Her career as an actress stands out for her professionalism acquired through years of studies, practice and theater, radio and television works. She could then enhance her skills within a multilingual dimension by using a variety of expressive registers according to different situations and characters. Physically charming, witty, reserved but not haughty, she elicits empathy and she’s able to fully embody, on the screen, the dichotomous and multifaceted image of contemporary woman.
CINEMA AND REALITY
I Don’t Know Why I Hate You by Filippo Soldi, about homophobic bullying and the research of psychological mechanisms that generate it, about indifference showed by adults. Leviteaccanto by Luciano Toriello is about Immigration / Hospitality ( the festival has been a standard-bearer in the subject since its first editions). The film focuses on the loss of harmony, the eruption of violence, the disintegration of a society that rejects new ethical perspectives and denies immigrants the right to exist in an equal society. The section, well organized in thematic choices, includes the three winners of ArTVision project of Apulia Film Commission Foundation, aimed at cooperation and exchange of new practices in the field of cultural policies in the Adriatic area: Contro natura by Alessandro Piva, Le pareti di vetro by Vito Palmieri, Odissea Dandy by Giuseppe Tandoi.
And then, other festival’s proposals enriching our contemporary film scene are: the three finalists of Mario Verdone Award (Perfidia by Bonifacio Angius; Darker than Midnight by Sebastiano Riso; Last Summer by Leonardo Guerra Seràgnoli), manifesting the high aesthetic and human experience of young Italian directors; the three finalists of Lux Prize (Class Enemy by Rok Bicek, Ida by Pawel Pawlikoski, Girlhood by Céline Sciamma), which are trips into the impenetrable human reason able to cross the linguistic borders of 24 European countries. The thematic and expressive richness of short films enjoy a dedicated room of the festival venue, along with works of students from the National School of Cinema, the excellence of European authors awarded by the European Film Academy, within the section Short Matters, and short films proposed by Emidio Greco Award and puglia show competition. Films in the new section Puglia Show Special (The Ruins of Bysantium by Carlo Michele Schirinzi, The Late Season by Danilo Caputo, Amara by Claudia Mollese, I wish white wings by Chiara Zilli, Highly by Gianni De Blasi), a section identifying love for homeland’s poetry and sociology as the essence of film directors’ aesthetics while shedding light on the rich and varied identity of Salento.