Alberto La Monica

Artistic Director European Film Festival


Twenty years of the European Film Festival: an already long history of passion for the authentic andtimeless value of the art of film, experienced, year after year, in closer and closer contact with those who contribute to the greatness of this art both in our country and in our continent. 

Twenty years marked by the presence of the many Protagonists of Italian and European Cinema who have honoured us by becoming part of this history and entering the hall of fame of the Festival: Carlos Saura,Otar Iosseliani, Theo Angelopoulos, Nikita Mikhalkov, Costa-Gavras, Emir Kusturica, Aki Kaurismäki, MarcoBellocchio, DanisTanović, FerzanÖzpetek, Fatih Akin, Bertrand Tavernier, Krzysztof Zanussi, Nuri BilgeCeylan, Agnieszka Holland, Stephen Frears, Claudia Cardinale, Giancarlo Giannini, Fabrizio Bentivoglio, Virna Lisi, Lucia Bosè, Valeria Golino, Michele Placido, Margerita Buy, Carlo Verdone, Toni Servillo, SergioCastellitto, Francesca Neri, Isabella Ferrari, Paola Cortellesi, Valerio Mastandrea, Elio Germano, Kim RossiStuart, Jasmine Trinca … It would be impossible to mention them all, but undoubtedly each and every one of them have contributed to shape the identity of a festival that relies right on the dialogue with the great exponents of this art, both film authors and actors, to offer a close look at its past evolution and on going transformations, without ever losing sight of the volcanic dynamism of filmmaking.

This twenty-year milestone of the European Film Festival is the result of a challenge faced with perseverance and dedication in a land like Puglia, and particularly Salento,that has been able to benefit from its exchange relationship with the filmmaking art–practically translated into production dynamics and film sets set up on the streets–to find an essential energy, the ability to renew itself, discovering anidentity and a vocation that hide strategic choices, cultural intuitions, ideal visions. The European Film Festival has contributed to all of this through its being one of the first local festivals to look beyond the borders of its own geographical area, by regularly focusing on the topical issues of Europe and on its closerand closer link with the Mediterranean and the Eastern countries, and relying on the crucial link with Apulia Film Commission, the main stake holder, and on the support of Puglia Region, which has never failed to show its interest, but also on the tangible institutional support of the City of Lecce, with which we hope,after the current moment of political transition, to renew, in the years to come, the productive dialogue that has always existed between us and that has made our festival an event of undisputable interest for thetown.

It was right thanks to this productive dialogue with local and national institutions (the General Directorate for Cinema of Mibac and the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia) and with the professional association sin the field (in particular SNGCI, SNCCI and FIPRESCI) that we have been able, over this twenty years, to draw the attention of the Italian and European filmmaking protagonists to Lecce, putting the great currentsocial and artistic issues of both our continent and our country together with the problems of our local community, its emergencies, its traditions, the characters who have shaped its history, always supportingthe projects and passion of the young Apulian filmmakers.

Therefore, we approach this important milestone with a deep awareness of our history, and we are ready to go on with the same spirit of commitment and the same passion for the art of film with which, twenty years ago, Cristina Soldano and I conceived this project and brought it to life.

And we are particularly happy to host, as patroness and patron of this twentieth anniversary, twoextremely prestigious personalities like Stefania Sandrelli and Aleksandr Sokurov: an actress and diva who has influenced the Italian film scene like few others, and a Russian master who has turned the art of film in to an expression of intimate and historical realities characterized by a great a esthetic and human sensibility. The Golden Olive Tree Awards for Career Achievement we will award them as Protagonists of Italian and European Cinema are a sign of gratitude for their work and achievements.

Along with them, other guests of the upcoming edition include Nino Frassica, Paola Minaccioni and Alessandro Siani, protagonists of the section on the New Italian Comedy that, together with the European Comedy section, confirms our constant attention towards a film genre that has always been an audience favourite and played a fundamental role in the history of Italian cinema. And then there are the young filmmakers, on whom we focus with both the Puglia Show Competition and the short film sections (and short films are the object of the Emidio Greco Award), as well as through another crucial moment of the festival: the Mario Verdone Award, which the great film historian’s children, Carlo, Luca and Silvia, have awarded for ten years to an Italian new comer.

All of this, along with the pre-opening events, concerts, meetings, book presentations, photographyexhibitions, and above all the twelve films competing for the Golden Olive Tree-Cristina Soldano Award,which bring to Lecce the most vibrant, powerful and freshest voices of contemporary European cinema,makes our festival, despite its twenty years of history, an event that is deeply rooted in the present and looks forward to the future.

Because these twenty years we are celebrating are just our first twenty years…