Archivi categoria: English version

“FAIRYTALE” BY ALEKSANDR SOKUROV

Article by: Romeo Gjokaj

Translated by: Federica Boatto

The main difference between us and History is that History does not speak, but we force it to do so. What would happen, however, if it looked us in the face, took us by the hand and started making small talk, telling us about its regrets and pipe dreams? This is exactly what Aleksandr Sokurov’s “Fairytale” aims for: to make History speak spontaneously, quietly and with a hint of humour.

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Adolf Hitler, Iosif Stalin, Benito Mussolini and Winston Churchill find themselves reunited in the afterlife, chatting as they wander through a dark, foggy forest, waiting for the gatekeeper to decide whether to let them into heaven. What about the content of these conversations? Despite their different languages, they mock each other while asserting their political and social ideals. Their speeches focus on their private dimension and therefore erase the aura given by their public function and by History itself. Words thus serve as a tool to reconcile the different points of view and as an attempt to overcome the past and the crystallised image we have of these historical figures. Built through archive footage and without the use of deep-fakes or other artificial intelligence tools, the film calls into question the relationship with reality, verisimilitude, memory and the demythologisation of these personalities. This is an objective that could not have been pursued by using actors to replace the faces, bodies and gestures that changed history. Moreover, the voices lent to the protagonists are perfectly given through an excellent lip-sync that breathes life into the faded images shrouded by the misty reminiscence of the past.

Sokurov seeks to make sense of the challenges that mankind is facing nowadays by taking a step back and lingering on the figures who most shaped the reality we know, namely the protagonists of World War II, the main event that eradicated positivist beliefs about human progress. Trying to empathise with figures such as Hitler and Stalin is the arduous task proposed to the viewer, who through this process realises that behind every historical event, even the most terrible and evil, there are men.

“WAR PONY” BY RILEY KEOUGH AND GINA GAMMELL

Written by: Fabio Bertolotto

Translated by: Rebecca Arturo

Presented and competing at the fortieth edition of Torino Film Festival, and already winner of the Camera d’Or at Cannes, competing in the Un Certain Regard section, War Pony marks the directing debut of actress Riley Keough and producer Gina Gammell, featuring an inspiring portrait of the Native American community, directly involved in the making of the film. 

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“LA SCELTA” BY CARLO AUGUSTO BACHSCHMIDT

Article by: Sara Longo

Translated by: Noemi Zoppellaro

It is the 27th of February 2012 when, during the eviction in Chiomonte, Luca Abbà climbs on a high-voltage pylon: the aim is to slow down the operations of expropriation carried out to widen the construction site of the tunnel, of that “great strategic work”, still pending to this day. The contact with the high-voltage cables causes him to fall ten metres. Although unconscious, his body keeps being traversed by electric shocks. He has a punctured lung. He goes into a deep coma.

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“CHIUSURA” BY ALESSANDRO ROSSETTO

Article by: Cristian Cerutti

Translated by: Simone Gasparini

Reviewing Chiusura by Alessandro Rossetti twenty-one years after its release makes the analysis of the film even more arduous. Seeing a world that doesn’t exist anymore and sensing the awareness that the world itself had that it had reached a terminal stage – the end of a millennium and all the fears attached to it – generates in the viewer a mixture of anxiety and tenderness. There is love for a fading past but, concurrently, there is the awareness that not much has changed. Even years later, the province remains a swampy, stagnant place that is difficult to escape from but, through the cinematic image, it simultaneously gains a romantic and fascinating appeal. It is precisely the ability to show this double soul of the province and this gap between fading tradition and advancing modernity that makes Alessandro Rossetto’s cinema great. Chiusura, as said by the director himself, is a film that, years later, has become a reflection of the passing of time.

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The documentary, which has been restored by Istituto Luce under Rossetto’s supervision, follows the closure of Mrs. Flavia’s hair salon after 44 years of activity. The director, an anthropology graduate, carefully examines the small gestures of this world, the words of the inhabitants who inhabit it, and the conflicts which animate it. Alongside this world, there are others: the circus which comes to town and the local women’s soccer team. The observation of these worlds focuses in the same way on the imperceptible rituals and conflicts, and on the personal emotions of the people who inhabit them.

However, hovering over this microcosm is the winter fog, a constant element of the film, which amplifies the feeling of stillness and even of finality, namely the closure of a period that has come to its end. Nevertheless, what stands out is the beauty of these elements and real cinema’s ability to give charm to the things of ordinary life. The feeling of paralysis transcends and becomes beauty: personal gestures, words and speeches become captivating and fascinating in the eyes of the viewer.

Elapsed time thus amplifies the experience of viewing Chiusura, to which the reflections on time and the end of an era are added in retrospect to a period that has now passed, but whose emotions and feelings remain incredibly vivid.

“NAGISA” BY KOGAHARA TAKESHI

Article by: Emidio Sciamanna

Translated by: Cora Bruno

Nagisa, a debut feature film by Japanese director Kogahara Takeshi, can be interpreted as a complex and layered attempt to reframe a bond, to redefine that thin filament that connects the body of those who survive and the increasingly evanescent memory of those who are no longer with us. The world that is portrayed is thus the result of a blurred mental condition, a set of indistinct reenactments created by the mind of a boy detached from reality.

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The protagonist is Fuminao, a Tokyo boy tormented by guilt over the death of his younger sister Nagisa, who died three years earlier in a bus accident on her way to visit her brother. One night, the boy accompanies his friend Yuki to visit a tunnel that, according to some popular beliefs, appears to be haunted by ghosts. In this mysterious and gloomy place, he will again face his past, his origins, until he relives in his mind the intense relationship with his missing sister. The film is basically a reprise of a homonymous short film by Kogahara himself in 2017, in which the two main characters, again Fuminao and Nagisa, are two young people in love. The adolescent “love story” of the former is thus contrasted, in this second work, with the memory of a deceased person and the reminder of the faint sigh of death, in a mad dance involving Eros and Thanatos until they become part of the same being.

The protagonist’s apathy, as well as the alienation that affects his existence, arise from the strong trauma triggered by the loss of a loved one. For this reason, the young man’s life is constantly punctuated by mechanical movements and continuous silences, depicted through the use of repeated and interminable fixed shots. The story is fragmented, not at all linear, as if every shred of memory spontaneously resurfaces when Fuminao savors certain physical or emotional sensations. This makes the film a real labyrinth with no way out, a puzzle in which, at times, it is difficult to understand the meaning of certain events.

At the end of this enigmatic existential journey, there are many questions that arise, raising more doubts than answers in the protagonist’s mind. “Do ghosts really exist?” the boy hesitantly asks a policeman he meets by chance outside the tunnel. The man’s answer will come only after a long and ostentatious silence: “The ghost is you.” It is those who have remained anchored in the past, unable to continue a normal life, like a woman wandering the streets in search of her missing son, who represent the real ghosts of society.

“SHE SAID” BY MARIA SCHRADER

Written by: Yulia Neproshina

Translated by: Rebecca Arturo

The unbearable weight of manipulative ambiguity, unfounded guilt, and complicit silences. Maria Schrader’s new film, out of the competition at the 40th edition of the Torino Film Festival, is a protest against Harvey Weinstein that unleashes the desire to cry out that women have been deprived of for so long, and thereby redeems the right to their voice.

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A young woman at the very start of her career, her soul bursting with dreams and her eyes full of naive hope, is overcome by a request as unexpected as it is inappropriate just when she was planning to attend a business meeting. “He ripped out my voice that day, just as I was starting to find it,” discloses Laura Madden, confessing her years-long belief that she was the only one who did not have the strength to stand up to the harassment from the powerful and feared Miramax producer. Laura was far from alone, but her persecutor was for a long time protected by a well-established system that systematically and scrupulously shielded the offenders. New York Times’ reporters Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) and Jodi Kantor (Zoe Zakan) undertook an investigative enquiry to expose the harassment and sexual abuse committed by Weinstein, who had crossed not only professional boundaries, but also national borders, committing countless abuses overseas. 

The She Said crew is well aware that they are telling a true story and do not allow room for unnecessary violence, to which women are already abundantly exposed.

Weinstein’s towering physical presence is rendered by the oral testimonies of women who describe episodes in which he holds the unmistakable authority of the perpetrator. At the same time, his voice is emblematic, as we hear it in voice over, as violent and arrogant as the suffocating agreements he induced his victims to sign, ‘legally’ depriving them of their dignity. We retrace, guided by these testimonies, the spaces from which they would have so much wanted to escape, as in a nightmare from which they were not allowed to awaken. This film, however, also wants to be a safe space for all the women involved in order to express themselves and share their grief and anger. First and foremost, Megan and Jodi, that we follow far beyond the investigative processes and that Maria Schrader reveals to us with great sensitivity and respect. The cooperation and supervision of those directly involved and their permission to enter into each other’s private lives were undoubtedly essential to achieve the goal of producing a film that resonates strongly and encourages women to trust each other.

BACK TO LIFE: THE RETURN OF ITALIAN POLAR

Article by: Davide Troncossi

Translated by: Maria Bellantoni

TFF40’s Back to life section dedicated to film restoration proposed a diptych of particular interest on Italian polar, restoring two of its rare gems to their original splendour. Made at a distance of time and with different characteristics, the two films are united by the cold reception they received from critics and audiences at the time of their release and then rose to cult movie status.

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Milano calibro 9 (1972) today represents not only the pinnacle of Fernando Di Leo’s career, but also the only Italian polar film of the period able to hold its own against the vaunted American and European crime films (between 1970 and 1972, masterpieces such as Friedkin’s The French Connection, Melville’s Le Cercle Rouge and Hodges’ Carter were released). And we would be talking about perfection if it were not for the Manichaeism of some scenes between the commissioner (Wolff) and his deputy (Pistilli) imbued with cheap socio-political rhetoric.

The restoration presented by the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia – Cineteca Nazionale has the great merit of restoring the overlays of the hours and days wanted by the director for the cyclical development of the plot (the title that was originally chosen was “Da lunedì a lunedì“) and of restoring the right visual and sound polish to the events of Rocco (Adorf), Nelly (Bouchet) and, above all, Ugo Piazza (a granitic Moschin), the victim, or diabolical architect, of a violent redde rationem in the organised underworld of Milan (this will become clear in the finale with a splendid triple act). The digital copy enhances the masterful direction aimed at dictating the tight rhythm (Di Leo himself, without modesty, stated “no one in Europe, apart from Melville, had the grit of an American cut that I had”) and the faithfulness of the screenplay to Scerbanenco’s anthology of hard-boiled tales from which it is based.

The picture of the acknowledged progenitor of the Italian-style detective film is completed by the neo-realist setting in which a gallery of extraordinary pulp characters act (Tarantino, by his own admission, will draw on this with full force), the pressing music by Bacalov and Osanna, and the creeping underlying determinism.

Nevertheless, one has to shift to Turin thirty years later for the other submerged and ‘cursed’ neo-noir.

Tre punto sei (2003), the debut and only feature film by the late Nicola Rondolino (son of the well-known film critic and historian Gianni), due to a series of production and distribution issues, it required a delicate recovery operation by Cinecittà, the National Cinema Museum of Turin and Augustus Color, who aimed at overcoming the obstacle of the absence of an original negative.

A versatile and much-loved figure in his hometown, who died prematurely in 2013, Rondolino immediately demonstrated an uncommon talent in his debut picture (but only few noticed it), bending genre clichés into a narrative that is not ordinary thanks to a contemporary style composed of dizzying ellipses, telluric action scenes and meaningful dramaturgical moments of clashes between the different characters. The vivid coherence of the multi-ethnic criminal imagery set in the Turin neighbourhood of San Salvario strikes a chord, avoiding the traps of the most retrograde racial prejudices, while the intense Binasco stands out in the role of the corrupt policeman madly in love with the woman contended by his best friend (a darker-than-ever Giallini), a disillusioned gangster in the service of a sui generis drug clan (an interesting experiment in quotations from The Sopranos).

The rediscovery of Tre punto sei is therefore a necessary step in the 40th anniversary of the festival that saw Rondolino as selector for a long time, regretting what he could have given to our cinema.

“UNREST” BY CYRIL SCHÄUBLIN

Article by: Sara Longo

Translated by: Rachele Pollastrini

“After spending a few weeks with the watchmakers, my views on socialism were resolved: I was an anarchist.” With this sentence by Pyotr Kropotkin extracted from his Memoirs of a Revolutionary (1877), director Cyril Schäublin decided to start his second feature film ‘Unrest’ in which, by reconstructing the events of 1870, he recounts how the independence of thought of the artisans in the Jura Mountains ignited the spark for the birth of the international anarchist movement.

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“PACIFICTION” BY ALBERT SERRA

Article by: Irma Benedetto

Translated by: Alice Bettinelli

When approaching the work of Albert Serra, we cannot help but notice the great contradiction at the heart of his cinema: that between the setting of his images, which nestle in the past of the European history (from the 1980s of his debut film to the 1700s French – his favourite historical period – of La mort de Louis XIV and Liberté) and the sense of atrophy, of an absolute and out-of-time present that apocalyptically pervades his characters, always waiting for a climax that will never come, or that perhaps has already arrived.

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A spasmodic wait for the end that becomes nuclear paranoia for a Benoît Magimel called to play the ambiguous protagonist of Pacifiction, a diplomatic commissioner who has arrived in the former French colony of Tahiti to try to investigate unsettling rumours of an imminent resumption of dangerous atomic tests. Serra works on the extreme stylisation and opacity of the characters and on the exhibited artificiality of lights – as was already the case in the unforgettable finale of Liberté – to create a highly suggestive visual texture, a floating and uncertain space in which it is possible to perceive the abstraction of power in all its ruthless and pervasive senselessness. It is between half-voices and hints that the protagonist De Roller – designated intermediary between the politicians and the population – probes the island moving as if in a limbo – a somnambulist wandering in what seems to be an only-apparent state of life. The viewer is restrained in the hypnotic movement of the film, which concedes few clues and casts wide, unresolved grey areas, constantly moving to an unknowable off-screen that weights like an omen.

To duplicate and amplify the feeling of threat that travels under the skin, there is the eerie presence of the ocean, which with its surface engulfs and conceals. De Roller is driven by a desire for clarity that will never become tangible reality. In the most important dialogue-monologue of the film, the protagonist talks about a world that has lost the conception of time and memory, of a humanity that must have as its primary need that to illuminate, to see the withered skins of power that have already been embodied by the exposed and dying body of Jean-Pierre Léaud in La mort de Louis XIV. With Pacifiction, Serra continues his work on the perception of the present and the invisible decomposition of a frozen and motionless time, aiming his gaze for the first time at contemporaneity.

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“LA PIEDAD” BY EDUARDO CASANOVA

Article by: Romeo Gjokaj

Translated by: Rita Brigante

When Mateo (Manel Llunell) is diagnosed with brain cancer, his mother Libertad (Ángela Molina) gets the chance she was looking for: Mateo is now harmless, in need of care and attention that only she can give him. Eduardo Casanova proposes an Oedipal love story with his second full-length-film “La piedad”, presented in competition at the 40th edition of Torino Film Festival.

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Mateo never leaves home without his mother, they sleep together in the same bed, and whenever one of them gets sick, both of them experience symptoms. Their personalities are blended to the point that they sometimes get swapped or one merges with the other; they laugh, cry, and suffer together. Mateo was born to satisfy his mother’s need to be essential for someone. What scares Libertad is the prospect that one day her son will grow up and be independent, take a bath on his own, and leave home. She wants him to stay in their little bubble in which she breastfeeds him and nurtures him forever, even though he is a grown man. The relationship between mother and son is compared with the parallel story set in North Korea, where dictator and subject cannot live without each other. Firstly, Mateo’s absent father plays the tyrant’s role, as he appears in Mateo’s dreams in the place of di Kim Jong-un while killing a unicorn, but the son will soon realize that the real cause of his discomfort his is mother.

As it is true with his first work, Skins (2017), Casanova is not scared of showing images that bring cinema back to pure visual art, building a voyeuristic relationship among the viewers that ask themselves whether they want to keep looking at the screen or not. The colour pink dominates the scene, exposing and dissecting the characters’ unspeakable secrets. They lose their humanity and become torn, sick pieces of flesh. The director is much interested in psychic anomalies rather than physical ones. Therefore, Casanova investigates the result of the combination of two psychic disorders: firstly, the Münchausen syndrome by proxy is the syndrome which leads Libertad to keep her son in a sickly stage by secretly drugging him, and secondly, the Stockholm syndrome that leads Mateo back to his tormentor, his mother. The son’s Oedipus complex, which makes him hate his father (whom he replaces) without even knowing him, contributes to the couple’s toxicity. Moreover, even though his mother is the cause of all his misfortunes, Mateo cannot survive without her, since he does not conceive anything except the morbid love that has accompanied him from birth.

“THE PLAINS” BY DAVID EASTEAL

Article by: Enrico Nicolosi

Translated by: Giuliano Gisotti

The Plains, David Easteal’s first feature film, is the Australian filmmaker’s experimental attempt to faithfully reconstruct his time spent in the car of Andrew Rakowski, a lawyer in his 50s returning home at the end of his workday in Melbourne’s outer suburbs. A work that eludes definition, a radical, yet malleable cinema verité.

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“LA LUNGA CORSA” BY ANDREA MAGNANI 

Article by: Romeo Gjokaj

Translated by: Niccolò Sereno

The oyster that remains attached to the rock on which it was birthed by fate will live peacefully. The oyster that instead ventures into the unknown in search of fortune can only end up swallowed by the ocean. This is the so-called “Ideal of the Oyster”, which is essential in the events of “I Malavoglia” by Giovanni Verga and of “La Lunga Corsa”, the second movie by director Andrea Magnani and the only Italian feature film in competition at the fortieth edition of the Turin Film Festival. 

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Giacinto (Adriano Tardiolo) was born and raised in prison, the only environment he recognizes as home during his training process. Abandoned by his parents, he is looked after by prison guard Jack (Giovanni Calcagno), who becomes his figure of reference. However, Jack would like Giacinto to go out and make a living away from the bars and narrow corridors through which the boy enjoys running despite it being forbidden. Thus, he takes him to a family house which, however, is more of a prison for the child than the prison itself. As soon as he gets the chance, he runs away and attacks a man to get arrested and be able to go “home”, but he discovers that children cannot go to prison. So, he tries again on his eighteenth birthday. Jack understands that Giacinto will never change his mind and has him hired as a guard in the penitentiary, which thus becomes a place of work, lodging and recreation for him.

If “Easy – Un viaggio facile facile” (2017), Magnani’s first work, was a classic road movie, here instead a static journey is presented: Giacinto runs for hours but never moves, he remains inside his miniature “Matrix”, preferring the blue pill to the red one (colors that, among other things, are recurrent in the film). He wants to stay locked up in his cave because he sees nothing interesting in the frenetic stillness that pervades the exterior, where people seem to do nothing but run aimlessly between circling buses and construction sites that have been standing still for years. 

Jack tries to get Giacinto to escape from what he sees as a mental cage without realizing that he himself is the first of the prisoners chained to a life that doesn’t satisfy him and from which he tries to escape by drinking in the evening. Giacinto doesn’t run to escape or to win a race; he runs to run, unlike those like Jack who would like to flee, but stand still in their perpetual unhappiness.

“IL CORPO DEI GIORNI” BY SANTABELVA 

Artcle by: Nicolò Pilon

Translated by: Rachele Pollastrini 

Thanks to the Covid-19 emergency a lifer finds himself in a situation of greater freedom when compared to that experienced by many others. In Il corpo dei giorni much more is revealed, thanks to this paradox. Santabelva collective meets the lifer Mario Tuti, one of the protagonists of the neo-fascist terrorism in the 1970s, in an unexpected situation. Interesting starting points arise from this confrontation, both historically and cinematically.

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“VIENS JE T’EMMÈNE” BY ALAIN GUIRAUDIE

Article by: Federico Lionetti

Translated by: Anna Polimeni

In the theory of pre-established social relations, the practice of affection allows one to unhinge the certainties on which one individual bases his or her relationship with the other. Life is a tumult of unexpected encounters, of ephemeral and transitory desires, of painful external interferences and accidental impediments: men must get used to the mutability of life, making themselves and their desires as inconstant as the unpredictable circumstances of reality.

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“SILVER BIRD AND RAINBOW FISH” BY LEI LEI

Article by: Marco di Pasquale

Translated by: Noemi Zoppellaro

In recent years, documentary cinema has exploited animation for intimate and personal narratives capable of giving a fresh insight into complex historical events. Films such as Waltz with Bashir (Ari Folman, 2008) or Samouni Road (Stefano Savona, 2018) discussed with a microscopic look events of enormous magnitude in an attempt to understand their profound nature. Through the memories of both his grandfather and father animated in stop motion, director Lei Lei retraces the difficult years of his family, divided by the Cultural Revolution in Maoist China.

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The structure of Silver Bird and Rainbow Fish effectively reflects the fragmented nature of historical memory. The animation, indeed, consists of hand-moulded plasticine, newspaper pages, old photographs and illustrations from the propaganda of the time, combined in a collage of different styles and languages. The images generated from this mixture are not just an artistic re-elaboration of what is narrated off-screen. The voices of the relatives interviewed by the director often linger, take long pauses or are interrupted as the memories become less clear. It is precisely in these moments of emptiness, of repressed memory, that the animation shows its evocative power, transcending the historical narrative through references to Chinese fantastic imagery and mythology.

Like the images, the narration is structured on several levels as well, in a temporal collage covering almost thirty years of History, through the voices and points of view of three generations: the director’s, his father’s, and his grandfather’s, interviewed ten years earlier. These overlapping temporal planes correspond to the various materials used in the documentary. If the plasticine moulded by Lei Lei’s hands represents contemporaneity and his imaginative, ironic and changing point of view, the photographs and newspaper clippings are the faded remains of a vanished world.

Throughout the film the author reminds us several times, in a variety of ways, that what we are seeing is but one of the endless possible visions of what happened, filtered by the experiences of the various members of the family and the director himself, who imagined the events with his artistic sensibility and a contemporary eye. It’s impossible to restore a complete image of the past, but it is for this very reason that small stories like that of the Lei family are so important and worthy of being told.

“RODEO” BY LOLA QUIVORON

Article by: Cristian Cerutti

Translated by: Benedetta Francesca De Rossi

“I think one of the great subjects of the film is Julia’s body […] I was obsessed with the idea that it was her female body that created the narrative” Lola Quivoron

To deny the name we are given at birth is to open the door to an endless series of new possibilities and expectations. This continuous denial and reshaping of identity is what Julia, the protagonist of Rodeo by Lola Quivoron, presented in competition at the 40th edition of the Torino Film Festival, pursues.

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Julia, who grew up in a deprived environment on the outskirts of Paris, finds her chance to escape from herself through her passion for motorbikes and for rodeos, a term that identifies dangerous clandestine events in the world of motorcycling where riders perform stunt-like evolutions. It is precisely at one of these events that the incident from which the story starts occurs: during a rodeo in which Julia participates with one of the many motorbikes she steals during the film, Abra – the only one to have shown any sympathy for the girl – dies in an accident. From this point begins the difficult grieving process that develops in both Julia’s psychic and social dimensions: Abra, who constantly returns in Julia’s dreams after his death, leaves a vacancy in the group of bikers (all male) to which he belonged, the B-More.

Julia then steps into this void by climbing the hierarchies and beginning a classic journey of rise and fall of the protagonist. It is precisely the way Julia climbs the hierarchies of the group that is the most interesting element of Rodeo: in fact, the protagonist introduces herself by denying her previous identity and identifying herself as ‘The Stranger’. This absence of identity allows her to perform different roles and behaviours in the various situations in which she finds herself, assuming different guises and a chameleon-like, undefinable identity. She is thus transformed into an elusive figure, a character who is difficult to pigeonhole both in her behaviour and in her gender affiliation, a figure who continually unsettles the people around her. A key element in these transformations is precisely the protagonist’s body, which constantly modifies itself and changes its outward appearance depending on the situation and the people around it.

This work on the body makes the film a work of flesh, blood, dirt and motors and gives it a fascinating visual dimension that points to an almost physical involvement of the spectator, an almost fashionable dimension in which much space is given to the link between rap music and motors.

“A TALE OF FILIPINO VIOLENCE” BY LAV DIAZ

Article by: Alessandro Pomati

Translation by: Ana Paula Da Silva Costa

The Philippines, 1973. The Monzon family, one of the country’s most prominent industrial dynasties, is facing a dramatic transition. Their elderly patriarch, Servando Monzon III, is dying from pancreatic cancer and his heir, his grandson Servando VI, is tasked with running the family sugar plantations under Fernando Marcos bloody repressive regime. Their destiny will eventually cross that of a young serial murderer sentenced to death.

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Lav Diaz’s intention seems clear right from the opening credits: to make, as he himself states, a “novel-film” from the family saga of the same name by Filipino author Ricardo Lee.

Presented out of competition at the 79th annual Venice International Film Festival, the film takes up many literary topoi: the high-ranking lineage of the family that is centrepiece of the story, a historical background more or less influencing the choices of the protagonists, a tormented love between members of different classes and family secrets that will be revealed as the narrative goes on. Diaz elaborates all this through a style that has made him popular among film buffs all over the world over: black and white photography, fixed shots, and dilated time frames.

Yet, for the most part, it is the story rather than the way in which it is told that dominates the scene. A tale of ‘Filipino violence’ indeed, focusing on the bloody events in which the Monzons played a role over the centuries, and that do not seem to find an end. Diaz’s direction, although immediately recognisable, is almost invisible as it is put at the service of the story, its linearity, the melodramatic tone of the events embodied by characters and density of happenings.

However, in certain moments – ‘few’, actually, considering its seven hours of duration – the personality of the director emerges in silent, intimate, and nocturnal contemplative moments, poetic, fresh and almost unrelated to the narration, but above all in his attention to the history of his own country, the true protagonist. Through what at first glance would appear to be post-production oversights, such as sudden dips and rises in the audio, out-of-sync, rustling microphones on clothes, Diaz gives substance to the cracks in history letting them creep in amidst the rigorous images. And it is precisely these ‘out-of-tune’ sounds that make of this film an echo of the true lives of those men and women who inspired this tale.

“IPERSONNIA” BY ALBERTO MASCIA

Article by: Marco di Pasquale

Translated by: Arianna Deiro

The dystopian narrative, which became popular in 20th century literature and cinema, has always been an effective tool to analyse and discuss contemporary society’s problems and changes. Alberto Mascia, with his movie Ipersonnia, takes the topics which in the past years have generated intense debates in Italy and puts them in a near future. The high crime rate and the severe overcrowding in Italian prisons have pushed politicians towards an extreme solution: turning prison sentences into years of forced sleep.

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David Damiani (Stefano Accorsi) is a psychologist whose job consists in periodically waking up inmates to monitor their mental health. The forced sleep takes a toll especially on the convicts’ brain, as they find it hard to distinguish dream from reality. Ipersonnia is based on such dichotomy and the movie’s atmosphere draws inspiration from films such as eXistenz (Cronenberg – 1999) or Memento (Nolan – 2000). The dreamlike element directly correlates to psychoanalysis and its immoral use combined with technology. Due to a brainwave inhibitor, the inmate is vulnerable while the psychologist can insert all kind of ideas in his mind, even potentially convincing him of being guilty of crimes he did not commit. Therefore, Ipersonnia presents a new and interesting interpretation of the “transplants” of ideas carried out by the protagonists of Inception (Nolan – 2010). While in Nolan’s movie the manipulation only took place in the dreamlike worlds created by people’s minds, in Ipersonnia the process happens while they are awake, through psychanalysis. Technological advance, combined with psychotherapy, allows for the destruction of all the barriers of the unconscious and sleep simply becomes a moment of stasis and imprisonment. Despite all the thematical and narrative suggestions, the style of the director remains inert, in function of a simpler understanding of the events of the film.

Prison overcrowding, justice and its problematic implementation are important issues of our society that are hinted at by the film, but are relegated to the background. The narrative turns mostly to conspiracy theories and to the deterioration of the power which is trying to take control of the citizen’s minds. Ipersonnia is part of the recent attempt by Italian productions to make the public interested in genre film once again. Such attempt is perhaps lacklustre in its comparison with dystopia, which would require a critical and in-depth analysis of such current and relevant issues, both in its content and in its form.

“FALCON LAKE” BY CHARLOTTE LE BON

Article by: Marta Faggi

Translated by: Sara Borraccino

On the shore of their lake, Chloé (Sara Montpetit) asks Bastien (Joseph Engel) what his greatest fear is: the boy smiles with a shrug and replies that it is masturbating in front of mom and dad. In tears Chloé confesses then her own: “I think my greatest fear is to be lonely all my life.”

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Charlotte Le Bon, in her directorial debut, plumbs the age of adolescence by telling the story of a summer interlude at the lake. To do so, she draws heavily from the graphic novel Una Sorella (Bao Publishing, 2018) by french author Bastien Vivès, in which we find a recollection of all the ambivalences of the early youthful desires. Falcon Lake focuses on the mutual attraction between the two main characters. Chloé is a 16-year-old girl who tries so hard to act like an adult even when she’d rather press pause on everything. It might be this nature of hers that drives her to seek out Bastien, who’s two years younger than her and is openly inexperienced and subjugated by the charm of her ostentatious and constructed confidence. The two kids are immortalized in their purest naiveté as they awkwardly discover each other’s bodies. In the background, the actual adults, the parents. In Una Sorella, Vivès never depicts their faces, because that story is not theirs. And Le Bon reproposes this choice in her own language, the language of film: the parents are relegated off-screen, the faces unseen, with only their voice as a testament of presence.

In the last act, Le Bon, also the author of the screenplay, detaches her work from the one her feature film is based on. The ending she chose for the male protagonist is symbolic of the core of adolescence itself, an age spent on the edge between life and death. “There are ghosts who do not know they are dead,” and it is these ghosts, with their desires, who make up our youth. The two kids live their experiences in an absolute and fatalistic way, without the emotional processing typical of those who have already gone through adolescence and emerged unscathed.

Falcon Lake does not stray very far from coming-of-age narrative clichés. Despite that, the director creates a space of rigorous representation in which the anxieties and discoveries of adolescence alternate, within which the viewer can find themselves and their own experience.

“COMA” BY BERTRAND BONELLO

Article by: Fabio Bertolotto

Translated by: Laura Todeschini

‘Dear Anna, this is not the first time I have addressed you in this way’. It is with these words that Bertrand Bonello’s latest film begins. Words which pave the way to an open letter full of love and sensitivity addressed to his teenage daughter. The director had already tried to communicate with the girl through the cinema with Nocturama (2016). Some images of this film appear at the beginning of Coma in a confused montage that turns the frames into pure abstraction. The previous effort to get in touch with his daughter had been unsuccessful, since she had not seen the film. For this reason, Bonello tries again, making a more intimate, personal and, at the same time, universal work that addresses his daughter and also new generations.

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