Lurking in the shadows of a social pessimism and often embodied by the human values of science and justice, the search for rationality takes the ruthless and tragic shape of a great evil, which is a demon that feeds itself with collective discrimination and mutual hate. The second full-length film by Han Dong-seok, The Sin, presented in the category “Crazies” of the 41st edition of Torino Film Festival, suggests a crazy concept of the original sin, where fear and the obsessive desire of revenge insinuate in the mechanic physicality of multiple moving bodies.
In this edition of the Turin Film Festival, characterized by a surreal, sci-fi and horror atmosphere and a need to escape reality, “Ex-Husbands” – presented out of competition – is a film that instead focuses on the real world.
The last important guest of the 41st edition of Torino Film Festival is the American director Oliver Stone, who will be awarded with Premio Stella della Mole. He will hold a masterclass and present his latest documentary Nuclear Now, which leads the audience to reflect about the contradictions and paradoxes of humankind in his typically blunt and direct style. The film takes its inspiration from the arguments of the book A Bright Future: How Some Countries Have Solved Climate Change and the Rest Can Follow by Joshua S. Goldstein, a leading expert on international relations, war and society, energy and climate change. The authors’ obvious intentions are to explain that nuclear energy can be a solution to climate change and the challenges putting a strain on human survival on the planet.
An elderly painter climbs the steep cliff face of Brittany’s coastline, wearing worn-out clothes and holding his palette, easel and brushes in hand. Upon reaching a secluded grotto, he is free to express his imagination against the stunning coastal backdrop. This is the opening scene of Barbet Schroeder’s latest documentary, Ricardo et la peinture (“Ricardo and painting”), which premiered Out of Competition at the 41st Turin Film Festival.
During the elections in 2012 in Georgia, the Party’s candidate Mikheil Saak’ashvili of “United National Movement” promises free dental visits to all citizens over the age of 50. He does not limit himself to promises, in fact he hires teams of dentists tasked with restoring the smiles of his potential voters. At the end of the two-month campaign, however, Mikheil will lose the election, leaving citizens with half surgery done, but with no teeth. Eight years later, director Luka Beradze decides to go to one of the regions most affected by this electoral cataclysm, where he will find the Innominatovillage, in the municipality of Chiaturi.
In Cambio Cambio (“Change Change”), one of the movies presented out of competition in the “Nuovi Sguardi Argentini” (“New Argentinian Perspectives”) section at the 41st Torino Film Festival, Lautaro García Candela paints a picture of Generation Z in a post-pandemic Argentina, somewhere between a thriller and a love story.
In the oneiric world of Al (Francesco Gheghi), the single most important thing is to make his bed every morning. This is because accomplishing the first task of the day will motivate him to achieve subsequent goals. Inspired by what Admiral McRaven said in his famous speech, Al adds that it is in a properly tucked-in bed that good dreams are born. Too bad there are no blankets to tuck into in the hot, suffocating Rome where he lives.
The sea, a mound of earth and some buildings are the opening images of Anulloje Ligjin, a documentary that talks about the mysterious reality of a country which has been isolated from the rest of the European continent for 40 years. Albania, in this film, is shown in all its desolation and inconsistencies, but also in its profound creative energy and resistance.
After the credits of Birth, which was screened in competition at the 41st Torino Film Festival, the clatter of computer keys cannot halt. Jay (Han Hae-in) is a promising young, talented writer, undoubtedly ambitious, not fearful at all and encouraged by the career path she decided to pursue. She cannot and does not know how to do anything else. Jay’s partner Geonwoo (Lee Han-ju) is an English teacher at a private institute who seems content to live in his girlfriend’s shadow, helping her as best he can and giving up his own individual happiness. An uneven love story, only seemingly stable, but, in fact, deeply unhealthy. Their balance is challenged when she discovers she is pregnant, despite the continued use of contraceptives.
Rosa’s (Rosa Berder) last night before leaving for Montréal is an unforgettable party. The girl must leave all her friends and move to Canada, perhaps to become a great dancer. But goodbyes are never easy and the night offers Rosa a chance to stop time to savor every sip of beer, every drag of a cigarette, and the warmth of the last day of summer. The meeting place is a large boulder in the middle of a beach, affectionately known as “the island”; here her friends set up a sort of farewell ritual, consisting of alcoholic challenges, seaweed battles and bathing in the sea. Rosa lives her last evening as if it were truly the last of her life without ever drowning in memories, but rather trying to recreate new ones that can last forever.
It is a customary practice in Crotone for young men to build a wooden pyramid to set fire in honour of St. Lucy on December 13th. Cooperation becomes a prerequisite for winning the friendly and traditional competition that takes place every year among the town districts to see who can build the highest and most impressive fire. “We must ensure that our Jesus Fund gets published in newspapers, and nobody else.” Even if the press won’t pay attention to them, the story of the Jesus Fund community will be told in Lux Santa (“Holy light”). This film, directed by Matteo Russo and presented as part of the 41st Turin Film Festival’s Italian documentary competition, sheds light on their experiences.
From the beginning, the director Ali Kalthami explains to the audience the double connotation of the Arabic word “Mandoob”, which means “courier” but also “a person pitied for his misery and tragic end”. Mandoob – Night Courier – part of the feature film competition of the 41st edition of Torino Film Festiva – turns the same double meaning of the word into an ambiguous thriller connotated by a strong sense of humor, which shows the power of desperation in the protagonist’s misadventures.
Kalak’s Greenland is endless. The deep fjord inlets are topped by steep, snow-capped mountain walls. Kulusuk is a small village in East Greenland, made up of a few isolated houses with sloping roofs and bright colors. Jan (Emil Johnsen) takes refuge in Kulusuk with his wife and children, after life in Nuuk has become intolerable. This is not the first time Jan has run away from something: before living in Greenland, he lived in Denmark with his father. He always runs away from himself and his past, in a stressed search for a sense of belonging and community.
A documentary about young people for young people, I 400 giorni: funamboli e maestri (“The 400 days: funambulists and masters”) shows the (first) 400 days in the professional life of twenty-four young actors and actresses from all around Italy. This documentary film shows how they share fears, expectations, interests and hopes, like young Antoine does – the protagonist of the famous film The 400 Blows by François Truffaut, who not by chance is commemorated here.
The topic of motherhood has been and still is often addressed in cinema through the most diverse perspectives and sensibilities. Anglo-American filmmaker Savanah Leaf’s approach stands out in the contemporary landscape for its unique freshness and delicacy, making her Earth Mama – based on the short documentary The Heart Still Hums, co-directed with Taylor Russell – an extraordinarily powerful debut feature film.
Stefan (Stefan Gota), is a Romanian mason who suffers from insomnia, shaggy-faced and always wearing shorts. ShuXiu (Liyo Gong), is a lively Chinese biologist, sweet-eyed and often absorbed in her work. Both wander in a nocturnal Brussels and in its surroundings, between the long shots of under-construction buildings and details of mosses and windblown trees; they wander, get lost and find each other in a contemporary world, a biome in which the relationship of dependency between human and nature progresses into a stable understanding.
For his 8th feature-length film, La Práctica (“The practice”), Martín Rejtman leaves his beloved Argentina for neighbouring Chile. The main character, Gustavo (Esteban Bigliardi), goes through a journey that is similar to a spiritual retreat trying to reconnect with meditative yoga. Both the director and the main character – who is sort of an alter ego of his creator – will see their innovative dreams clash with reality. As it often happens in the Argentinian director’s films, whatever happens to the helpless characters doesn’t really have a substantial effect in their lives.
A woman stands beyond a net, armed with a rifle, peering into the empty pool below where a caged tiger, the pet of a gangster, lies.
This marks the beginning of Andrei Tănase’s film, developed as part of the TorinoFilmLab 2019 which globally premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2023. The opening scene introduces the two main characters, their connection is evident through the first frames.
What’s left of Sofia (Sofia Tomic) are clothes, laid out as if they were laundry hanging in the sun. What’s left of Sofia is the carving of a heart on a tree, the sound of a thud in the water, and the echo of a dog barking in the face of an irreparable choice. Even Sofia’s tattoo drawings survive, failing to fulfil the uncomfortable situation she ended up herself in. Actually, Sofia’s past and the memory of her last wanderings, are sealed in Sofia Foi, the debut feature film by Brazilian director Pedro Geraldo.
«Can we stay like this for a while?» says Sofia, sure that she no longer has to fear her vulnerability, because she finally has a person in front of her who can understand her fragility. A fictitious safety that is swept away by an outbreak of yellow fever, which turns Sofia’s life into a long tunnel where absence and the rumbling of death dominate.
Marinaleda by Louis Séguin, and Michel Vay by Nicolas Deschuyteneer and Patricia Gélise – two medium-length films presented at the Turin Film Festival in the Crazies section – address the road movie genre in opposite ways. In the former, the journey is a collective experience and becomes a pretext for enjoying the pleasure of sharing; in the latter, the journey is depicted as a metaphorical, intimate and private experience of the passage from an earthly dimension to a transcendent one. Marinaleda is a “political” road movie in which two vampires hitchhike from France to Spain to reach the town of Marinaleda, where a communist administration is in force. Amid new acquaintances, erotic moments and social discourses, it is the in-camera glances of the characters that capture the audience, inviting them to immerse in the vampire marxist-like philosophy of life according to which blood feasting becomes an altruistic gesture of body sharing – they are vampires of human and gentle nature with whom it is easy to empathize, in an atmosphere that reminds us of Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Survive (2013), which also shares a fascination for slow narrative and a posed humour with Louis Séguin’s film.
Michel Vay tells of the introspective and transcendental escape journey of an outlaw who has just committed a robbery. A path to Michel’s death that moves between the concreteness of landscapes and the abstractness of the protagonist’s psychological torments, represented in the journey inside his mind through dance steps and music sounds. Attempting to narrate the passage between life and death, between the material and the immaterial in sixty minutes only, the film is at times overly ambitious, in a stylistic search for the perfect image that sometimes forgets the importance of audience involvement. A complacent nonlinear narrative that results in a didactic and predictable ending, with the concluding shot echoing the opening one, recalling a cyclical conception of life. A daring experimentation that is not perfectly successful and that not even the pleasant musical moments and Dantean quotations succeed to make truly exciting.
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