Torino Film Festival mixes militant cinema with more mainstream films

The Turin Film Festival in Italy, the quintessential event for young directors and independent cinema – being redesigned after going virtual due to the pandemic – will somewhat symbolically kick off its 39th edition with the international premiere of ” Sing 2 ”with director Garth Jennings in tow.

“It’s a hymn to coming back to cinema,” said Torino artistic director Stefano Francia di Celle choosing the lively musical, with more than 40 rock, rap and pop tunes, opening November 26-Dec. 4 event. It will be Italy’s first festival held in venues with 100% capacity since the start of COVID-19.

“Sing 2”, he points out, is also just the second feature film directed by Jennings, who cut his teeth in the indie world directing videos for many of the top pop groups of the 1990s such as Blur. , Radiohead and Beck, before he was able to bring Universal on board for his impressive debut in “Sing”.

Over the years, Turin has always mixed what Di Celle calls “militant” independent cinema with more mainstream and genre films.

Masters of the genre such as John Carpenter, Joe Dante and John Landis have all been invited. But from the start, the festival’s real mission has been to discover and give visibility to promising recruits. Todd Haynes and Alexander Payne both traveled to Turin early in their careers and Italians Luca Guadagnino, Michelangelo Frammartino (“Il Buco”) and Pietro Marcello (“Martin Eden”) received a crucial boost thanks to their launches in Turin.

Torino’s 12-title competition this year features mostly first works, several of which have surfaced elsewhere. These include the black comedy “El Planeta” by Hispanic-Argentinian artist Amalia Ulman, a Sundance star; the absurd Egyptian women’s empowerment photo “Feathers” by Omar El Zohairy, which caused a sensation in Cannes; and the story of sexual arousal in Costa Rica “Clara Sola” by Nathalie lvarez Mesén. Her next project, “The Wolf Will Tear Your Immaculate Hands”, will be presented to the festival-linked Torino Film Lab incubator which has gained worldwide notoriety by creating works including the debut film by “Titanium” director Julia Ducournau “Raw”. “The Mute Man of Sardinia,” by Italian newcomer Matteo Fresi, about a true 19th-century Sardinian bandit who was deaf-mute from birth and involves fierce family feuds as well as romance, will premiere global.

The two-part mission of the festival is “to explore new authors around the world and to make room for Italian directors in their first or second film,” says Di Celle. He is particularly happy to celebrate Monica Bellucci with an award for artistic innovation, as the iconic Italian actor has “experimented more than usual”. In her latest film “The Girl at the Fountain”, directed by the Italian Antongiulio Panizzi, she plays another icon, the late Anita Ekberg, a role for which she dyed her hair blond.

Di Celle calls this hybrid documentary set for an animated torino arc “a dialogue at a distance between two divas who have known – and in Bellucci’s case still know – a great celebrity”. As for the “militant” images, many works will be exhibited experimenting with alternative forms of cinema in the sections entitled Incubator and Heretical Screens. Also a lot of docs and short films, as well as a vintage Italian cinema component.

Turin’s penchant for experimental cinema will see a retro dedicated to visual artists and the Lebanese filmmaker duo Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, known for “The Lebanon Rocket Society” and more recently “Memory Box”, their multi-layered exploration of memory made with newspapers, letters and audio recordings growing up in 1980s Beirut.


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Gerald R. Schneider