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Showing posts from September, 2016

Anna Magnani's legacy honored at Castro and BAMPFA

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By Moira Sullivan

The late Italian actress ANNA MAGNANI will be honored at the Castro Theatre on Sept 24 and at the BAMPFA from September 25 to December 4 in Berkeley. The program is sponsored by Luce Cinecittà, the Italian Cultural Institute and Cinema Italia San Francisco.

Magnani was born in Rome in1908 and worked with the great Italian art house directors such as Roberto Rossellini, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Federico Fellini and Luchino Visconti. She also worked with Jean Cocteau and even won the admiration of Tennessee Williams who created for her on screen a role in The Rose Tattoo opposite Burt Lancaster, where she won the best actress award in 1955 at the Academy Awards. Her breakthrough role that brought her to international attention was in Roberto Rossellini’s Rome Open City that made her a star in Italy and abroad.

Magnani died in 1973 at the age of 65 in Rome after a long battle with cancer and her public funeral brought all of Italy out to mourn in the streets of her beloved…

The 73rd Venice Film Festival, La Biennale di Venezia - Awards

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By Moira Sullivan
This year there were some exceptional films in the Orizzonti or Horizons section of the Venice Film festival that ended Sept 10, and several were made by women. The Belgian independent film director Fien Troch won the best director award for “Home”, a disturbing tale about young people involving incest and subterranean family violence. The story is told in an innovative film style with inventive use of mobile framing (Frank van den Eeden) and solid character development. The enfolding narrative is shown full screen but when there are flashbacks or special focuses on characters, the screen space is cut in half (editor of film is Nico Leunen -Troch’s husband). “Home” is well made revealing an artisan of high caliber. The premise of “Homes” is the paradox of three young men, two of which share the same girlfriend Lina (Lena Suijkerbuijk), and they all have with severe problems at home. John’s (Mistral Guidotti) mother molests her son, Sammy’s (Loïc Bellemans) mother p…

Fourth report from the 73:e Venice Film Festival

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By Moira Sullivan
The massacres in Paris, Nice and Brussels by young alienated outsiders is perhaps the most urgent problem today that finds expression in cinema. “Our War”, an Italian US and Kurdish co-production by Bruno Chiaravalloti, Claudio Jampaglia, Benedetta Argentieri , had its world premiere in Venice, a unique out of competition documentary about three young volunteers from Sweden, the US and Italy who travel to northern Syria to fight against ISIS with the predominantly Kurdish YPG - Popular Protection Command in Rojava.

Over 30,000 voluntary recruits to ISIS in Syria have occurred before the making of the film, some of them westerners, and it was important to learn of westerners who choose to participate with the Kurds to fight ISIS. One of these recruits, a former US Marine, points out that the most effective way in this struggle is to arm the Kurds who have led the most successful campaigns to push back ISIS.

The Eremites” is a Orizzonti film and Ronny Trocker’s first…

73:e Venice Film Festival: Report 2

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By Moira Sullivan



Tim Sutton’s Dark Knight  was featured as a special screening at the Venice Film Festival 31 Aug - 10 September. The film is  is part Frederick Wiseman and part Gus Van Sant.  These are two filmmakers whose talent has been a problem for some spectators and who are praised by others. Both have crews which set up shots perfectly and both have acquired funding for professionally made films.  The content is revealed often in long takes with little dialogue, quickly edited scenes (editor Jean Applegate) and redundant imagery. Introspection with lingering momentum is their watchdog. Their films are part reality TV, part commercial voyeurism and almost always a male gaze. Focus is on male characters and when, for example, it is on female characters such as Wiseman’s long surveillance of a battered women and children he did not seem to know much about women. (Interview with Wiseman for Filmfestivals.com at Venice 2001), so much that he went on to make Domestic Violence 2 th…

Allesandro Aronadio's "Ears" at 73rd Venice Film Festival

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By Moira Sullivan

The Venice Film Festival which runs from Aug 31 to Sept 10 features films in several sections in addition to the main competition. Biennale College was created in 2012 – a laboratory for advanced training dedicated to the production of low cost films. This year one of the three films chosen for college is "Ears "by Alessandro Aronadio with its world premiere Sept 1.
The characters don’t have names. A man, played Daniele Parisi, a doctor of philosophy who is a substitute teacher, wakes up one day with ringing in the ear and his entire day is filled with occurrences surrounding this event. Despite the number of characters, Aronadio keeps them in place and in focus. 
From beginning to end there are images of the heavy influence of Catholicism on Italian daily life. Two nuns (Silvano Sosi and Masaria Collucci) ring the doorbell of his girlfriend where the man has spent the night (Silvia D’Amico) and inadvertently alert the neighbor (Sonia Gessner). The nuns t…

Alberto Barbera tries to innovate Venice Film Festival

By Moira Sullivan

The Venice Film Festival is one of the oldest in the world yet every festival needs to update to remain vital. This year festival president Alberto Barbera was aware that young people don’t seem to come to the festival enough because there aren’t enough activities for them, parties, mingling opportunities, hangouts. One Italian festival that has successfully enlarged on this concept is the nearby Udine Far East Film Festival in the Veneto region, this year taking out a full-page ad in the pricey daily trades. The average filmgoer in Udine is under 30 and there are quite a few opportunities to attend parties and gatherings. What does this have to do with a film festival? The party angle of a festival makes it festive. Venice now competes with the Rome Film Festival and the former director of the Venice Fest, Marco Müller , was the first president. He brought an artistic spirit to the Venice festival before he left and had a doctorate in Asian studies. Under his dire…