Wednesday, August 06, 2014

2014 Cinema Biennale Check #4 - Italian Directors

An Italian festival without Italian directors in the competition is almost impossible to imagine so no surprise that this year there are three films in competition.

Saverio Costanzo

Born on September, 1975 in Rome, Lazio, Italy. He began filmmaking with a documentary and his first feature length film, 2004 Private was at 2004 Locarno where Costanzo won the Golden Leopard for Best Director. Her second feature length film In Memoria di Me (In Memory of Me) was in competition for 2007 Berlinale top award and his third film is fantastic La Solitudine dei Numeri Primi (The Solitude of Prime Numbers) that was in competition for the 2010 Biennale top award and where Alba Rohrwacher won the Best Actress award.

His fourth feature length film, Hungry Hearts (aka Il Bambino Indaco) is in competition at this year Venice fest which makes him one of the few directors in the world that have all his feature films premiered at top festivals, which of course means not much but assures certain cinematic quality in his films. Have seen all his films and I'm sure will see his latest that hope will enjoy as have not enjoyed some of his previous films mainly because the story (too-difficult to watch for me) but watch it completely for the fantastic visuals.

I'm a bit anxious because film is in English (is set in NYC); still, have great expectations as Alba Rohrwacher has the female lead role.

Basic info about Hungry Hearts
Director: Saverio Costanzo
Scriptwriter: Saverio Costanzo
Language: English
Length: 109 min
Production countries: Italy
Production company: Wildside, Rai Cinema
Starring: Alba Rorhwacher, Adam Driver

Mina and Jude meet while stuck together in the restroom of a restaurant, marking the beginning of a true love story. They move in together. They get married. And anticipate the arrival of their baby - until a spiritual guide tells Mina she is bearing an "indigo" child.

Francesco Munzi

Born in Rome in 1969 he probably is better known for his Luigi De Laurentiis Award - Special Mention in 2004 Venice fest for Saimir which is his debut feature film. His second feature film Il Resto della Notte also deals with a story about immigration (Saimir is about Albanian immigrant) this time related to Romanian immigration a film that I enjoyed watching and has a review in this blog. Munzi's third feature film, Anime Nere will premiere in Competition at the 2014 Cinema Biennale and seems story is not about immigration this time but about the 'Ndrangheta, a mafia-type criminal organization centered in Calabria.

Imagine that film will not be that easy to watch and as a reference screenplay writer Maurizio Braucci did also the script of infamous Matteo Garrone's Gomorrah, which makes me think of a specific narrative style but believe Munzi will play more with great visuals, so let's hope Munzi's film will be a bit easier to watch, sigh.

Basic info about Anime Nere (Black Souls)
Director: Francesco Munzi
Scriptwriter: Francesco Munzi, Fabrizio Ruggirello and Maurizio Braucci
Language: Italian
Length: 103 min
Production countries: Italy and France
Production company: Cinemaundici, Smarthouse Films, Babe Film, Rai Cinema, On My Own Produzione Cinematografiche, Bianca Film

In the film, three brothers from the Aspromonte region in Calabria are not affiliated with the mighty and deadly ‘ndrangheta organization but are involved in numerous and widespread criminal activities. The infernal journey of the three protagonists traces an ever widening path of blood and violence throughout Italy and spreads within the family as well outside. The culprits are also the victims of an ancient archaic evil, born from within the bowels of the Aspromonte.

Longer synopsis
The rich story of a criminal family from the Southern region of Calabria plays out like a contemporary Western, where the call to blood law and an emphasis on revenge are commonplace and acceptable notions of justice. The story begins in Northern Europe, passes through bustling streets of Milan, and ultimately reaches the southern peaks of the Aspromonte.
Anime Nere (Black Souls) is the story of three brothers, sons of shepherds, deeply immersed in Calabria's 'Ndrangheta, and perhaps mostly about their torn and tortured souls. Luigi, the youngest, is a worldwide drug trafficker. Rocco, the middle brother, who has moved to Milan and appears middle-class, is an entrepreneur, living off laundered money. Luciano, the oldest, lives a life of pathological delusion, having established a sad and lonely internal dialogue with Calabria's long gone past. And Leo, Luciano's son, is part of a lost generation, having only inherited anger and aggression from his ancestors, and any hope for a better future for him seems to be a train that he has missed his station.
When a minor spat triggers the hostility of a rival clan, a spark that starts a raging fire is ignited, and painful family history resurfaces. Events and emotions that might be containable anywhere else in the world can't he here in Calabria, and even less so on the steep and rough Aspromonte; and so the weak and the strong, and the archaic and the modern, clash violently, pushing a family toward continued tragedy.

Clip from film

Mario Martone

Born on November 1959 in Naples. Martone is the most accomplished Italian director in competition this year as has 26 films -most are shorts and/or documentaries- in his filmography and well, as far as I can remember, haven't seen any of his films.

Nevertheless his first feature film, Morte di un matematico napoletano premiered in 1992 Venice fest where won several awards including the Grand Special Jury Prize. He has been back to Venice with other films but perhaps his other most acclaimed film is L'Amore Molesto that was in competition for a Palme d'Or at 1995 Cannes. So perhaps I'll meet him with his latest work, Il Giovane Favoloso, as story calls my attention and cast can deliver great performances when they have good direction.

Do not expect story to be easy to watch because who Giacomo Leopardi is but looking forward to understand more about the poet of very famous poems, including controversial Saffo.

Basic info about Il Giovane Favoloso
Director: Mario Martone
Scriptwriter: Mario Martone and Ippolita Di Majo
Language: Italian
Length: 137 min
Production countries: Italy
Production company: Palomar, Rai Cinema
Starring: Elio Germano, Anna Mouglalis

Leopardi è un bambino prodigio che cresce sotto lo sguardo implacabile del padre, in una casa che è una biblioteca. La sua mente spazia ma la casa è una prigione: legge di tutto, ma l’universo è fuori.
In Europa il mondo cambia, scoppiano le rivoluzioni e Giacomo cerca disperatamente contatti con l’esterno. A ventiquattro anni, quando lascia finalmente Recanati, l’alta società italiana gli apre le porte ma il nostro ribelle non si adatta. A Firenze si coinvolge in un triangolo sentimentale con Antonio Ranieri, l'amico napoletano con cui convive da bohémien, e la bellissima Fanny. Si trasferisce infine a Napoli con Ranieri dove vive immerso nello spettacolo disperato e vitale della città plebea. Scoppia il colera: Giacomo e Ranieri compiono l'ultimo pezzo del lungo viaggio, verso una villa immersa nella campagna sotto il Vesuvio. Una storia di genio, sofferenze, poesia, amori e avventure.

The biopic about Count Giacomo Leopardi, and Italian poet, essayist, philosopher and philologist.

Clip from film

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