Sunday, August 09, 2015

#Venezia72 Check No. 1 - The Italians Part 1

Series Intro

As the Cannes Series gave a more detailed view of the films in the main competition, today decided to start another "Check Series" this time for Venice International Film Festival, also known as La Mostra or La Biennale.

The 2015 edition has twenty-one (21) films in the main competition and assume there will no more as a few days back were announced two more films that "completed" the selection. So, let's check some facts for these 21 films.

There is an eclectic mix of highly honored directors, some directors in the middle of their careers and a few that have started not long ago if not now with their debut feature film going directly to Venice main competition. There are only two female directors out of twenty-two attached to the twenty-one films. Then we have films and directors from five continents: Asia, Africa, America, Europe and Oceania which happens not often enough.

Festival archive probably is complete but searching the database via their Internet official site is not an easy task (Venice please follow Cannes example) so have some preliminary data that I hope to research more when doing each director post and if necessary, will update data in this introduction.

With above info in mind, it seems that thirteen (13) directors are new to Venice as have never been in the festival before and five (5) have never been to any of the three major festivals, Berlin, Cannes or Venice. Which are refreshing findings as suggest festival-circuit-free directors but unfortunately that's not accurate for all seven as among them there are Academy Award winners, Sundance winners, which leaves only one director that is really "new" to the festival and award circuit.

But when we focus only in Venice fest we find the following data.
-There is one (1) Venice Golden Lion winner: Aleksandr Sokurov with Faust in 2011
-There are two (2) Venice Special Jury Prize winners: Marco Bellocchio with La Cina e Vicina in 1967 and Jerzy Skolimowski with Essential Killing in 2010 and in 1985 with The Lightship.
-There is one (1) Venice Golden Osella for Screeplay: Marco Bellocchio with Buongiorno, Notte in 2003
-There is one (1) Venice Career Golden Lion winner: Marco Bellocchio.

Above data tells that there are three (3) directors that have won awards at La Mostra; add six (6) that have been in the festival before: Luca Guadagnino, Pablo Trapero, Christian Vincent, Xavier Giannoli, Giuseppe M. Gaudino, Amos Gitai, and we have nine (9) directors that have been in Venice. Then there are thirteen (13) directors that have never been in Venice: Emin Alper, Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson, Cary Fukunaga, Zhao Liang, Lorenzo Vigas, Drake Duremos, Laurie Anderson, Piero Messina, Sue Brooks, Atom Egoyan, Tom Hooper, and Oliver Hermanus.

With this bird's eye panorama let's start the Venice Director's Series in the most expected manner, with the Italian Directors! As there are four directors will split post in two parts; will start with the one director and film that I have been waiting for a long time as the lead actress is none other than Juliette Binoche!

Piero Messina

In Venice for the first time with his debut feature film that went directly to the festival main competition. He is a director, screenwriter and score composer that has done films since 2004.

Born on April 30, 1981 in Caltagirone, Italy. Has a directing degree from Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia di Roma. His short films have won awards like, Stidda ca curri, winning top award at 50th Taormina Film Festival; 2009 La Porta opens in competition at Rotterdam festival, 2011 Terra opens in Cannes Cinéfondation selection, 2012 La Prima Legge di Newton wins special mention at Rome fest and gets nominations at the Nastri d'Argento and Globo d'Oro.

Noteworthy is that Paolo Sorrentino selected him to direct a short in the Giorgio Armany Project, Frames of Life - Films City Frames in which Sorrentino plays the main character; short has unreleased sequences from Sorrentino's The Great Beauty. Important is to mention that Messina was director's assistant to Paolo Sorrentino in his films This Must Be the Place and The Great Beauty. Suggest you watch short as has great production values and beautiful photography; go here to see complete short film.

Will not deny that I'm extremely surprised to learn Messina so-positive credentials as even do knew before about film, main focus was placed in what Juliette Binoche was doing and not the film director. So it is my first pleasant surprise from #Venezia72!

L'Attesa life started as a project in the 2013 TorinoFilmLab and came to international attention by being in competition in the oldest festival in the world. Not long ago, Juliette Binoche talked about this film, here is an excerpt.

She recently shot an Italian drama, The Wait, with a first-time feature filmmaker, Piero Messina. “It’s just the script and the intensity of his eyes,” she explained about her decision to be in the film. “[There’s] something about the eyes when you meet someone [who] is more into listening, into taking in…. When you have just a breathing between two people and there’s a listening between two people, then you feel like, Oh, I can work with that person. You need to reveal things inside of you as an actor, and you have to have somebody who has ears and eyes and whose presence can be a partner.… It’s about something which is deeper and more mysterious in a way.”

Obviously my expectations have gone up and consider them were already high as happens with every single film with Juliette Binoche, add that after watching Respire by Mélanie Laurent, Lou de Laâge absolutely grabbed my attention and interest in her career. So if the Binoche-Laâge duo had my most interest, now have to add Messina and the trio HAS to be spectacular. I hope.

Have to mention that Juliette Binoche is once again in contention for the Best Actress Coppa Volpi; she already won one in 1993 for her outstanding performance in Trois Coleurs. Blue by Krzysztof Kieslowski.

Basic info about L'Attesa (The Wait)
Director: Piero Messina
Scriptwriters: Giacomo Bendotti, Ilaria Macchia, Andrea Paolo Massara and Piero Messina.
Language: Italian
Runtime: 100 min
Production Countries: Italy and France
Production Companies: Indigo Film (Nicola Giuliano), Barbary Films, Medusa Film, Pathé
Distribution: Medusa (Italy), Bellissima Films (France), Pathé International (World Sales)

Cast: Juliette Binoche, Lou de Laâge

Plot Summary
Short: A mother unexpectedly meets her son's fiancée at a villa in Sicily and gets to know her as she waits for her son to arrive.

Long: Anna is not yet 60 and already feels like her life is over. The pain of bereavement is etched into her face and her slow movements; it is reflected in the shabby walls of the residence and the ivy that covers them. Then, in that timeless place, the telephone rings: “I’m Catherine. Giuseppe’s girlfriend.”
Anna should tell her immediately of the terrible loss, but she is petrified: she did not know that her son had a girlfriend. Catherine’s arrival in that villa made up of mourning brings a breath of fresh air and a certain naivety. Anna is yet unable to tell the girl the truth. She is sure it can break the spell. The excuse is always the same: “I’m waiting for the right moment”. So the two women spend the Easter Days in that solitary place, waiting together for the return of the man they love.
To wait for someone is an act of faith. It does not matter if the wait is long or short, if the person is dead or has simply vanished. To wait means to believe that they are elsewhere and to long for their return. And if two women removed from time are convinced that the return of someone faraway is imminent, then that person lives yet.


Giuseppe M. Gaudino

Born in Pozzuoli, Naples, Italy in 1957. Also known as Beppe Gaudino. A graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Naples, he attends DAMS in Bologna. He then gains his diploma in set design in 1982 from Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia and goes to specialize in film and TV direction.

After a number of shorts, documentaries and theatrical works as director and set designer, he makes his debut feature film, Aldis, that was invited to participate in numerous festivals, among the most important of which were XV Berlin International Forum of New Cinema in 1985, XII Student Film Award AMPAS -gaining a nomination for best European student film- and the XLII International Venice Film Festival in competition in De Sica section.

Each of his films have been all over the festival circuit, many with multiple honors. Most notable is his 1997 Giro di lune tra terra e mare (Moonspins Between Land and Sea that won the Tiger Award in 1998 and multiple collateral awards at 1998 Venice fest as was competing for the Golden Lion.

Can't say I'm familiar with this director but was familiar with his film as really enjoy Valeria Golino as a director and actress, follow her career since a long time ago and have seen most of her European films. What I learned about Gaudino does not intrigue me much as most of his work tend to be in the documentary genre, which only suggests to me a possible realistic approach to drama. Besides Golino's performance, I'm also interested in the story and black&white cinematography is always a plus for me.

Literal translation of Per Amor Vostro is "For Your Love".  There is no official English title for this movie yet. Last, Valeria Golino will be competing for the Best Actress Coppa Volpi; she already won one in 1986 with Storia d'Amore (A Tale of Love) by Francesco Maselli.

Basic info about Per Amor Vostro
Director: Giuseppe M. Gaudino
Scriptwriters: Giuseppe M. Gaudino, Isabella Sandri and Lina Sarti
Language: Italian
Runtime: 110 mins
Color: B&W and color
Production Countries: Italy and France
Production Companies: Buena Onda (Valeria Golino and Riccardo Scamarcio), Eskimo SRL, Figli del Bronx, Gaundri Film, Bea Production Company, Minerva Pictures Group, Rai Cinema, Les Films des Tournelles (Anne-Dominique Toussaint).
Distribution: Officine Ubu, Rai Cinema (World Sales)

Cast: Valeria Golino, Adriano Giannini

Plot Summary
Shot between Naples and Pozzuoli, the film tells the story of Anna, professionally successful woman who is very well regarded in her workplace. However, when she comes back home to her three children and her husband, pretending to ignore his ties with organized crime, Anna feels demoralized and lost.

Italian: Anna è stata una bambina spavalda e coraggiosa. Oggi, è una donna “ignava”, nella sua Napoli, che da vent’anni ha smesso di vedere quel che davvero accade nella sua famiglia, preferendo non prendere posizione, sospesa tra Bene e Male. Per amore dei tre figli e della famiglia, ha lasciato che la sua vita si spegnesse, lentamente. Fino a convincersi di essere una “cosa da niente”. La sua vita è così grigia che non vede più i colori, benché sul lavoro - fa la “suggeritrice” in uno studio televisivo - sia apprezzata e amata, e questo la riempia di orgoglio. Anna ha doti innate nell’aiutare gli altri, ma non le adopera per se stessa. Non trova mai le parole né l’occasione per darsi aiuto. Quando finalmente, dopo anni di precariato, riesce a ottenere un lavoro stabile, inizia il suo affrancamento da questo stato. Anche dal marito, del quale decide finalmente di liberarsi. Da quel giorno affronta le tante paure sopite negli anni, come quella di affacciarsi al balcone di fronte al mare...Perché sa che quel mare è per lei un oracolo. Il mare unico elemento ancora non contaminato dal suo sguardo grigio.


Film Stills and Production Photos

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