Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Minus One Day to 69th Venice International Film Festival

Tomorrow the oldest and one of the triad of most prestigious film festivals in the world will start once again. Maybe last year was not that "news worthy" but I believe that this year with the outstanding lineup could be more interesting to follow on daily basis, soon we will find if I'm right or not.

Nevertheless, this year there are 3,231 films in the fest, 1,459 feature-length and 1,772 short films, with 50 being world premieres; so I'm sure that fest has "something" for everyone. Even those that scream for female directors representation in film world events are satisfied as festival includes 4 films directed by women in competition, as well as the opening film plus more if you consider the other sections of the Official Selection, Venice Days and the Critics Week.

But more important for me, fest will screen latest works of great directors like Kim Ki-Duk, Marco Bellocchio, Takeshi Kitano, Olivier Assayas, Brian de Palma, Paul Thomas Anderson, Susanne Bier, Mira Nair and great actress Hiam Abbass directorial debut. Add that from what I have been able to see or read, there are a few directors that could enlarge my list of must-follow their work. Indeed La Mostra seems to have changed under newly appointed Alberto Barbera, as seems to have a good distribution between established directors and those that are in the process to become great filmmakers.

On the trivia side of the fest is interesting to note that this is the first time ever that the fest will screen a Terrence Malick film in competition, but he's not the only director that will participate for the first time in competition as also Olivier Assayas, Ramin Baharani, Rama Burshtein, Daniele Ciprì, Xavier Giannoli, Harmony Korine, Valeria Sarmiento, Kirill Serebrennikov, Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth are first timers.

If you follow Movie On facebook page, you already know that the fest for the first time ever will stream films, 10 feature-length films and 13 short films from the Orizzonti section. The virtual theatre online will have (only) 500 "seats" that had to be reserved, films will be streamed for 24 hours on the day of the film's official presentation, will be in the original language with English subtitles and each feature-length film will cost 4.20 Euros. I commend the fest initiative but find the price high when you consider that world streaming prices are significantly lower, even for online VOD blockbuster "premieres". Let's hope that in the future fest organizers reconsider the price and make it more competitive to assure success beyond the limited 500 virtual seats.

Alright, so let's get into what is happening today as Pre-Festival opening activities. Tonight at 20:30pm (local time) the screening of the film Roma ore 11 (Rome 11:00) by Giuseppe De Santis that is considered as one of the fathers and one of the main protagonists of the Italian Neorealism. This 1952 film has a young Raff Valone as well as a young Lucia Bosé and tells the gripping tale of five girls who are among the 200 women who answer an ad for a modest secretarial position in one rainy morning in 1951 Rome. Story is based on an actual incident where a scuffle breaks out and the stairway collapses sending many of the 200 women hurtling down in a mass of bodies amid brick and mortar. This is the synopsis in Italian.

Rispondendo all’annuncio su un giornale, duecento ragazze si presentano in via Savoia a Roma per ottenere un posto di dattilografa presso lo studio di un ragioniere. In un’Italia esasperata dalla disoccupazione, ma ancor più dall’impossibilità per le donne di trovare lavoro, arrivano per il colloquio giovani di ogni tipo ed estrazione sociale: nobili decadute, prostitute che cercano di cambiar vita, mogli con il marito disoccupato, figlie di ex benestanti cui la pensione non basta per sopravvivere. Accalcatesi sulle rampe delle scale del piccolo palazzo, si scambiano impressioni e accennano alle loro esistenze fatte di miseria ed espedienti per vivere. Un litigio per la priorità in fila trasforma l'attesa in tragedia: la ringhiera della scala cede, distruggendo a uno a uno i gradini, facendo precipitare le donne, molte delle quali rimangono ferite, mentre una di esse, Anna Maria Baraldi, muore. Portate in ospedale, l'amara scoperta: per essere curate, gli uffici pretendono il pagamento della retta giornaliera di 2.300 lire. Molte di loro sono costrette ad andare a casa perché impossibilitate a pagare.

Deep in my memory archive there are images of this film that I saw a long time ago; if you haven't seen it and you appreciate Italian Neorealism then this is a movie that you have to see.

A pre-opening with a great movie that many will be able to attend for free tonight at Arena di Campo San Polo. Tomorrow the opening ceremony and the premiere of Mira Nair's The Reluctant Fundamentalist at 7:00pm in the Sala Grande plus other films screenings since 9:00am.


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