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October 10, 2006

Italian Film Festival - Part 3

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La Destinazione
Piero Sanna - 2003
RAI Trade 35mm Film

It took until Monday to see what has turned out to be the best film of this festival. La Destinazione is derived from Piero Sanna's own life as a member of the Carabinieri. Cast primarily with non-professional actors, the film is about choices. Emilio, a stick-figure skinny young man joins the carabinieri rather than continue unemployment. He is assigned to a small town in Sardinia plagued by high unemployment, limited options and reliance on traditional codes of honor and silence. His developing, clandestine relationship with a young woman is countered with a narrative concerning a personal vendetta between families after some small time criminals attempt to rustle sheep.

The cast, lead by Roberto Magnani as the rookie, and Elizabetta Balia as the young town girl, is effective. In an interview about the film, Sanna places his film within a neo-realist tradition, specifically citing Ermanno Olmi. While La Destinazione is much more polished than the films usually thought of in the neo-realist tradition, I can see his point in terms of both the use of non-actors and primarily using the camera as a sort of passive observer. Sanna's life may possibly be an inspiration for others in that his debut work as director-writer-editor premiered on the eve of his 60th birthday. Sanna was nominated for the David di Donatella award for Best New Director in 2004.

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Much Ado about Love/La Verita, vi prego, sull'amore
Francesco Apolloni - 2001
Columbia Tristar (Italy) 35mm Film

The title comes from a poem by Auden, "The truth, I pray to you, on love". In his director's statement, Apolloni aspires to create a contemporary version of Schnitzler's La Ronde. There have been several versions, official and unofficial, but I'm certain that even Roger Vadim, not to mention Max Ophuls, would have thought to include a scene involving a lip-synching penis. It's a small part of this twelve character film, but it is also as utterly hilarious as it is in dubious taste. Most of the thirty to forty year olds are a dull lot in this story of unrequited, unwanted or unexpected love. The performers who do captivate include Pierfrancesco Favino as a musician/artist who by chance meets Beatrice Fazi, a Japanese-Italian visitor. Not saying a word until the end of the film is the charming Gabrielle Pession.

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Come into the Light/Alla Luce del Sole
Roberto Faenza - 2005
Mikado 35mm Film

Until I did a little research, I hadn't realized that Roberto Faenza had also directed Copkiller, the only film to pair Harvey Keitel with the former Johnny Rotten. Come into the Light isn't nearly as fun, being based on the true story of a priest who creates a safe haven and alternative for children in a small Palermo village dominated by the Mafia. Faenza may be sincere in his intentions, but he is also heavy handed. In one scene, there is the close-up of a noisy blender while the mother tries to blot out the sound of her mafioso husband bullying their son. Come into the Light, the only film shown on the closing night of Tuesday, virtually epitomizes this festival of films from Italy. More often than not, one was reminded that good intentions hardly every guarantee good filmmaking.

Posted by peter at October 10, 2006 09:17 PM