This year the Film Festival of Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland was even more interesting: also Innovation Norway, Visit Sweden, Visit Finland and Visit Denmark have brought their ‘Be Nordic’ event to Rome, at Villa Borghese (at ‘La Casa del Cinema’ where the Festival took place from May 4th to May 7th).
The Scandinavian directors, protagonist of the Nordic Film festival that took place in Rome from April 16th to 19th, have brought to viewers original ideas, such as "Stockolm Stories" and "They have escaped" the first work mentioned - introduced Saturday, April 18th by Swedish director Karin Fahlén - is a kaleidoscope of tormented characters walking through urban life to find a balance at critical times; the second film, presented on 18th April by Jukka-Pekka Valkeapää (director) with Pilvi Peltola Valkeapää (co-screenwriter) transports us along with two youngsters escaped from an institution for minors and for which society seems to only offer marginalization and risk.
India’s Daughter, Leslee Udwin’s documentary for the BBC Storyville project, focuses for 60 minutes on the description of the rape and murder of student Jyoti Singh, an incident that came to be known as the Delhi gang rape. Viewers expecting a fully comprehensive investigation of all the social and political issues that surround gender inequality in India can avoid viewing the programme (and can probably avoid viewing documentaries in general). For those, however, seeking a starting point to begin to understand and reflect on this brutal event, India’s Daughter is painful but necessary viewing.
What is it that is shared by the town walls of Montevideo, where football team Peñarol’s supporters turn an anonymous pass highway in a colorful statement of pride for an imagined nation within the official one, with a poor suburb of Panama turned into a tourist attraction by the meticulous stubbornness of people armed with brushes and paint, what is shared by temporary gardens in forgotten areas of Dublin city center with civic activism in disadvantaged regions of Spain, where the signs of the 2008 -2010 economic crisis have left spaces once uninterruptedly claimed by private companies’ activities?
It is now one hundred years since the birth of Thor Heyerdahl, who in 1947 (to prove his theories on the colonization of Polynesia by indigenous that had sailed from the coast of Peru) organized an expedition with a raft built as those on which "Kon Tiki" crossed the Pacific Ocean, according to the epic songs of the Polynesians, with which Heyerdahl had lived for a long time.
The Cannes Film Festival is incontestably the most important film event in the world, offering glamorous red carpet events and stars by the boatload but also offering “serious” -- for lack of a better word -- cinema a place in the spotlight, with entirely star-free competition titles including important new work from major arthouse names such as Mauritanian veteran director Abderrahmane Sissako, who presented his Mali-set, jihad-themed drama Timbuktu; Russian director Andrei Zvyagintsev, who explores the Russian soul and a dark backwater in his Leviathan and the winner of the top prize, Winter Sleep, from Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, which looks at a small cast of characters talking for over three hours in a hotel in rural Anatolia and manages to illuminate such subjects as the rich/poor divide in Turkey.
The Transylvania International Film Festival, or TIFF, which takes place every year in the Romanian city of Cluj-Napoca in the Carpathians, was founded in 2001, when the first edition was won by a local film, Occident, from rookie director Cristian Mungiu.
Spoils, treasures and our artistic heritage. Many war movies are about the personal dramas of a handful of soldiers, who often stand in for the wartime experiences of armies and people at large. Films about the more strategic or abstract aspects of war are few and far between – a famous, Oscarwinning example being the biopic Patton, directed by Franklin J. Schaffner and cowritten by a young Francis Ford Coppola – because viewers like to be able to relate to the characters. A tiny subset of war films has looked at the complex fate of art during armed conflicts, a rich subject matter only a few features have explored, including John Frankenheimer’s 1964 classic The Train, with Burt Lancaster.
Brightly lit skyscrapers where everyone’s good looking, depressed and violent family life after work, or the unusual retirement of a Mexican janitor and nurse. Film talks about the world of occupation and its many leading characters on and off the screen.
Making visible what’s missing is a challenge. Though the election, last March, of the Argentinean Pope Francis seems to have invigorated the standing of the Catholic Church in Europe, it’s fair to say that most people under 50 would argue that the Old Continent is increasingly atheist, or agnostic at best.
Raiders on the high seas between cinema and reality. Captain Jack Sparrow versus Afweyne, the Somali pirate king. Piracy in a film context is normally confined to two topics: Johnny Depp and the spectacularly successful Pirates of the Caribbean films – a series of almost phantasmagorical blockbusters based on a theme park ride of several minutes that are ridiculous but also, sometimes, ridiculously entertaining.