17th Festival del Cinema Europeo, Lecce
Italy, April 18 - April 23 2016
The 17th Edition of The European Film Festival in Lecce, Apulia, was dedicated to the Memory of Morando Morandini (1924–2015), “the doyen of Italian film criticism”, who was strongly connected to the Festival since its inception, as a member of the Board of Trustees and also as an influential personality of Italian film culture, helping to shape the festival appearance, longtime in the care of two artistic directors Cristina Soldano and Alberto La Monica.
The European Film Festival, which the lively and vibrant center has again become a cinema, Multisala Massimo, offered to domestic audience and other Italian and international guests a mainly international competition of contemporary European feature films. A remarkable and vivacious collection consisted of 10 films, made by emerging or already noticed (plus awarded) filmmakers, like Bence Fliegauf or Dagur Kári. The festival concept is generally characterized by a thoughtful balance in programing. The competition lineup of films dialogically interlinked the creative as well as critical voices of filmmakers from Western (Switzerland, United Kingdom, Denmark, Luxembourg, Austria) and Central – or South – European cinemas (Slovakia, Hungary, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, Turkey).
The non-competitive program consisted of four “pillar” sections as tributes to chosen protagonists of Italian and European cinemas. This year’s festival edition was exceptionally focused on two key figures of Polish cinema – Krzysztof Zanussi (1939) and Andrzej Zulawski (1940–2016). The work of each author was represented again by a fine composition of ten films (Zulawski: The Third Part of the Night, The Devil, Possession, Mad Love, etc; Zanussi: Illumination, Imperative, Paradigm, The Supplement, Persona Non Grata, etc.). The headliners of the Italian part of the program, both joyfully awaited and closely watched by the national press (represented by 10 film selections each), were two popular performers from different artistic contexts and generations. The First one was actor, singer, director and screenwriter Christian de Sica (Born 1951), “one of the most popular personalities of the Italian show business, with more than 80 films to his name”. He was accompanied by well-known fellow Italian Elio Germano (1980). The younger, but already experienced enough, Germano worked with Ettore Scola, Emanuele Crialese, Paolo Virzì, Ferzan Özpetek and others. In 2010, he won the Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival (ex-aequo with Javier Bardem) for Our Life by Daniele Luchetti.
A typical example of the festival’s artistic efforts and preferences was the new “exploratory” program section Commedia Europea, which has to show the vital perspective of the genre. It focused, Soldano said, “on the necessary amount of non-sense pertaining to this genre, which reveals the coarseness of conventional morals, the significant demands and the arrogant certainty to understand reality found in the several countries attending in this section.” It consisted of five recent titles (all from 2015), partly introduced by the filmmakers: 21 Nights with Pattie (Arnaud & Jean-Marie Larrieu), Heil (Dietrich Brüggemann), Klown Forever (Mikkel Nørgaard), Schneider vs. Bax (Alex van Warmerdam), and Stranded (Jose Corbacho, Juan Cruz).
The Jury, composed of Roberto Olla (Chair, executive director of Eurimages), Karel Och (artistic director, IFF Karlovy Vary), Antonin Dedet (producer), Maria Sole Tognazzi (director) and Alessia Barela (actress) awarded, with the Golden Olive Tree Award and 5,000 Euro Prize, the film Lily Lane (2016) by Bence Fliegauf. The Award for Best Screenplay and FIPRESCI Prize went to Ines Tanovic for Our Everyday Life. Award for Best Cinematography went to Martin Žiaran for The Cleaner by Peter Bebjak. Finally, the Special Jury Award went to Virgin Mountain by Dagur Kári. (Martin Kanuch, edited by Steven Yates)
Festival del Cinema Europeo, Lecce: