41st edition TFF: Cinema, Cinema and... Cinema for All Tastes

in 41st Torino International Film Festival

by Roberto Baldassarre

41 years old, and still young! Torino Film Festival, now in its 41st edition, is one of those events that can be attributed, by chronological age, to the concept of “millennials.” Born and developed in the 80s and 90s, when Italian cinema was in a production (and even somewhat inspirational) crisis, TFF came of age with the new millennium. Decades have passed, various artistic directors have come and gone, but the festival has remained not only a fundamental event in the Italian cinema offering (in importance it is second only to the Venice Festival), but has also acquired significance on an international level. Born with the name Festival internazionale Cinema giovani, in 1982, TFF—even with some structural changes, and also changes made to remain supportive of new trends and recurrences of world cinema—has stood out for always offering a varied and attentive opportunity to young cinema, or rather mainly promoting debut directors or auteurs with only a couple of films under their belt.

Along this consolidated line, with the passing of the years, parallel sections have been added, such as the valuable focuses on international cinema (the best known was about the Nouvelle Vague, in 1986), or about authors and/or actors. In this latest edition (24 November – 2 December 2023), directed for the second and final year by Steve Della Casa—doyen of Italian cinephiles—Torino Film Festival once again offered a wide choice of movies, from feature films to short films, and from documentaries to experimental films. In this substantial program, the two retrospectives dedicated respectively to John Wayne (seven movies chosen from his extensive filmography) and to Sergio Citti (complete filmography, except for one film which cannot be screened) stand out. The Crazies section was presented for its second year. Dedicated to the horror and fantasy genre, it is connected to the international Blood Window project (a network that unites the major international festivals dedicated to fantasy). Loved by cinephiles, this section highlights one of the historical peculiarities of the festival, as TFF has given the right emphasis to auteurs such as George A. Romero, John Carpenter, and even screened the complete serial Masters of Horror. Back to Life, on the other hand, is a section focused on those almost forgotten movies from the past (remembered only by stubborn cinephiles) that are brought back to life. An elastic section, because it also includes movies produced in the new millennium, but which unfortunately ended up in oblivion.

The winner as Best Film was the Ukrainian film La palisiada, by Philip Sotnychenko, while the FIPRESCI Jury awarded Birth, by Yoo Ji-young. Among the varied programming, it is also worth mentioning Le revissement, by Iris Kaltenbäck, which won the Special Jury Prize and the prize for best actress, which went to the intense performance by Hafsia Herzi; the Arab film Mandoob, by Ali Kalthami, won the Valdata Award for best feature film; and, although out of competition and already winner of the Silver Bear in Berlin, Roter Himmel, by Christian Petzold, screened at the TFF as an Italian premiere. Probably this edition, conducted with competence and panache by Steve Della Casa, closes a cycle, so we have to wait for the next TFF, which will be directed by Giulio Base.

By Roberto Baldassarre
Edited by Robert Horton