Cinema Lessons in Taormina

in 50th Taormina Film Fest

by Imma Merino Serrats

As if to balance the frivolous tributes to stars that took place at the ancient Greek Theatre at night, were the mornings of Master Classes. The Taormina Festival allowed fruitful discussions to take place with various filmmakers such as Luigi Magni, Margarethe von Trotta, Peter Weir, Jane Campion and Francesco Rosi. In any case, they were much more interesting than many of the films presented. These Master Classes gained a sense of vitality with the questions which the audiences contributed.

The results could be taken as an invitation for the organisers to consider that, apart from festival duties and promotion matters, it is much more useful to have a dialogue with cinema personalities than to just admire and give them tributes. A significant matter, old and up-to-date at the same, emerged from the session with Peter Weir: Is it possible to combine being an auteur and maintaining a link with the industry? The Australian director was aware of the pact that he had made with the devil, but he assured us that there are some moments when the strength to resist temptation is needed if a project lacks credibility and dignity, or when the sense of the film is lost. He admitted a certain duality in himself. There is a Peter Weir that is ready to do anything, and the other Peter Weir that says ‘I won’t do this.’ From the combination of both comes the director that is able to tell any producer ‘you have to consider me as a doctor: if I am to do what you are suggesting, the film will die’. The result is that we can see interesting things in Weir’s movies, apart from certain conventions in all of them. For example, his recent “Master and Commander”.

Being an auteur was also something that showed up during Jane Campion’s Master Class, as she remarked: ‘I fell in love with cinema because I believe that it helps to discover the meaning of your own life’. But it is worthwhile to point out her strong defence of a woman’s point of view, in her case, is always courageous in confronting the diverse desires, not always pleasing but usually disturbing.