Of Mixing Apples and Oranges

in 32nd Torino Film Festival

by Gerard Casau

Beneath the Official Section of every festival in the world lies the same question: Is there a link between the movies in the selection? What kind of message does it convey about the state of cinema today? Trying to find an answer to this issue is always tricky, but when it comes to the official selection of the Torino Film Festival (Torino 32, since this is the 32nd edition of the festival), the task seems almost impossible.

What does the Argentinean lo-fi* teenage drama Announce Earthquakes [Anuncian sismos], by Rocío Caliri and Melina Marcow, have in common with the bleak German police drama The Kings Surrender [Wir Waren Könige], directed by Philipp Leinemann? Are there any parallels at all between the intrigues of the romanesque Swedish epic Gentlemen, made by Mikael Marcimain, and the laconic meditations of the Singaporean As You Were, by Liao Jiekai?

The short answer to these questions would be, of course, “nothing” and “no, there isn’t”. But the curators of the Torino Film Festival, lead by Emanuela Martini (in her debut as the director of the festival), like to mix apples and oranges. And in so doing, they compel the audience to find a common ground where genre lies side by side with experimentation, and where the frontiers between fiction and documentary are blurred.

In fact, there’s a method in this madness, because once we accept that Peter Strickland’s The Duke of Burgundy, with its sublimation of Jesús Franco’s eroticism, must develop some kind of dialogue with the gondryesque comedy For Some Inexplicable Reason [Van Valami Furcsa És Megmagyarázhatatlan], directed by Hungarian Gábor Reisz, we also begin to sense that contemporary cinema dissolves trends into a vast entity, where one movies interact with one another through small details.

As our colleague Eithne O’Neill pointed out, the Torino Film Festival was full of unexpected resonances between films. Some of them deal with the subject of the film (as with the idea of a drifting and troubled youth, portrayed in Announce Earthquakes, but also in Violet, by Belgian Bas Devos, and Mercuriales, directed by the French director Virgil Vernier), and others are purely aesthetic, such as the importance of music and songs in almost every film in the official selection and the surprising return to Academy ratio made by young filmmakers.

But, above all, the complex structure of Torino 32 has an inner logic that has proved to be its backbone. All the parallel sections have a strong identity: There is Festa Mobile, which hosts the premiere of movies with commercial appeal, often by very well known directors (like the latest Woody Allen, Magic in the Moonlight), or by relative newcomers who have made a strong impression in other festivals (like Whiplash, by Damien Chazelle, or Jauja, by Lisandro Alonso, two big sensations at this year’s Cannes film festival). In addition, there is After Hours, dedicated to genre films (mostly horror), and which also paid homage to Italian cult director Giulio Questi, known for the dissonant giallo, Death Laid an Egg [La Morte ha fatto l’uovo], and to Jim Mickle, whose Cold in July cements him as one of the most interesting voices in American thriller and horror filmmaking genres. And there is also Onde, dedicated to all kinds of edgy experimentations. Here one can jump from the quiet beauty of Eugene Green’s masterpiece La Sapienza to the nervous, lyrically raw films made by the young director Josephine Decker. With each department transformed into a mini-festival in itself, Torino 32 acts as a meeting point where the various sections connect, presenting all the possibilities that the Torino Film Festival has to offer.

Edited by Tara Judah