Ten Per Cent Better

in 33rd Torino Film Festival

by Luca Pellegrini

Twelve theatres for almost two hundred films; a growing audience; a fair and proper verdict of the jury, who decidedly awarded the most valid films in a good main competition. The other festival sections – Festa mobile, After Hours, Onde and the retrospective “Things to Come” dedicated to the “earth of tomorrow seen from cinema”, along with those with the shorts and the Italian and international documentaries – have distinguished themselves by offering an extreme variety and curiosity of films from known and unknown authors. Turin Film Festival (TFF), for these reasons, is characterized as a completely and faithfully city festival, well integrated into the urban context of the Piedmont’s regional capital, inserted in a city that follows, appreciates and defends it, designed and organized primarily for viewers and fans, students and the naturally curious, who show very little interest in red carpets, movie stars, the elite côté, what the Rome Film “Festa” has tried to delete but without having the support of an alternative idea and with a city very distracted. In Turin, it is the pleasure of discovery, of sharing and the taste of discussions that always wins.

Just to get a comparison of the numbers of success, this year the TFF has seen a 10% increase in the number of tickets sold, up from 26,900 in 2014 to 29,700 in 2015, compared with a stable number of subscriptions, day passes and press and cultural accreditations, making a total of 4,600 units.

The director Emanuela Martini, tenacious and strong, enthusiastic and ironic, well prepared and applauded, has in effect offered everyone the opportunity to give space to his boundless film curiosity. There were no red wires and special topics, but different genres and styles were presented from all over the world, with a sense of “everything” and inclusion that has seduced. The collaboration with the Turin Film Lab led, for example, to some wonderful films shared to the public, first feature movies of great depth, some shown already elsewhere, other presented here, and hopefully ready to have a future distribution as widespread as possible: Eva Nová from Slovakian director Marko Škop, Interruption directed by Greek Yorgos Zois, two titles from Israel, Mountain by Yaelle Kayam and Tikkun by Avishai Sivan, from France The Wakhan Front (Ni ni le ciel ni la terre) by Clément Cogitore, the Czech Family Film (Rodinny Film) by Olmo Omerzu, the black and white The Garbage Helicopter (Sophelikoptern) directed by the Swedish Jonas Selberg Augustsen and finally the very good Underground Fragrance of Chinese director Pengfei.

Cannes, Venice and other festivals have offered few movies that perhaps you will never see in your city’s movie theatres, which is why the Turin public has been so enthusiastic. Just to understand the variety of what TFF offers, a great success and theatre completely sold out for the Horror night marathon, with films scheduled from midnight: The Devil’s Candy by Sean Byrne, The Hallow by Coryn Hardy and February by Osgood Perkins. The triple bill was attended with great interest and turnout until 6 in the morning. The marathon ended with cappuccino and croissants offered by the Festival!

Of the fifteen films in competition, four Italian films have been ignored by the jury: Colpa di comunismo, a good documentary by Elisabetta Sgarbi that follows the precarious life of three Romanian caregivers looking for work in Northern Italy; many doubts followed the screening of the experimental The Bear Tales (I racconti dell’orso) directed by a young couple, Samuel Sestieri and Olmo Amato; the fun but slender Mia madre fa l’attrice by Mario Balsamo, weak intentions for the mafia thriller Nameless Authority (Lo scambio), the first feature movie by Salvo Cuccia.

The International Jury of Torino 33 – made up of Marco Cazzato, Josephine Decker, Jan-Ole Gerster, Corin Hardy and led by Italian actor Valerio Mastandrea – picked up new trends and tendencies, appeared in other recent Festival, recognizing the centrality of family’s relationships – intimate, rough, lost, recovered, defended, fought – developed as subject and scripts. Just think of the young adolescent fatherhood of Keeper by the Belgian director Guillaume Senez, which won the Best Film prize; the ideological confrontation that becomes deeply moral in La patota (Paulina) directed by Argentinean Santiago Mitre – Grand Jury Prize and Best Actress Dolores Fonzi; the destabilized relations blowing up when facing a painful death, as happens in the intense A Simple Goodbye by Chinese Degena Yun or the cause for reflection offered by rather evanescent families in the Mexican Sopladora de Hojas by Alexandro Iglesias Mendizábal, the last two both rewarded with an ex -aequo Prize for the best original screenplay. And then there are heterogeneous family units in the French countryside, which are forced to face diversity and an adverse climate – a dryness of the field which reflects the inner aridity -, in a crescendo of anxieties and tensions as happens in Heatwave (Coup de chaud) by Raphael Jaculot, winner of the Audience Award and the Best Actor Prize, given to Karim Leklou.

Although some have advocated the idea of moving the festival to late spring, the dates of the next  34th edition have been announced already: from 18th to 26th November 2016.

Edited by Michael Pattison