The Festival Of Families

in 18th Lecce Festival of European Cinema

by Alberto Tristano

Families seem to be the red line that unites many films that took part in the competition of Festival del Cinema Europeo (European Film Festival) in Lecce, Italy. The film that won the official competition, My happy family (Chemi Bednieri Ojakhi, 2017), by Georgian couple Nana & Simon (Nana Ekvtimishvili & Simon Groß) is an explicit declaration of this interest. The movie explores at best the contradictory, sincere, raw and sentimental forces which change and overwhelm the fundamental structure of society. In particular, as a basic atom of community, the family becomes an evident metaphore of the whole community (in Georgia but not only there). It reflects the turbolent moment of trasformation under the push of emergent individual freedom and emancipation. My happy family succeded to narrate all this, and yet not ignoring but exalting the presence of tradition. the reference comes out above all in the jovial episodes, signed by the wonderful presence of popular songs that mixes with voices of characters who speak, whisper or scream.

A taste of ink (Compte the blessures, 2016), by French director Morgan Simon, works not as an immediately evident, but as vivid familiar myth. It is the tale of Oedipus, which is in some way a sort of counter-Oedipus, because the role of discernment and tragedy falls on the paternal figures. Set in contemporary France, the movie tells the life of a young man, Vincent, who attemps to reconstruct his existence (by covering his skin with tatoos), devastated by his mother’s death. But this assence produces a violent conflict with his father, involving his new young partner. The impression is of an unsolved dialogue between generations, that goes beyond the structured, run-in, relations.

What is a man without a family? What is a man living in a complete loneliness? The answer is in Forest, 4 am (Las, 4 rano, 2016), by Polish director Jan Jakub Kolski. That man is a beast. Not only because his rude life goes on in the nature, without culture, relations, evolutions or changes. But above all, because his feelings, oppressed by guilt and loss of the best means of sentimental life, have no possibilities to espress, reconnect with the world. They are locked up in a sad, obscure territory where only the primary and solitary instinct are valid. This condition, through the intervent of the different element, the female one, presented in different forms, undergoes a crucial alteration, and the movie is capable to turn into a pacified, kind solution.

If all happy families resemble and every unhappy family is unhappy by its particular way, the supreme unhappiness is to want to appear happy. In Album (Albüm, 2016), by Turkish director Mehmet Can Mertoglu, a couple with no sons fabricates the presence of a baby, realizing a fake familiar album. They’re two bourgeis looking for a complete social affirmation which need even a familiar entirety. If the biology is not enough, comes the burocracy and the corruption. But this deceit can’t hold. Album is another familiar portrait, where the family is the favored field of complessity and investigation. The family disappears, breaks, changes; and even if it vanished – it would be there yet.

Edited by Nachum Mochiach