The Italian Films

in 43rd International Film Festival Rotterdam

by Alberto Castellano

The selection of Italian films IFFR organized in collaboration with Cinecittà Luce and screened in various sections, has deservedly been given priority for independent documentary and fiction production. At this moment these films are an intriguing mirror of a real country and a reliable point of view when it comes to dramatic Italian problems.

So we have several young filmmakers who have approached different themes with the intent of presenting correct information. In Blood in Bahia’s Hot (O sangue è quente da Bahia) coproduced with Brazil, Aurelio Grimaldi tells the tragic love story of two sixteen-year-olds boys in a favela in Salvador de Bahia. To get money João sometimes sells his body or is forced to steal while the young Vandinha is pregnant. In Letters to the President (Lettera al president) Marco Santarelli proposes a selection of letters sent to the Italian President of the Republic between 1946 and 1969 from Italian people who wish to express their dreams, desperate pleas for help and hopeful plans in the years after the war. Sacro GRA directed by Gianfranco Rosi, winner of the Golden Lion at last Festival of Venice, is an incisive portrait of the suburbs of Rome through the stories of people who live in the ring road around the city. Small Homeland (Piccola patria) of Alessandro Rossettois set in a village in the hinterland of Venice is a story of contrasts and misunderstandings between young sensual women and older conservative men with ambiguous relationships and sexual perversions. Rossetto recreated the story with non-professional actors from the region.

With EU 013, The Last Frontier (EU 013, l’ultima frontiera) Alessio Genovese denounces the distortions of the Italian system under the CIE (Centro di Identificazioneed Espulsione, Identification and Deportation Centre) where illegal aliens can be held for several months before they are admitted or deported. Documentary maker Genovese was the first person to receive permission to look inside its walls. Through interviews with the guards we learn that the men and women who have to spend long months behind locked doors have not committed a crime and have not been sentenced. So these people find themselves in an administrative nightmare. Lack-Hell (Mancanza-Inferno) directed by Stefano Odoardi is set in L’Aquila, sees a town in the Abruzzo Region devastated on the night of April 5th 2009 by an earthquake, not yet reconstructed. With a theatrical and stylized structure, inspiring by The Elegies of Duino by Rilke, the author walks and talks through the ruins with a young woman and other survivors whose philosophic reflections bear witnesses to a ghostcity. Finally, Prophecy. Pasolini’s Africa (Profezia. L’Africa di Pasolini) presented as an International Premiere, is a documentary produced by Istituto Luce about Italian director and intellectual Pier Paolo Pasolini and his love for Africa. The film focuses onhow his vision of that continent bears relevance today, thirty-eight years after his death. The film follows Pasolini’s development through his films but also his life and encounters with other intellectuals like Jean-Paul Sartre.

Edited by Tara Judah