The Self-Sufficient European Film Festival

in 13rd Lecce Festival of European Cinema

by Bruno Torri

The 13th edition of the European Film Festival of Lecce, held from 17th to 21st April, has confirmed the validity of its structure, strengthening its identity and obtaining a wide participation of audience. The dense and motley program included numerous screenings (more than 100 long, medium or short films), as well as other activities: conferences, publications, photographs expositions on film aspects and meetings with the authors. A lot of space has been dedicated to the Italian cinema, with homage to the actor and director Sergio Castellitto, including 23 works (among films and TV serials) and a monograph. A further two sections consisted of documentaries on social issues and another one of short features filmed in Puglia. Another ‘Homage’ was dedicated to Ken Russell who passed away a few months ago and was celebrated with some of his most meaningful films, and another one to Emir Kusturica, in attendance at the Festival, with almost all his films being screened and his participation in different meetings focused on his cinema work. Other important parts of the program were some ‘special events’ and a focus on Slovenian Cinema, represented with five long-features.

The competition program of 10 films, representing as many European countries, resulted in a good level of quality, including a couple of impressive films that obtained numerous awards assigned by the International Juries. Both the films Oslo, August 31st by Joachim Trier from Norway (winner of the Golden Olive Tree, the main prize assigned by the International Jury) and Vacuum by Giorgio Cugno from Italy, curiously have more than an element in common. Both tell of an existential crisis, in both the protagonists’ workplaces as the narration core; and both are mainly characterized by a formal search for originality in film language. The Fipresci Prize was assigned to Vacuum, a film that also received the ‘Special Prize’ of the International Jury and two more collateral prizes. The film debut of a young emerging director, it tells of a woman who after her pregnancy slowly falls into depression, caused not only by personal psychic problems but also by the difficult social and environmental conditions she and her husband live because of their precarious jobs. As said, apart from the importance of the subject, the aesthetical and cultural values of Vacuum are mainly the very essential and rigorous film writing, more allusive than explicit, all concentrated in the secret personality of the main character, forced to live in an oppressive world. Both the main character and the surrounding reality are made plausible and disquiet in their sad ‘normality’ by a much calibrated direction from Giorgio Cugno; so revealing a certain directorial talent.