Viva Italia.? By Umberto Rossi

in 51th Taormina Film Festival

by Umberto Rossi

The program of the BNL Taormina Film Fest included four Italian films: two in competition (Apnea by Roberto Dordin and Through the Eyes of Another by Gianpaolo Tescari), and two more (Sergio Amidei – Portrait of a writer of cinema by Ettore and Silvia Scola and Do You like Hitchcock? by Dario Argento).

Gianpaolo Tescari’s film created the most controversy, with many arguments for and against. It is the story of a wealthy couple – he a celebrated physicist, her a noted choreographer. The marriage seems to be destroyed when the woman decides to help a Kurdish refugee. The proximity with the other prompts jealousy to explode, as well as racial fears, fears in the mind of an apparently modern and progressive intellectual. By making him an American Jew, added another element to the plot that mixes psychology and politics, art and primordial instincts, reality and nightmares.

The film has been reproached for its attitude towards Jews, seeing how the character’s mind hides fears and racism. However, the director focuses on the mind of a particular character and not on Jews in general. The movie was shot and set in the city of Trieste, a lively city, without touristic features

Apnea, a crime story based on social elements, also speaks of emigration. The plot concerns the investigations conducted by a sporting journalist into the death of one of his companions in a fencing competition. The search reveals sordid elements such as immigrants forced to work under desperate conditions in the tanneries. Although strong on the social elements, it is very weak stylistically and in the casting.

The two films by established directors: Ettore Scola and Dario Argento, have little in common except that both were made for television. The film about the screenwriter Sergio Amidei is an extraordinary document that, through the analysis of the life and work of one of the creators of the Italian Neorealist movement, it revisits a whole era of Italian cinema. The film directed by Dario Argento could not overcome the series of flat quotations from Alfred Hitchcock’s films, used in a banal plot set in Turin. One of the problems of this film was the low quality of the acting.

In conclusion the Italian presence at this edition of the BNL Film Fest was not entirely convincing, despite the films of Gianpaolo Tescari and Ettore and Silvia Scola.