The Days of the Last Corsair
As it has every year since 2004, Giornate degli Autori, independent sidebar of the Venice Film Festival, is being held on the same dates (August 28 September 7). Directed by Giorgio Gosetti, with Andrea Purgatori as President for the first time this year, Giornate features 11 films in competition and 8 special events, including the Miu Miu Women's Tales; the closing film Les chevaux voyageurs, about the "King of Horses", the versatile and charismatic Bartabas; and 8 Venetian Nights at the Villa degli Autori, along with a program of talks, tributes and special projects under the aegis of the two Italian filmmakers' associations ANAC and 100autori.
The films on the lineup come from 12 different countries. Along with Italy and the United States, the slate ranges from Africa and Asia to South America and Europe, with 6 first films in competition and four women filmmakers at the helm, and attests to a certain rigorousness Giornate has sought to exercise in its choice of titles, favoring a free-wheeling, independent creativity in filmmaking the world over. If any common thread is to be found in this assortment, you could say it's the clash of cultures that reveals just how fragile the contemporary world is, torn as it is between a desire for uniformity and conformity and the vitality of ancestral roots, unbowed by mass culture.
The other distinctive feature of the lineup is an inclination to seek out "pop culture" mediums that pique the curiosity of different kinds of audiences, in our belief that cinema today needs to speak to diverse communities of filmgoers, while continuing to pursue common aims: to get its message across, stir emotions, ignite passions, and re-establish a direct connection between artist and audience, however a film is viewed. Two perfect examples of this approach are the debut of the up-and-coming Sudanese director Amjad Abu Alala (You Will Die at 20), a self-taught twenty-something with great promise, and his near-contemporary, America's Phillip Youmans, winner of kudos at Tribeca in New York, now making his debut in Venice thanks to an accord between our two festivals, with his Burning Cane (screening out of competition).
On Giornate's competitive lineup (€20,000 cash prize for the best film selected by 28 young filmgoers, one from each country in the European Union), festival habitués will recognize favorites in the grand tradition such as Dominik Moll (whose Seules les bêtes is the Giornate opener on Wednesday, August 28), Jayro Bustamante (whose La Llorona is an original twist on films of civic engagement, in which ghosts and the living dead steal the scene), Japanese film star Joe Odagiri (making his feature directorial debut with They Say Nothing Stays the Same), and Fabienne Berthaud (in a new film since Sky about an evocative journey of initiation in Mongolia starring Cécile de France, Un monde plus grand). And while the renowned comics artist Igort's 5 è il numero perfetto, starring Toni Servillo, Carlo Buccirosso, and Valeria Golino) is no ordinary debut, Stefano Cipani's Mio fratello rincorre i dinosauri, based on the novel by Giacomo Mazzariol (special event out of competition) is also bound to attract attention.
Rounding out the competitive lineup, Corpus Christi by Polish director Jan Komasa, heir to the country's master filmmaker Krzysztof Kieslowski; Beware of Children by Norway's Dag Johan Haugerud, a family saga that becomes a cross-section of the country's society and politics; the utterly engaging Un divan à Tunis by Manele Labidi, starring Golshifteh Farahani in a comedy that will tug at one's heartstrings; the Venice debut of Laos, taking the form of the ghost story The Long Walk by Mattie Do; and an original co-production between the United States and the Philippines, Lingua Franca by Isabel Sandoval, sure to be a surprise hit at Venice in 2019.
Special events run the gamut from the two new auteur shorts tailor-made for the series Miu Miu Women's Tales by Hailey Gates and Lynne Ramsay; the paean to writer and director Ugo Gregoretti, Scherza con i fanti, by Gianfranco Pannone and Ambrogio Sparagna; and Mario Sesti's provocative journey through the Mondo Sexy of erotic/exotic Italian films from the 1960s; to a short by Federico Olivetti, Il prigioniero; a special event devoted to House of Cardin by David Ebersole & Todd Hughes; and a superb portrait of Guido Crepax' Milan in Cercando Valentina by Giancarlo Soldi (in Venetian Nights).
At the Villa degli Autori, with its signature convivial atmosphere, at times even situationist, which has made it a major draw on the Lido during the Venice Film Festival, the list of highlights is long. There's the gala evening event for the premiere of the film Great Green Wall by Jared P. Scott, with famed singer Inna Modja from Mali on hand for the occasion; the documentary film by Tomaso Pessina, Emilio Vedova. Dalla parte del naufragio, narrated by Toni Servillo; and the last brainchild of Giorgio Pressburger, La legge degli spazi bianchi, directed by Mauro Caputo. The list goes on: an evening with musician Riccardo Sinigallia and film director Dario Albertini, presenting their latest offerings; a look at the newest generation of Italian documentarians, with Costanza Quatriglio, featuring the Sicilian branch of the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia and the Sicilia Film Commission; a masterclass by Marco Bellocchio (2019 SIAE Award) and another with Margarethe Von Trotta (Isola Edipo Lifetime Achievement Award).
In fact, Giornate's collaboration with Isola Edipo is another novelty of 2019. This association has brought a new dimension to the Venice Film Festival, with its heightened sensibility concerning social issues alongside a focus on socializing and togetherness, making it a youthful and highly vital alternative on the Lido. It was only natural that our two worlds would meet, as announced in 2018 on the occasion of our Giornate event featuring Raymond Depardon. Our respective programs, you could say, interface with each other and dialogue, with the result that Venetian Nights will have the rarest of opportunities: a screening of the recently restored gem, Bless Their Little Hearts by Billy Woodberry (heart and soul of the L.A. Rebellion and Afro-American indie cinema).
Still more Giornate events: the European Parliament's 28 Times Cinema dates, with the awards ceremony for the Lux Film Prize, with finalist filmmakers and EU MEPs in attendance; the presentation of the courses at the New York Film Academy featuring a masterclass by master special effects designer Craig Caton, head of the Department of 3D Animation, Special Effects and VR; and actor Elio Germano's VR experience making La mia battaglia. Plus the premiere of the anthology film Frammenti coordinated by Paolo Bianchini and made thanks to joint funding from MiBAC/Miur to promote young people's visual education; then the winning shorts at Laguna Sud and the Pigneto Film Festival, and a little gem like Sufficiente by Maddalena Stornaiuolo and Antonio Ruocco; Chiara Nano's film project devoted to Alberto Grimaldi, the legendary producer of the films of Leone, Pasolini, Fellini, Bertolucci, and Scorsese; and the city of Parma's own tribute to Bernardo Bertolucci, scheduled for the end of this year.
In keeping with tradition, the films in the official selection vie for the Europa Cinemas Label, the BNL - Gruppo BNP Paribas People's Choice Award, and the GDA Director's Award assigned by the Giornate jury. They also compete for the Venice Film Festival's collateral prizes, while first-time filmmakers are in the running for the Lion of the Future.
Once again this year, Giornate degli Autori is made possible by MiBAC's Directorate General for Cinema; the main sponsor BNL - Gruppo Bnp Paribas; once again, SIAE and Miu Miu for the Women's Tales program; the Committee on Culture and the Lux Film Prize for the project 28 Times Cinema; Giornate's media partners, including a new entry, the platform MUBI, which allows us to present an anthological lineup of films during the Venice Film Festival; our traditional technical partners; the Veneto Region and the City of Chioggia, for Laguna Sud and our initiatives in Venice. As well as, naturally, the Venice Biennale and the directors of the Venice Film Festival, with whom our collaboration is close-knit and ongoing.