lux film prizeGiornate degli Autori - Venice Days

09 September, 2010

SCHEDULE - Friday, September 10th


Villa degli Autori
Final Meeting (Mention to the Best Film)

Sala Volpi

27 Times Cinema
Villa degli Autori

27 Times Cinema
Villa degli Autori
Europe and Cultural Identities

Final toast
Villa degli Autori

Discussion 8: The second time around: debut films and second films

Directing duo Matteo Botrugno and Daniele Coluccini and Turkish film-maker Seren Yüce talked about their debut features – Et in terra pax and Majority, respectively – with the 27 European cinema lovers within the framework of the discussion on debut films and second films’. The debate was moderated by Giorgio Gosetti, head of the Giornate degli autori, alongside Valerio Caruso, director of

Last-minute Post (Day 8)

I am really ashamed to admit, but apparently this is my very first post on our blog, so I have to start with the basics. We have had some serious problems connecting the web which at first made me somewhat annoyed as I really wanted to read the ideas shared here. Having done so this afternoon, I am really disappointed that I couldn’t read al the posts immediately after they got posted because I find most of them very exciting and thought-provoking. But also, I am somewhat glad not to have internet here in Venice, because that might allows me to enjoy the Festival and the wonderful 26 more intensely. I am more than happy to share this fantastic experience of the Venice Days with the other members of the project and I wish that these 10 days lasted longer. Yes, we actually are the ones who find the 24 hours of the days here way too short.

What has probably been the best part of this last eight days here is the morning discussions we had in the wonderful garden of the Villa (or, in case of awful weather – which, quite unexpectedly, very often occurred – inside). The most unforgettable person was of course the amazingly arrogant Danis Tanovic, whose latest film, Cirkus Columbia is in the Giornate Degli Autori selection. Although he is not a particularly original or exciting speaker, his producer, Cédomir Kolar shared some very exciting thoughts with us. Personally, I found the discussions with the Variety critics more interesting and more organized than the ones with the directors and producers, probably because sometimes I feel that even the most talented filmmakers are incapable of sharing anything unusual about the writing-creating-financing-post-production phases. Anyway, I was really honoured to meet all these people, especially, I must say, Denis Villeneuve, whose wonderful Incendies will certainly get my special mention at tomorrow’s final meeting.

Altogether, I found the Venice Days selection very much worth seeing, although I agree with those who were starving for some laughing and humour – instead of more mafia, revenge and raping – at times. Paul Gordon’s The Happy Poet was therefore definitely one refreshing experience, and I wish I could say the same about Cirkus Columbia, which I unfortunately found way too lengthy and classical, even though I loved the scenes with Bonnie, the cat. As for the official selection of the Festival, I was especially happy about the new film of Sofia Coppola, who is one of my favourites at the moment. What I found really amazing about Somewhere is this amazingly sensitive, yet brave and strong young female-character played by the fantastic Elle Fanning, who, for me, equals the young Sofia. My favourite thing about cinema has always been the peeking-into-other-people’s-lives thing – yes, I am a cliché-voyeur-cinéphile – and on many levels, Somewhere offers a perfect platform for that. Also, I felt perfectly excited to sneak into other people’s lives – to be precise, to other people’s bedrooms – when I saw the Happy Few by Antony Cordier.

So this is all for now, as I really would like to go outside and enjoy the last rays of today’s wonderful sunshine in the beach. I can’t wait to hear what the other 26 will suggest for our special mention at tomorrow’s meeting and I hope we will have an incredible last two days here.

Surviving Life

I've had the pleasure of watching Jan Svankmajer's new feature, Surviving Life while here in Venice, and I am thrilled to have come across a film influenced by surrealism. Although not active in the peak years of the movement, the films of JS have always had a healthy nod of the head to its poetic lack of logic and its respect and fear of the subconscious world. You can see an early short of his next to give you an idea of his particular take on surreal film:

An animated JS introduces his film in its first few minutes. He announces that: "What genre is the film? Surviving Life is a psychoanaltical comedy. This is because one of the characters is a psychoanalyst." In Venice this drew a big laugh from the audience. But it isn't technically a joke! This is certainly because the audience were literate in JS's particular style of dead-pan comedy. He then added: "I really wanted to make a feature film. But I didn't have any money. So we took pictures of the actors and animated their photographs. This was much cheaper because photographs don't eat."

The film portrays a man who becomes addicted to his own dreams. He chases them to the detriment of his marriage and his career. Going deeper into these dreams, he discovers repressed memories - aided by his psychiatrist - that spark a full-blown investigation into his own past. The content of these dreams is highly surrealistic: lust for the female form, fear of the unnamed male aggressor, automatic image associations - all under the pretext of Freudian and Jungian psychology. The film drips with surrealistic connections, and for a fan of the genre, made for a thrilling ride of a film.

The style of animation that JS has used for this film reminds me of South Park or a children's TV programme. This gives the very real existential and exterior problems for the film's protagonist a naive, dream-like quality that for me, creates a thrilling unity of form and content. Of the many depictions of dreams in cinema, this is one of the most convincing. The characters' movements are stilted and wooden like Magritte's everyman, their facial expressions like kabuki masks creating a mad, distancing and somehow prosaic world for this film. These passages are cut seamlessly into close-ups for detail shot on film, reminding me of the 1960s series Thunderbirds, notorious for its abandonment of its shiny wooden puppets in favour of a veiny, hairy, real hand reaching for the gun in the holster.

Apologies for throwing so many disparate references around just then.

I fully threw myself into the experience of watching this film, and feel like a I know JS far more after watching this film than I do after a lot of other auteurs' work. It's all there up on screen!


I finally got onto the internet...the short sneaking-into-the-always-overcrowded-office-for-an-internet-access time didn’t really give me enough time to write anything sophisticated on the blog apart from some cheeky facebook statements that were supposed to provoke and tease my cinema loving friends of courseJ. Since I live in the furthest house and the reception is something which comes and goes even you are sticking your head and hands out of the window, it´s been almost impossible to keep in touch. Moreover, seeing four or five films a day don´t really leave you full of energy at the end of a day.

Anyway, from some mysterious reasons I am finally able to be on-line and have some time off to share my incredibly interesting thoughtsJ. My bed is sooo comfy, HARIBO and cup of coffee keep me company, so let´s do this and stop complaining!

Since this is my very first blog comment, I would like to express my deep gratitude for being a part of this great project, I feel much honored to be one of the 27 Young Jury Members of the Venice International Film Festival. This is an unforgettable experience for us all. And so far so good!

I´ll underline the main things that have happened so far, the films I have seen and remembered and the discussions going on. So please, take your seats and switch off your mobile phones...

DAY 1 (Thursday):

This day started perfectly. After the previous and very tiring day, Kata and I decided to get up early and try to get into the queue for Aronofsky´s Black Swan at 8.30 and guess what, we got in! Darren´s feature blew me away and left me speechless...just what I´d expected. Excellent dramaturgy, great music, capturing cinematography and outstanding Natalie Portman. This psychological thriller makes you think, spooks you and mesmerize you at the same time. Black Swan definitely made my day!

Dark Love by Antonio Capuano unfortunately couldn´t keep up with Aronofsky and didn´t leave any special impression.

The next pictures, The Accordion (Jafar Panahi) and The clink of ice (Bertrand Blier), I didn´t get to see due to a fully loaded screening room.

Today´s discussion covered freedom of expression and censorship, mostly from the political point of view throughout the history.

DAY 2 (Friday):

This day was passing in a melancholic and dramatic mood. Morning film Miral (Julian Schnabel) lead me into the war time in the Middle East. Nice cinematography and dramatic story but nothing apart from that has stuck in my memory.

The green blood, an Andrea Segre´s documentary about African immigrants to Italy, was an ordinary film that didn´t let me down but didn´t enchant me either.

On the other hand, Norwegian wood by Tran Anh Hung made me cry. This lyric and beautiful picture totally got me by its purity, simplicity and honesty. The music underlined emotions behind the love story, the mis-en-scene and cinematography became truly irreplaceable parts of the film.

Also Incendies (Scorched) by Denis Villeneuve definitely counts as one of my favourites. This moving story nails you to the chair. In order to search the old roots, the twins are about to find out unexpected… a shocking revelation.

The today´s discussion followed a dramatic topic: Public and private violence.

DAY 3 (Saturday):

I saw Sofia Coppola´s Somewhere which along with Marion Hansel´s Ocean black I would rate as nice but ordinary TV films that don´t insult or fascinate.

On the contrary, the controversial feature about the foursome trying to cope with their love, sexual needs and jealousy, Happy few (Antony Cordier), I found really interesting and powerful.

Today´s topic: The soul of cinema: memory and roots.

DAY 4 (Sunday):

Finally I got to see something that enhanced my mood: a very clever and engaging French comedy about defeating patriarchy in the late 70´ - Potiche (Francois Ozon).

Martin Scorsese´s and Kent Jones´s documentary about a film director Elia Kazan named A letter to Elia pleasantly described the biggest Scorsese´s influence on his work.

The last late night movie was Post mortem by Pablo Larrain. Very slow-paced but original experimental picture that goes deep into the protagonists´ psyche and the storyline is revealed just sketchily. Although, I must admit I fell asleep watching this movie…

Today´s topic: Whatever happened to independent American cinema, where we discussed no more relevant differentiation between studio films, indies and commercial pictures. “All that matters is film and no one cares where you got the money from if the film is good…”

DAY 5 (Monday):

I remember this long line in front of Sala Darsena for a feature named Beyond (Pernilla August). Didn´t know much about it beforehand and I was just nicely surprised by its depths and sincereness. This story about home violence, abuse and alcoholism was indeed convincing and well captured.

The Oscar winning director Danis Tanovic introduced his new epic piece – Circus Columbia. I was relieved that such a harsh topic as a war or its threat was treated with a little bit of fun and easiness.

In the discussion we talked about the future form of cinema. About the difficulty which the new media bring along, how they affect film production and so on. Will the future lays in short films? Or are they going to be video game/comic book movies that will take over?

DAY 6 (Tuesday):

There was almost nothing interesting to watch. The place in between/ Notre etrangere (Sarah Bouyain), The happy poet (Paul Gordon) and Scena del crimine (Walter Stokman)…all very ordinary pieces.

At last, Jan Švankmajer finally took this film festival seriously and presented film art experiment, Surviving life, which played with feature and animations and mixed reality with dream. Funny and smart picture it is. I am giving my personal recommendation.

Today´s topic: What purpose do festivals serve nowadays? The relevant answer is to exhibit and promote authors´ new work.

DAY 7 (Wednesday):

All I have seen today was Vincent Gallo´s experimental feature Promises written in water. Apparently, this film was completely knocked out by the critics and even my fellows didn´t like it. But I really don´t see why. It was clearly an art and audiovisual experiment. The lack of a story did not matter at all. The epic fragments were used only as a background for the psychological and physical exploration of human relationship, man´s mind and body. I especially loved the detailed shots and the framing which almost always separated one person from another during dialogue scenes. So for me, Mr. Gallo, thumbs up!

The documentary format: is this the real cinema? That was the topic of a day. It is really hard to answer this question. This kind of debates has been going on for ages. Some film makers say that the documentaries are definitely more objective than the other media or films. But on the other hand, there are few things we must take into the consideration because they change reality anyway. For instance, staging scenes for reconstructions, using actors, music, the presence of a camera eye itself and above all, editing as a result coming from the director´s choice. Reality is hard to capture and sometimes it is necessary to use art in order to preserve the truth.

So, yeah, so far so good.

natural born Tarantino hunters

The "catch Tarantino game" has become a bit of an obsession among us. Getting in to Sala Grande to a competition film screening is not enough anymore, because that means you can only see him. But none of the 27 is lacking of ambition, which means more is needed and the aims now are the following:
1. sit close to him
2. get his autograph
3. get his autograph on something Tarantino related (meaning it has greater value)
4. to hit the motherload- get him to accept a DVD of your film

Now if only it wouldn't be so hard to get into Sala Grande..

"Don't call my name, don't call my name, Sala Grande!" Conall

Venice Film Festival - a great, exhausting cinema marathon

September 2010
- III-

Danis Tanović was invited at the debate in the morning to discuss about the role of festivals nowadays and the film that he presented at Venice Days, Circus Colombia. He is a nice arrogant person, if I am allowed to say that! And his film, Circus Colombia, is one of my favorite, together with Incendies / Scorched (by Denis Villeneuve); but what actually bothers me is that I cannot compare the two, so as to decide which one I like more. Circus Colombia is different! It says the story of Divko (Miki Manojlović) who returns to his hometown after 20 years of exile, but on a totally inappropriate time as the war was about to start. However, Danis Tanović did not make it a war drama, the film is very complex and stirs different emotions, reactions, impressions. I asked him today what was his intention at the beginning: to make a love story in a war context, a story about war softened by love, a coming-to-the-roots story … because Circus Colombia is a combination of all of these. And he answered that the film is a mirror of himself, and that usually films present the naked nature of the producer, his experience and dreams. So, the film is mostly about him, inspired by what he went through since the war started. He identifies himself with the young Martin (Boris Ler), a boy, chasing girls, having no ideas what the future has reserved for him. Then, with the rich Divko, the happy “possessor” of a trophy wife, who returns home a successful, rich man. Moreover, all his characters are alienated by communism, fascism, fear of war, but in a very comic way. Circus Colombia, is a pleasant comedy, it has lots of tasty funny moments, telling the joke of a regime, of the people in it and the drama of the ones affected by it. As I got it, it is a nicely love story in a very expressive historical background, garnished with a comedy of situation, of language, or character. It is lovely!

If you want to see a film that became an „animation” just becouse „pictures don’t need food” (therefore no money), then choose Surviving Life / Přežít svůj život! Jan Švankmajer needs no presentation...his new film, Surviving Life / Přežít svůj život is absolutely crazy , with a hilariously comic introduction. Variety presents him as the guru of the stop motion, and such a famous name brings in great expectations! Well, this movie was another attempt of playing with our minds and eyes. At the border between dream and reality, Surviving Life / Přežít svůj život is a collage full of symbols and inside jokes for those who have read Sigmund Freud’s works. It presents Eugene (Václav Helsus), an ordinary person, who has some weird dreams of another woman. In an attempt to understand himself, he sees a psychoanalyst who gives him the news that he has just married his „anima”. From then on he starts living more in his dream than in his marriage life reality. But, the movie is more than a story, it is a visual experience, „an orgasm” (as Zoi would say!), an elegant, intrigant, weird mixture of humans, animals, dreams and reality. What makes the film even lovelier is that Jan Švankmajer could combine all these in a very comic way, with delicous dialogs, and suggestive images, making it a surrealist work of art, not an experimental kitsch!

Those who are afraid of clowns should not watch Balade Triste de Trompeta (by Alex de la Iglesia). But i am not afraid, so i enjoyed it, though 8:30 in the morning is not the perfect time to see such a movie. Why? Oh well, the film starts promising saying the story of a boy who wants to become a funny clown as his imprisoned father. But, everything goes crazy after he finds a job in a circus and fells in love with the boss’s girlfriend. This sad boy turns out to be... a bloody murderer!. So, yeah, it is a perfect film for those who love to see a lot of blood, exagerated drama, grotesque images and protagonists. For all the others, it may be too much. For me, it was funny, except for the mutilation scenes, when i had to cover my eyes. But, all these in combination with too much blood, a criminal crazy clown in love with a horny Barby girl make a combination that stirs laughts ... and i found it amusing!