Add to that superlative events such as the long-lost documentary by Ermanno Olmi that, thanks to the efforts of researchers at the Istituto Luce, plunges us into Milan in the 1960s and a pioneering season in psychoanalysis, as well; or the American biopic Agnellithat offers a whole new perspective on one of the post-war era’s major international figures; or the deeply unsettling Il risoluto by Giovanni Donfrancesco, which dusts off a forgotten page of Italian history: that of the “child soldiers” in the death throes of fascism.
– “Candelaria,” Jhonny Hendrix Hinestroza (Colombia, Germany, Norway, Argentina)
The 90s. The world is changing drastically and Cuba, the island of the embargo, is drowning in rum and choking on hunger and cigars. In this grim landscape, the lives of Candelaria (64), and Victor Hugo (63), a couple who stays together out of inertia, take a surprising turn the day Candelaria finds a Hi8 camcorder. With this peculiar object, they look at each other, caress each other, and love each other once again. But this unexpected happiness, sweet as it is, is only the beginning of the end.
– “The Contagion,” Matteo Botrugno, Daniele Coluccini (Italy)
Marcello, Chiara, Mauro and Simona all live troubled lives in the same building on the outskirts of the city, along with the local ringleader, Carmine. Into the shifting sands of this perennially tragicomic humanity steps an eminently bourgeois professor and writer, Walter, who’s been conducting an affair with Marcello. While Marcello is a former bodybuilder unsure of his own sexuality, it is only Mauro, a coldly ambitious drug dealer, who seems to want things to change, as corruption and the powers behind it arrive in the ‘hood’.
– “Where Shadows Fall,” Valentina Pedicini (Italy)
Nurse Anna and her assistant Hans work in an old folks’ home that was once the orphanage where they were imprisoned as children, and they still seem trapped in time and space. The appearance of Gertrud is a blast from the past that brings the horror back to life, and the facility morphs into what it once was, a shelter for Jenisch children taken from their families to be subjected to Gertrud’s eugenetics experiments. A victim of this environment and her own painful childhood that haunts her still, Anna starts stubbornly searching for her old friend Franziska. Based on a true story – on seven hundred of them.
– “L’Equilibrio,” Vincenzo Marra (Italy)
Giuseppe, a priest from Italy’s Campania region and formerly a missionary in Africa, has been working in a small diocese in Rome, but asks to be transferred to a town in his native region when he finds himself in the middle of a spiritual crisis. In a small village outside Naples, Giuseppe fills the shoes of the local parish priest, Don Antonio, known and respected by one and all for his charisma, eloquence and campaigns against the illegal dumping of toxic wastes in the area. For his part, Don Antonio has earned the right to a transfer to Rome. Before he leaves, he fills Giuseppe in about the harsh reality of the neighborhood, and, once on his own, the new priest does his best to help the community in every way he can, until he finds out inconvenient truths about where he’s come to live. He chooses to set aside his fears to pursue his spiritual calling, but for all his courage and tenacity, in this tough environment Giuseppe finds himself with his back against the wall.
– “Eye on Juliet,” Kim Nguyen (Canada)
A love story through the eye of a spider drone. Across the landscape of a Middle Eastern desert and an oil pipeline, appears a strange spider-like robot that seems to be scoping the horizon. At the other end of the world, in America, Gordon, drone operator and safe keeper of the pipeline, surveys the desolated landscapes from his screens. Having lost his way in a world he no longer comprehends, he becomes fascinated by Ayusha, a young woman promised to an older man she doesn’t love. Despite the distance, their mutual fear and their imperfect interaction, Gordon will do everything in his power to help Ayusha escape her fate, falling for her in the process.
– “Longing,” Savi Gabizon (Israel)
– “Life Guidance,” Ruth Mader (Austria)
The film is set in the near future, in a world that has achieved a perfected state of capitalism. Society is sustained by a class of top achievers. These cheerfully motivated people populate a bright, friendly, transparent and efficient middle-class world. Meanwhile, so-called minimum recipients live under sedation in Fortresses of Sleep. The great majority of top achievers view themselves as happy and self-fulfilled. An outsourced agency has been established for the rest: Life Guidance is charged with turning these individuals into optimal people as well. Alexander is a member of the middle class and works in the financial sector. Like the others, he has internalized the system. But one wrong word to his child is enough to trigger Life Guidance. An agent from Life Guidance counsels him about attaining his optimal potential and increasingly encroaches on Alexander’s life. Alexander starts to rebel and soon encounters the horror of the system in all its brightness and affability.
– “Looking For Oum Kulthum,” Shirin Neshat (Germany, Austria, Italy)
Mitra, an ambitious artist around 40, a mother and a wife, embarks on her dream of making a film about her hero, the legendary female singer of the Arab world, Oum Kalthoum. Her film’s central aim is to explore the struggles, sacrifices and the price of Oum Kalthoum’s success as a female artist living in a conservative male dominated society. However, the sudden disappearance of Mitra’s young teenage son during film production, and the mounting difficulties of capturing the essence of Oum Kalthoum as a myth, a woman, and an artist, lead Mitra to have an emotional and artistic breakdown.
– “M,” Sara Forestier (France)
Lila and Mo meet at a bus stop. Lila has a paralysing speech impediment. Mo is chatty and exuberant. Lila is preparing for her exams. Mo illegally races cars for a living. Opposites attract, and they fall in love. But Mo carries a secret burden.
– “Samui Song,” Pen-ek Ratanaruang (Thailand, Germany, Norway)
Viyada, a Thai soap opera actress in her mid-30s, finds herself increasingly pressured by her husband Jerome, a rich foreigner entirely devoted to a charismatic cult leader called The Holy One. Viyada has no other choice than to take the most drastic measures in order to escape from the cult’s influence for once and for all.
– “The Taste of Rice Flower,” Pengfei (China)
– “Volubilis,” Faouzi Bensaidi (Morocco, France)
Abdelkader is a security guard and Malika is a domestic employee. They have just got married and they are madly in love. Despite their financial difficulties, they dream of moving in together and of fully live their love. But one day, Abdelkader experiences a violent and humiliating incident that will turn upside down their destiny.
WOMEN’S TALES PROJECT (shorts), en colaboración con Prada’s Miu Miu Label
– “Carmen,” Chloe Sevigny (Italy, U.S.)
– “#14 (The [End of History Illusion],” Celia Rowlson-Hall (Italy, U.S.)
(The [End) of History Illusion] is set in a luxury Las Vegas family home, buried eight meters underground. Tap dancing twins and a baker-ballerina feature in this aspirational lifestyle advertisement, which is soon undone by nuclear Armageddon. Part 1930s Hollywood musical, part 1960s Cold War nightmare, Celia Rowlson-Hall brings her characteristic choreography and dark humor to this tale of commercialism, fear and escapism.
– “Agnelli,” Nick Hooker (U.S.)
Agnelli is the story of Gianni Agnelli, the legendary Italian industrialist and playboy as told by family, friends, lovers, professional confidantes, and rivals – even his butler and cook. The film chronicles Agnelli’s dramatic and colorful life, beginning with his years as the most glamorous international playboy of the mid-20th century, through the 70s and the “Years of Lead,” and closing on the mythic nature of his place in the minds of the people of Turin, the Italian people, and the world’s executive intelligentsia.
– “Getting Naked: A Burlesque Story,” James Lester (U.S.)
Getting Naked: A Burlesque Story peels back the curtain to reveal the sexy sub-culture of the neo-burlesque scene in New York City. This vérité documentary intimately follows four performers, each of whom has discovered a newfound identity and belonging in a world of bawdy comedy and striptease. However, they find all that glitters is not necessarily gold, as this liberating community does not insulate from the harsh realities of sexism, illness and existential crisis. Getting Naked explores what it means to be an artist, an entertainer, and a woman in the toughest city on Earth.
– “La Legge Del Numero Uno,” Alessandro D’Alatri (Italy)
Three men with nothing in common but a desire for freedom that absorbs them 24/7 pin all their hopes for a few day’s reprieve from prison on an audience with a judge. Actually, this trio – a shady dealer, a tough Roman mobster, and an Eastern European trafficker – shares something else, too: the unfounded belief that only the first man to go speak to the judge will obtain the leave. In a holding pen they find themselves in a no-holds-barred contest to land that vital first place in line.
– “The Resolute,” Giovanni Donfrancesco (Italy, France)
An eighty-seven-year-old Italian who has retired to the woods of Vermont meets a filmmaker and seizes the occasion to look back on his long life. Wartime memories long suppressed trigger recollections of his inconvenient past as a child soldier in the ranks of the Decima Mas, one of the most violent fascist militias. Including a revelation concerning Mussolini’s lost treasure, which he himself helped to hide. A journey down the winding road of memory that speaks to the present day.
– “Thirst Street,” Nathan Silver (U.S.)
Alone and depressed after the suicide of her lover, American flight attendant Gina travels to Paris and hooks up with nightclub bartender Jerome on her layover. But as Gina falls deeper into lust and opts to stay in France, this harmless rendezvous quickly turns into unrequited amour fou. When Jerome’s ex Clémence reenters the picture, Gina is sent on.
– “Il Tentato Suicidio NellAdolescenza,” Ermanno Olmi (Italy)
– “I’M (endless like the space),” Anne-Riitta Ciccone (Italy)
– “The Millionairs,” Claudio Santamaria (Italy)
– “Raccontare Venezia,” Wilma Labate (Italy, France)