From revolutionaries like Federico Fellini and Michelangelo Antonioni to masters of the genre like Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci to contemporary voices like Alice Rohrwacher and Piero Messina, the world owes a lot to Italian cinema. However, as commercial theater franchises prioritize Hollywood blockbusters and local commercial releases and smaller film libraries focus on local titles and independent films, there has been little opportunity to discover and rediscover Italian cinema. in the country.
In response to this, the MOVIEMOV Italian Film Festival offers free access to Italian cinema to curious film buffs in the Philippines each year. The festival is organized by Play-Town, in partnership with the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), the Italian Association of the Philippines, the Italian Embassy in the Philippines and the Italian Ministry of Culture and Tourism ( MIBACT) and is aimed mainly at young people. -centered and educational. Now in its 11th year, MOVIEMOV continues its traditions of presenting eight Italian films through a virtual theatre, most of which are followed by a discussion session with the filmmakers and actors involved. This year’s edition is made special by a tribute to star filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini, on the occasion of his 100th birthday.
Although we are thousands of miles apart, I met with festival director Fabia Bettini to talk to her about the development of this year’s program, the celebration of Italian culture through film and of the future of the festival now that cinemas are reopening. The interview was organized by Marian Torre of the FDCP and was translated with the help of Rachel Ann Greenwood.
What were your considerations when programming this year’s festival?
For us, it is always important to promote new Italian cinema. So we chose a lot of first films but also great masters. So we can mix what is the history of our cinema with important directors like Marco Bellochio and Mario Martone [who’ve gone to] many important festivals like Venice, Berlin, Cannes. But it’s also to promote new directors. That’s why we always like to mix a selection of both.
It’s very easy for us because the festival in Rome, with us in the city, we did the same things. We would like to discover the new Italian cinema and we would like to highlight the talents. We would also like to talk about the tradition of our cinema. It’s something we’ve done with our work, every event of the year.
Your opening film this year is Qui Rido Io (King of Laughter) by Mario Martone (2021). I know the film premiered in Venice in 2021 and most recently screened in Rotterdam in 2022. Why choose this as the opening film?
Martone is one of the greatest masters we have in Italy right now and he has a wide range of cultures deeply rooted in our traditions. Especially in Naples. We decided to open with king of laughter because we show with this film the evolution of Martone: since the release of his film The death of a Neapolitan mathematician (Death of a Napoletano matematico, 1992) and showing how his filmography became such a masterpiece. king of laughter is truly one of the highlights of his career. So we thought we would celebrate its cinematography but also its growth over the years by opening the festival with this film.
Your closing film this year is Diario di Spezie (Journal of Spices) by Massimo Donati (2021), which is a dark thriller centered around a spice connoisseur and a restorer of paintings. By title and synopsis, this film seems to be tonally and thematically different from your opening. What made you want to close the festival with this film?
Yes indeed! It’s a very different genre of film and we juxtapose the great tradition of Martone’s films with an early play. This is the director’s first film and we thought it would be interesting to show how styles can evolve: from opening with the great director to closing the festival with a newcomer with a new film that’s totally different in tone and management.
We also wanted to end with this because the protagonist Lorenzo Richelmy is not only the godfather of MOVIEMOV this year, but he was also considered the main cast of Marco Polo by Netflix [created by John Fusco]. So it would be nice to show him and his career and how he evolves in this movie.
This year, a retrospective pays tribute to the great Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini, whose 100th birthday is celebrated around the world. I wondered, of all his filmography, why choose Mom Roma (1962)? And why the documentary La Rabbia Di Pasolini (2008) by his side ?
So it was very, very difficult to choose [from] Pasolini films because there were so many choices but we didn’t have the space to choose [everything] so we only had to choose a few. As this year celebrated the centenary of his birth, not only in Italy, but all over the world, he is celebrated.
Mom Roma was very interesting because that was the movie he made double cardboard and there was a recurrence [in] these themes he did from 1962. And Mom Roma mostly told how people lived in the suburbs of Rome at that time. It was very moving for me but also for everyone of our generation because it showed our city, showed how Rome used to be and how now we can celebrate it thanks to him.
Speaking of documentaries, it would have been easy to choose another film, another feature film, by Pier Paolo Pasolini. However, we thought it best to choose a documentary about his life to show how he coped in his work, how he dealt with his creativity, and also how he had to deal with so much anger and how he had to use his anger for going through his work at that time, and how he managed to be the Pier Paolo Pasolini we know today.
For an audience that is not necessarily so familiar with Italian cinema, what do you hope they take away from the festival?
From the festival, I hope that all audiences can gain an appreciation of Italian cinema. But also, kind of be educated by that because our Italian cinema is really about how Italians are, how we live in the social demographics of the world and our own social demographics, our feelings, our emotions. Of course, Italian cinema is not very good at special effects. But the deep meaning of Italian cinema goes really deep into the human psyche of Italians and that’s what we want to share with our audience.
Before the pandemic, I know the festival was screened at cinematheques in the Philippines. Now that cinemas are slowly reopening around the country, is there a chance for an in-person or hybrid festival in the future? Or have you found something you want to keep with the online format?
The idea is to be totally present. I go to festivals and I totally agree with a lot of directors. All the directors and actors who have worked with us in previous editions also say that it’s different: you know the culture, you know the people, you know everything when you’re there. It’s something different. It’s not something cold. This is another thing.
For sure, [we’d want it to be] in the present, if that were possible. And maybe also a digital edition. Maybe if we are in the Philippines we can have [virtual screenings] in Thailand and Vietnam. But the idea is to travel. We were born with this idea and we would like to continue with it. – Rappler.com
The Italian Film Festival MOVIEMOV will screen its films virtually from March 31 to April 4, 2022. To attend film screenings, discussions and masterclasses, Click here.