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DAILY NEWS: Torino Film Festival Wrap; And MIX’s Surprise 16th Outing

DAILY NEWS: Torino Film Festival Wrap; And MIX's Surprise 16th Outing

DAILY NEWS: Torino Film Festival Wrap; And MIX's Surprise 16th Outing

by Brian Brooks and Wendy Mitchell/indieWIRE

>> Torino Offers Cutting-Edge Fare; “Satin Rouge” Claims Jury Prize

(indieWIRE: 11.21.02) — Venice may get the most international acclaim, but
Italy’s second-largest festival, the Torino Film Festival, offered plenty of
cutting-edge international and domestic films during its 20th event. The
jury awarded its best feature film prize to French/Tunisian production
Satin Rouge,” directed by Raja Amari. The film, about a Tunisian woman who surprisingly enters the cabaret world, claimed the 20,500 euro prize at the
event, which ran November 7-15.

indieWIRE was on the scene in Torino for a few days, and got a small taste
of what this northern Italian town, and its film festival, has to offer.
Torino (Turin in English) is best known for the Holy Shroud (not on display
when I was in town), Nutella, and Italian auto giant Fiat. Its industrial
reputation neglects its artistic past, however — this is where the Italian
film industry was born in 1904. By 1914, there were 50 production studios in
Torino. Torino is also known as the birthplace of director Dario Argento and
the place where the Brit heist classic “The Italian Job” was shot.

The Torinese still take their films seriously. I was amazed at the multiplex where fest films were shown — these screens were bigger than any I’ve ever seen before, and the sound was impressive. One change with this year’s fest was that the screenings moved from the city center to the Lingotto, a huge complex (formerly a Fiat plant) incorporating a conference center, shopping mall, and multi-screen cinema. The generic shopping mall
didn’t win me over, but the theaters were so expansive and comfortable that
it was easy to forget the food court inside once the lights went down. “This
was a big dramatic move, it turned out to be a positive thing,” says one of
the fest’s programmers, Giulia D’Agnolo Vallan. “[Our previous venue] was
older and less good in terms of projection quality.”

The festival’s opening night film was Tony Abrams and Adam Larson Broder‘s “Pumpkin,” in which Christina Ricci plays a spoiled sorority girl who falls in love with a disabled athlete. Some of the satire (country-club culture,
short buses) may have been lost in translation to Italian, but the audience
seemed to enjoy it anyway. I ran into co-director Broder at a dinner later,
where we sipped local red wine and partook of regional culinary delights
that included various meats, cheeses, some cold omelette-y cubes, and tasty
desserts. I particularly enjoyed chatting with him about the spot-on musical
selections in “Pumpkin,” including my faves Belle & Sebastian.

American films were well-represented overall, thanks to “Pumpkin” in
competition plus the popular Americana sidebar, which screened a diverse
slate of films, including Stacy Peralta‘s skateboarding doc “Dogtown and
,” several John Ford features, Brian De Palma‘s “Femme Fatale,” Christopher Nolan‘s “Insomnia,” Roger Avary‘s “The Rules of Attraction,” several Larry Fessenden films, and John Frankenheimer‘s “Path to War,” about Lyndon B. Johnson (shown stateside on HBO). Americana programmer Vallan said
that “Path to War” was very well received thanks in part to its “parallels
to the current political situation.” Larry Fessenden’s work was also quite
popular, with “Wendigo” selling out three screenings in a row.

“The competition has always been oriented towards first and second
time filmmakers,” Vallan says. “It has played a role in Italy and in a
certain corner of Europe to spotlight new filmmakers that became major
auteurs.” Some interesting competition screenings that I caught included
Brazilian Anna Muyleart‘s “Durval Discos,” about an aging rocker who lives with his mother and runs a struggling record store in Sao Paulo. With its
clever and touching plot twists, “Durval Discos” won the fest’s Holden Award
for best script. I also saw “Bungalow,” a German feature that created strong
buzz at the recent Viennale. It was a note-perfect portrait of teenage
malaise during a sunny German summer. After foiled attempts to catch other
film screenings (there were a few logistical problems and near-riotous lines
to get into films), I wandered blindly into Italian director Giacomo
‘s “Eccomi Qua,” and was pleasantly surprised. The image quality
was a bit off and the near-constant jazz music was distracting, but
otherwise, I was won by the charms of this quirky tale about an aimless
twentysomething who can’t seem to grow up even as his situation becomes
increasingly adult. In addition to the award for “Satin Rouge,” the jury
also singled out Sri Lanka‘s “Tani tatuwen piyabanna (flying With one
,” directed by Asoka Handagama, for a special mention (it also grabbed
the audience award). The shorts jury recognized Jean-Louis Gonnet‘s “Comme
Un Seul Homme
” from France, with a special mention to Adam Guzin’ski‘s
Antychrist” from Poland.

I was less impressed with Amir Naderi‘s Americana offering “Marathon,” about a young Manhattan woman who sits on the subway for hours doing crossword
puzzles. I saw several audience members walk out of this one, although
director Naderi said that he always likes the reception he’s gotten in the
past in Torino. And Vallan said other screenings of “Marathon” went over
well with the crowds.

Other programs outside of the shorts and doc competition included special
screenings, such as David Cronenberg‘s “Spider,” several Argentinian and
Brazilian films, the European Perspectives and Docs in Europe sidebars, a
section of New Japanese Cinema, and tributes to American screenwriter and
director John Milius, Brazilian filmmaker Julio Bressane, and Italian
documentarian Gianni Amico. The documentary jury gave its 10,000-euro best
Italian doc prize to Alina Marazzi‘s “Un’ora sola ti vorrei,” about
Marazzi’s ailing mother. Special jury awards went to Enrico Pitianti‘s
L’ultima corsa” and Stefano Savona‘s “Un confine di specchi.”

The regional and national programs appeared to be very extensive, but
because they weren’t subtitled, and I haven’t gotten around to learning
Italian, I couldn’t go to those screenings. Winners from the Italian
competitions included Mauro Santini‘s short “Da lontano,” and the regional
feature “La fotografia” by Dario Casetti.

Even if I couldn’t watch new Italian cinema, I did try to explore Torino’s
film history. I left the mall long enough for a jaunt to the Museo Nazionale
Del Cinema
, the city’s amazing museum of cinema. The museum is housed in a
glorious old synagogue, the Mole Antonelliana near the River Po, which is
the tallest traditional brick building in the world. In addition to a
panoramic view at the top, “the Mole” houses early artifacts from the
history of moving images (magic lanterns, huge cameras), plus more recent
items, like sketches for Marilyn Monroe costumes, “La Dolce Vita” posters,
Chaplin‘s storyboards, and a model of an actual Gremlin! Can Venice offer
that? [Wendy Mitchell]

[For a full list of winners, please visit]

>> The “Counter Culture” MIX Surprise

(indieWIRE: 11.21.02) — With little prior fanfare that caught some previous
attendees from the New York film industry and broader film community by
surprise, MIX: the New York Lesbian & Gay Experimental Film/Video Festival
opened its “sweet sixteen” event last night in downtown Manhattan with a
screening of “The Coming Revolution.” The five-day event carries the theme
“Counter Culture.” The Anthology Film Archives will once again host the 16th
annual fest from November 20 to 24 with more than 150 films, videos, digital
media, installations, and performances scheduled, including more than 100 New
York, U.S., and world premieres. The festival will also feature its annual
international screenings from its sister festivals, MIX Brasil and MIX
in addition to a program of “Queer Diaspora,” with work from queer
artists of Arab and Muslim heritage. [Brian Brooks]

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