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Film and art against xenophobia and denied rights

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Nicoletta Romeo • Director, Trieste Film Festival

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- We caught up with the director of the Trieste Film Festival, Nicoletta Romeo, to discuss the themes of the films being shown at this year’s edition

Nicoletta Romeo • Director, Trieste Film Festival

Between 20 and 29 January, this year’s edition of the Trieste Film Festival (see article) will be held, the biggest and most important Italian festival focusing on film from Central and Eastern Europe. This year in it’s 28th edition, the festival continues to be a privileged window for films and writers that are often not so well-known to “western” audiences. We caught up with Nicoletta Romeo, who directs the festival with Fabrizio Grosoli, to discuss the themes of the films in this year’s selection. 

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Cineuropa: The first common denominator seems to be “the past that doesn’t pass”.
Nicoletta Romeo: There’s a common thread running through many of the films right across the board, which we realised only after selecting them. These are works from films that are very different from one another, including in their national geopolitical stance. Back front and centre are “war films”. Both in fictional films, which deal with the Balkan wars among others things, but above all in documentary film: those of Vitaly Mansky, but also My Private War by Lidija Zelović, and Like Dew in the Sun [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
by Swiss director Peter Entel. It is rightly documentary that rethinks something that has a very personal effect on us. 

The relationship between intellectuals and power is one of the recurring themes this year.
Above all in the Art & Sound section, there’s a return to telling the stories of great artists, performers, and activist artists. Like Polish painter Zdzisław Beksińsk or Wladyslaw Strzemiński, the protagonist of Andrzej Wajda’s film Afterimage [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Zofia Wichlacz
film profile
]
, famous Czech photographer Josef Koudelka in the film Koudelka Shooting Holy Land by Gilad Baram, or cult bands like Pussy Riot and Slovenian band Laibach. All of which have come to symbolise the art scene in Europe. Art is still seen as a tool of subversion, above all against the Communist regime. These films tell the stories of groups of artists or individuals who have channelled the ideas of a feeling of rebellion that is very widespread right now. Film is also a window onto what is happening in these countries that often elect far-right governments, countries in which xenophobia has become rife, seriously threatening human rights. These themes are addressed in these films, perhaps not directly, but through the filter of the art scene. 

The immigration crisis in Eastern Europe is seen from different perspectives.
There’s a film that stigmatises it very effectively, Bulgarian film The Good Postman [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
by Tonislav Hristov, a documentary that not many have seen: it’s the story of a postman in a small village on the border with Turkey who runs for mayor with a “provocative” manifesto: to breathe life back into the dying village by welcoming in Syrian and Afghan refugees. It’s a shame that not everyone agrees, least of all those with extremist stances. What triumphs is a third way, a solution that takes no stance, somewhat recalling that of Europe. Immigration is also a theme in two other important films. That of Greek filmmaker Amerika Square [+see also:
trailer
interview: Yannis Sakaridis
film profile
]
by Yannis Sakaridis, which focuses on the business generated by borders: there’s a lot of demagogy and populism when it comes to immigrants, but we know that they bring money and business. And then there’s the Hungarian film in competition, It's Not the Time of My Life [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Szabolcs Hajdu
film profile
]
by Szabolcs Hajdu, about “failed” immigration: the return home of a family and the bitter coming to terms with a failed process of integration. Last but not least, lively and light is Babylon Sisters [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
by Gigi Roccati, which will be screened as a special event at the festival and is a sort of contemporary fairy-tale on the difficulties of integration in a multicultural city like Trieste.

(Translated from Italian)

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