Thwarted love and poetry in Io sono Li and Habibi
by Vittoria Scarpa
06/09/2011 - It received the longest and loudest applause attributed so far to a film in this eighth edition of the Venice Days of the Venice Film Festival. Io sono Li [trailer, film focus], first fiction film by documentary-maker Andrea Segre, finalist for the 2012 European Parliament 'LUX Prize', was met with a real standing ovation from the audience, which gathered around the director and the cast in the room, between kisses, hugs and handshakes.
A story of a special – and disapproved of – friendship between Bepi, an old fisherman of Slavic origin whom people called “the Poet” (Croat actor Rade Sherbedgia), and Shun Li, young and meek Chinese bar worker (Zhao Tao, starring in Still Life), against the background of a melancholic Venetian lagoon exceptionally well captured by Luca Bigazzi (This Must Be the Place [trailer, film focus]), the film must have captured the hearts, before the public’s, of all those who participated in making it, each one of them having worked on it with the same intensity and passion for months. "I had to learn the dialect of Chioggia", said Giuseppe Battiston, who here plays the arrogant young troublemaker, "and rehearsals were exhausting. But it is one of the most beautiful films I have ever taken part in". "I was forced to go out on the boat even though mine was the only character who wasn’t a fisherman”, raised “lawyer” Roberto Citran, giving a laugh.
"I’ve made more than a hundred films", commented the charismatic Sherbedgia, "and the onscreen result is not always what you expect. In this case I was really proud, because we made something that comes close to art ". "In the first draft of the screenplay, Bepi was Italian", Segre says, "then I thought of Rade and I found him perfect: he is the only one to understand Shun Li because he is also a stranger". Produced by Italy and France, Io sono Li will be in Italian cinemas on September 23; international sales are entrusted to Adriana Chiesa Enterprises(who at the Lido is also in charge of sales for Cose dell'altro mondo [trailer] by Francesco Patierno).
Same thwarted love, different latitude, for Habibi, first work by Susan Youssef produced by Holland, the United Arab Emirates and Palestine. Entirely shot in the occupied states and marked by the verses of the great seventh century Arab love poet, Qays, it tells in a very lyrical way of the forbidden love story between a Palestinian boy and girl in Gaza, prisoners of the conventions of their own collective. A film that is also about a cultural value and diversity in the Arab language and of the Palestinian people, deprived of the vicissitudes of the history of the beauty of poetry.
(Translated from Italian)